Ski weekend in Scuol: skiing, sledging and wellness

The view is irresistible - a crowd of wispy pine trees hikes up the steep slope, bearing snow on their shoulders and sun on their crowns, striving for the jagged band of classic summits above - and it's a good job ... the man berating us is as naked as the day he was born. Perched on a bench in the panoramic sauna, he orders us to fetch towels to put beneath our feet, "or the wood will get wet". I try to keep my eyes on the scenery outside without appearing bad-mannered. Hang on, though - I shouldn't be the one feeling rude: he should! "Why don't you fetch something to protect your modesty?" I want to retort. But I don't. I just fetch a towel, my cheeks burning like a naughty schoolchild. I hate naked wellness: it's something that will always make me uncomfortable in Germanic places.

This particular 'wellness troll' wasn't to ruin our evening, though. After a hard day's skiing, we weren't going to be deterred from the otherwise glorious spa at Hotel Arnica in Scuol, a village tucked into a natural sunny basin in the Lower Engadine in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. A charming three-star on the edge of the village, Arnica is one of the nicest hotels we have stayed at. It offers reasonable rates without sacrificing comfort: all rooms, which have traditional wooden details and beds you don't want to get out of, boast balconies. Meanwhile, there are practical touches such as kettles - always handy when you are a Brit afoot. We started our weekend on the blue pistes at Motta Naluns, the ski area that reaches 2,785m above Scuol. I love these pistes: they're wide, flat enough so as not to freak me out, and have invariably excellent snow conditions. Add to these qualities that they look onto the wildly romantic peaks of the Swiss National Park, and it's hard to imagine a lovelier ski resort.
Later that afternoon, we munched cake by local Scuol baker Peder Benderer (don't miss the Naiv d'Engiadina, a gooey blend of nuts and praline), before descending to dine at Hotel Traube in the old town. Scuol's old town is a honeycomb of squares dotted with fountains, and cubic Engadiner properties decorated with sgraffito. Hotel Traube didn't disappoint. We dined in a wood-panelled Stube full of interesting sculptures and artwork - me on monkfish with basil risotto, and Tim on venison with vegetables and cauliflower cheese. The food was outstanding.
The following day, before checking out, we wake up, breakfast behind the hotel's vast panoramic windows, and head off sledging. From the top of the Motta Naluns cable car, a high-altitude walk through snow-deep woodland brings us to Prui, where we jump on our sledges and hurtle between trees down 3.5km of gentle pisted path to Ftan. It's an overused expression, but the setting is truly Narnia-esque. We may have encountered a wellness troll to give us nightmares, but we're leaving with our heads full of wintry dreams.
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