The Escape: Postcards From Vals, Switzerland

The Escape: Postcards From Vals, Switzerland

A unique Swiss adventure through phenomenal architecture.

The Peter-Zumthor-designed 7132 Hotel in Vals valley

With the alpine adventure fast taking over your beach paradise as the holiday du jour, we hiked the Grison Alps, which at 3,000 metres opened up to the breathtaking vista of the Adula Massif with its magnificent snow-capped peaks disappearing into the bright blue sky. How best to enjoy the phenomenal view of this iconic mountain range, covered in dense terraces of tricolour fir on this autumnal day, but with a lovely picnic of charcuterie and Riesling at the top the world.

Thom Mayne’s Stone Room, with walls made out of Vals quartzite

Satiated, we meandered down the winding trail, through gravel paths and tree-lined shortcuts, back into Vals at 1,200 metres, toward our home for the weekend. In otherworldly contrast, a white futuristic edifice warmly welcomed us into its sensual space of dark woods and bubble lights. Designed by Swiss starchitect Peter Zumthor, 7132 Hotel—named after its postal code—is a contradistinctive dialogue to the Alpine landscape that surrounds it. “The Art of Alpine Luxury” is the invitation to the impressive penthouses of panoramic views, the thermal baths built on the hot springs the village is known for, and even a two Michelin-star dinner at Silver, with German chef Mitja Birlo in situ. But the real deal is the “architectural experience”, the phenomenological belief of the Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect.

For us, this began at Therme Vals, the magnificent thermal baths that date back to 1893, which Zumthor reconstructed in 1996 with 60,000 locally quarried quartzite slabs into a mythologically monolithic yet intimately experiential space. Friday nights until 1am are reserved for “night bathing”, where under the stars in the crystal-clear outdoor pool we inhaled the cool autumnal air in absolute silence as a matter of meditation. Through the weekend we luxuriated in the beautifying blossom bath, absorbed the vibrational sound bath, and jumped between fire and ice baths, as Europeans do. Then upstairs we went, to our minimalist Spa Suite, with its fresh aura of white sheets and light woods, again a contrast in emotion and beauty.

Therme Vals pools offer myriad experiences

Thermal spa with a stunning view

The five-star hotel that opened in 2016 was built on the premises of a 1970s ski motel, recently remodelled as the 7132 House of Architects comprising of 100 rooms in five unique designs by renowned architects Kengo Kuma, Tadao Ando, Thom Mayne, and Peter Zumthor. These capsule rooms themselves are experiences: Ando’s Japanese teahouse-inspired cabin, Swiss oak panels cocooning a Kuma room, a futuristic shower structure in a Mayne room, or another version made entirely of Vals quartzite. Imagine a romantic winter holiday of skiing and après-ski snuggling in this magical, exceptional space.

7132 Hotel, 7132 Vals, Switzerland. Tel: +41 58 7132 000. www.7132.com

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