It’s no ordinary museum at the Waldhaus residence. Felix Dietrich takes me down the narrow staircase tucked below the wide, ancient carpeted floors of the hotel, to a quaint spot where he finds peace. A dim lit door opens into what seems like a Harry Potter movie—the oldest set of miscellaneous items gathered over decades of attachment to the property—phones, typewriters, transistors, gramophones, a bathtub, writing instruments, and ski sticks and roller skates left behind by guests from the early 1900s, with name tags and room numbers, in case someone wanted to claim them. “A few years ago, my mother-in-law said she’d throw all this out, if I didn’t find use for it. And I didn’t want to let it go.” The sheer subtlety of this man suddenly surmounted the 10 million francs he was spending on the spa at the hotel. This museum is open to guests who want to seek out the legacy of Waldhaus Sils.
And seek one would. Sitting above the village of Sils in Engadin St Moritz, with a 360-degree view of Lake Silvaplana and Sils, and the Fex Valley, this has been a hideout for many a famous person of the last century—Albert Einstein, Theodor Adorno, Thomas Mann, David Bowie—the list of patrons is endless. Art nouveau chandelier suspended on heavy chains, old furnishings and wallpapers, mahogany panellings with corner mirrors; it’s just like in the movies. The 141 rooms and suites are so uniquely designed that the beauty of being in a castle, doubling as home, is too big to grasp in one night. I sneak my way into the buzzy kitchen, to find some 60 chefs, all appearing as though they are choreographed into a culinary movement, none idling at a corner—surprising, for the guest floors above didn’t reflect the need for so much cooking. Then again, the corners of the hotel are far more spread than you’d realise, tempting children to run like sugar-high puppies, if that were something.
Don’t miss the breakfast buffets around eight. That’s where all the fun is brewing especially when it’s time to get the desserts out (tarts and muffins of every enviable flavour). Dinners are intimate too; there’s always a family member enquiring if you’re enjoying the evening. And when the Waldhaus Trio syncs the piano, violin, and cello with passionate strings, you leave one era after another to go back in time to 1908. True, the values and practices sing of a classical era. As Claudio and Patrick Dietrich, his sons, and the fifth generation preserving tradition, see me off, an incoming guest replaces my name in chalk on a board at the cashier. -Anwesha Sanyal