Gstaad in all its untouched glory

Gstaad. The good looks of a picture-book village, where low-slung chalets nestle between Postman Pat-style rolling hills. A place with global renown thanks to the celebrities who pour in every year to find solitude. I was expecting ritzy and off-putting, certainly a place I wouldn't warm to. How wrong I could have been.

As our train crawled between the wooded mountains of the Bernese Oberland, their teeth-like summits serrating the sky, I was mesmerised. Gstaad came into view - the turrets of its famous Palace Hotel first, then its sleepy sprinkle of chalets. Like a film set. Our hotel - the impressive new Huus Gstaad - was in the hills above Saanen, the next village along from Gstaad. Its vantage point afforded beautiful vistas of La Vidamanette, or Mt. Ruebli, a solitary wave of rock soaring towards the clouds.

The hotel was fabulous - review for The Telegraph coming shortly, but let's just say it marries the worlds of Alpine hut and luxury design hotel to perfection. Its all-inclusive programme of activities includes rafting, rock climbing and mountain biking, while it also has an excellent spa with a sizeable swimming pool and saunas. There are also two complimentary Range Rover cabriolets for guests to use - yes, really!

To celebrate Tim's birthday, we took advantage of one and headed into the mountains. First, we travelled up the Schönried gondola to a hike that took us through grasshopper green fields studded with wildflowers and past farm huts jangling with cow bells. In the distance, we could make out the milky bulk of the Les Diablerets massif. Then we drove - roof down, sun scorching our scalps, wind in our hair - through Gstaad (well, you do have to try to look the part, right?) and up to Arnensee, a sparkling Tiffany blue lake between evergreens and Alps. We settled outside the lakefront restaurant and munched homemade plum cake. It was a moment to bottle. One of those moments when you wish, for just a while, the world would stand still.
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