Not long before Christmas, me and my soon-to-be-Mrs-Smith found ourselves touching down in the heart of the Swiss Alps, for a weekend reconnaissance mission at Solis Cambrian Hotel & Spa – one of the latest additions to the Smith boutique hotel collection. We visited Adelboden in the Bernese Oberland, a village-sized cluster of gingerbread-house wooden chalets surrounded by pine trees and flanked by snow-capped peaks. Switzerland’s scenery doesn’t get more craggily dramatic – plunging valleys, dizzying heights and snow thick enough to lose children in. Criss-crossed by cable cars and ski lifts, the picturesque resort town is a haven for snowsports fanatics and Alpine adventurers, and in summer, when a carpet of greenery covers the slopes, Adelboden becomes the destination of choice for hilltop hikers, spa-seekers and lonely goatherds alike.
Car adverts invariably show a gleaming vehicle purring unhindered along an empty highway that twists and turns through magnificent scenery. Real life is, of course, a bit different. The reality is that the average speed of a car in London’s rush-hour traffic is seven miles an hour, and the nearest that many motorists get to top gear these days is watching Jeremy Clarkson on Dave. But don’t despair: you can escape the terrible tedium of the Hammersmith gyratory (and Clarkson). In the Alps.
Before you blaze off into the mountains, it’s worth considering a few of the lessons I learned the hard way while researching the Smith Ski collection. Here are some tried-and-tested Alpine driving tips to help you get to your ski chalet in one piece: