Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Grandhotel Giessbach

One of my friends from the United States is planning a trip to Switzerland this summer and she emails me all the time not quite prepared for Swiss hotel prices. And who can blame her. I'm still in shock most of the time and I've lived here almost three years.

"Everything's expensive in Switzerland, darling," said my Swiss friend, Tom, like he couldn't have been prouder to have such a money-making machine for a country.

But still. SFr 280 for a hotel room in Bellinzona? Surely there must be something else. But there isn't. And sometimes for this price, you don't even get a bar of soap.

Needless to say, I don't take a lack of bathroom minis personally anymore and instead travel accordingly, my bathroom bag stuffed with shampoos, soaps and kleenex--things I used to take for granted at hotels in the United States.

But there is one place in Switzerland that is actually worth the price (and bonus! You do get one tiny bar of soap for it). It's called the Grandhotel Giessbach and it is located alone on a cliff above Lake Brienz. Not only does the hotel overlook a turquoise lake, the Alps, and the oldest funicular in Europe that will take you to it, but it is also next to an equally grand waterfall.

It's a great place to stay. And I have my Swiss friends to thank for the discovery. But learn from our mistake and drink your champagne after you hike up to the top of the waterfall and not before. Here is a view of the hotel from the waterfall hike.

And here's what view your money will get you from your hotel room:

240 CHF-Forest (American's cheapskate room)

420 CHF-lake, waterfall, and mountains (Swiss friend's spendthrift room)

Is the extra CHF 180 worth it for the view? You decide. Or travel with some Swiss friends who will let you enjoy theirs. But keep in mind that a dinner for two will probably cost the same price as your room. But take it from one of the world's most accomplished tight wads: Unlike a lot of food and hotel experiences in Switzerland, this one is worth every penny. Excuse me, every 5 Rappen piece.


aurora said...

I saw both the hotel and the waterfall when I was taking one of the boat trips around the lake. They both looked really impressive :) and expensive :D

Chantal said...

Yes, the boat trip on the lake is also a great way to spend an afternoon. And you can always go up to the hotel just for a lunch. Just beware of the transport schedules as they aren't too frequent.

Unknown said...

I was in the Leon D'Or in Bellinzona on the weekend, it was an economy hotel but at 120chf per night it was a good deal. Clean, fairly quiet and close to the train stop.

http://weekendinswitzerland.blogspot.com for photos for the area.

Chantal said...

Thanks for the Bellinzona tip. I'll pass it on to my friend.

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