On a nice weekend, the intersection in La Punt sees thousands of cars and motorcycles come to a rolling stop.
Some are about to climb the Albula pass while others are headed towards the Lower Engadine. (La Punt lies about halfway between St. Moritz and Zernez, a scenic stretch on the Grand Tour of Switzerland.) And just like the majority of drivers, we used to look at La Punt as a sort of throughway. That is, until we stopped to smell the proverbial roses.
Hotel Gasthaus Krone in La Punt
Until the 15th century, scaling the River Inn posed a major challenge for travelers. In 1440, it is assumed that the first bridge was constructed, giving the town its name. ("Punt" stands for "bridge" in the local Romansh dialect.)
Fast forward to 1565 when the building that now houses Hotel Gasthaus Krone was constructed. Being a typical Engadine farm house of the time, the building included a cellar for storage and a large shed. Under one roof, it offered a farm, a warehouse and sleeping quarters for merchants and travelers.
Today, the large white building by the River Inn still offers much under one roof: a gourmet restaurant, a three-star hotel, an art collection and even a small spa for hotel guests.
The Krone La Punt wears history on its sleeves. Yet at the same time, it is surprisingly contemporary.
Hosts Sonja and Andreas Martin take some precious time out of their busy day to give us a warm welcome. The couple has been running operations since 2002, which includes the reception, the kitchen, accounting, marketing, back of the house - you name it.
Unexpected architecture and interior design
The library café with its riverside patio serves as a gathering space. We have arrived right in time for coffee and cake… We choose to sit by the River Inn to get acquainted with the special location.
We are staying in the hotel's one and only Chamuera Double Room, named after the small creek that enters the Inn on the side of the hotel. At first, we are not sure what to expect. We unlock the door and enter a room fully encased in wood.
Hands down, this room should be labeled a suite! The elevated bed is absolute eye-candy: it feels extremely cozy to be surrounded by all this natural wood, almost a bit like cocooning.
And from a purely architectural perspective, it is clever how Ruch & Partner Architekten of St. Moritz have given this large room its own identity.
It is evident that no piece of furniture or décor has been left up to chance. The Zurich based interior design studio, Kessler Kessler, has aptly combined modern design classics and natural textures such as leather and wood. For a hotel classified with three stars, this is as good as they get.
Gourmet food and art go hand in hand
On each floor of the hotel, we notice a variety of original artwork. A highlight is the portfolio of Not Vital, a local Engadine artist. On the lobby floor near our room, his use of oil and chalk resulted in the mysterious painting “Dancing Derwishes”.
We also find art on the plates at the restaurant. The concept of the Krone La Punt cuisine is all about using local flavors. For instance, Chef Martin has conceived a six-course meal based on pinecones. Smoked, cooked or boiled, the essence of Swiss stone pine runs through each of the courses.