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St Gallen: Perfect day

St Gallen is something of an enigma. Often overlooked by visitors in favour of Zürich, Geneva and Lucerne, the city has developed its very own cultural identity. St Gallen has plenty to offer, including a glorious location between the Bodensee (Lake Constance) and the the Eastern Swiss Alps. It’s also home to Switzerland’s premier haute couture designer, has cutting-edge cafes and bars, and is centred on one of Europe’s most important historical sites. Despite its diminutive size, it brings together the best in international and local brands – and, best of all, you’ll have the place to yourself …

City Guide
Mike MacEacheran,

As the godfather of the home-grown fashion scene, Akris is the king of the St Gallen catwalk. No visit would be complete without a trip to the country’s number one luxury house, Akris, which focuses on haute couture feminine designs. Elegance and understatement are guaranteed.

Akris, Felsenstrasse 40, 9001 St Gallen, +41 (0)71 227 7722

Continuing the high stakes, drop into GianGiacomo, where Cavalli, Versace, Lagerfeld and Pinko are just some of the labels bringing even more international power dressing to the city. Tailor-made suits are its speciality, as are catwalk and couture jeans.

GianGiacomo, Marktgasse 1, 9000 St Gallen, +41 (0)71 223 7388

After a morning at the city’s retail altars, make a pilgrimage of a different kind to the city’s most famous attraction: the library at St Gallen Abbey, listed as a World Heritage Site. Home to one of the world’s greatest collections of books and manuscripts – in the region of 170,000 at the latest count – the Abbey library is a Baroque treasure chest for scholars and visitors and shouldn’t be missed at any cost.

Abbey Library of St. Gallen, Klosterhof 6D, 9004 St Gallen, +41 (0)71 227 3416

Take a quick chai or herbal mate at the Alhambra Bar, which features Moorish fixtures and fittings and the ambience to match. The perfect place for an early afternoon power shake or cocktail, the café has luxuriant divan cushions for those that choose to linger longer with a sheesha pipe.

Alhambra Bar, Löwengasse 1, 9004 St Gallen, +41 (0)71 222 4240

Pop into retro superstore Klang und Klein (Sound and Dress in English) which is a pop art cross-over of T-shirts, shoes and bags with records, gadgets and posters. Over the past few years it’s grown from an underground hide-out into a more mainstream proposition, tapping into the city’s more kitsch, alternative tastes. Its sister boutique in Munich is – perhaps unsurprisingly – equally cool.

Klang und Kleid, Torstrasse 20, 9004 St Gallen, +41 (0)71 244 2421

St Galleners would be lost without Cachet. The department store showcases alternative gifts and lifestyle must-haves. Cachet embraces an esoteric ethos and imports toys and textiles from India, Indonesia and Thailand – which can be hard to find on this side of the Alps.

Cachet, Brühlgasse 28, 9000 St Gallen, +41 (0)71 222 1911

Don’t miss Boutique Roma, the city’s number one designer emporium, which can thank names like Dries Van Noten, Rick Owens and Carol Christian Poell for its runaway success. Bringing Zürich’s effortlessly chic street style to St Gallen, this department store of luxury labels is a one-stop shop for East Switzerland’s most dedicated fashion followers.

Boutique Roma, Neugasse 46, 9000 St Gallen, +41 (0)71 222 7751

Unquestionably the best hotel in the city, the Hotel Einstein is also home to St Gallen’s premier gastronomic experience. Head straight up to the top floor and the Einstein Panorama Restaurant, which offers unparalleled views across the city’s world famous abbey precinct. The food, sourced from and inspired by the surrounding St Gallen canton, isn’t bad either. Reservations recommended.

Hotel Einstein, Berneggstrasse 2, 9000 St Gallen, + 41 (0)71 227 5555

Those in the know will venture no further than the Seeger Bar for sophistication, hedonistic cocktails and 2am clubbing. Its historic location and stylish apero bring in the post-work crowds; hang around until later to see the city dress to impress.

Seeger Bar, Oberer Graben 2, 9000 St Gallen, +41 (0)71 222 9792



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