Many hotels wax lyrical about having fabulous views, but Hotel Silberhorn is in a class of its own. Sitting on a rise above the village of Lauterbrunnen in the waterfall-laced valley of the same name, the panorama is Switzerland in a nutshell. Below there cuckoo-clock timber chalets and meadows thick with wildflowers. This in itself would be quite special, but then there is the added drama of the falls cascading down sheer cliff faces, which in turn rise to the immense, glacier capped peaks of the Jungfrau region: Eiger, Mönch and mighty Jungfrau at 4158m. Look closely and you’ll also notice the pearl-white fang of Silberhorn, which gives the hotel its name. It’s like a landscape painting come to life.
A timber chalet ablaze with bright geraniums in summer, the Silberhorn has personality as well as looks. The times may have changed since the hotel first opened its doors in 1906, but the same family welcome and old-school charm await guests now as then. It’s run by the fourth generation of the von Allmens and filled with family heirlooms and the stories that come with a century of Alpine hospitality. Traditional as it may seem at first glance, the hotel goes with the zeitgeist, with solar power, impeccable eco credentials and the latest rooms fitted out in Holz100, 100% organic, untreated wood, hailed for its health benefits and calming effect.
The minute I step into my room, clad from top to bottom in fragrant spruce and bathed in honeyed light, I switch automatically into relaxed mode. The design is slick and minimalist, with huge patio doors that frame the view like a postcard, silk-smooth, downy bedding and a cleverly positioned chaise lounge for admiring the sublime outlook of the valley, mountains and Staubbach Falls. On the balcony, I breath in the good air and listen to the jingle jangle of cow and goat bells on the slopes behind the hotel. I’m in the Valley View – one of the best and newest rooms in the house, though the Staubbach rooms and suite are just as lovely, with tremendous views from their freestanding bathtubs.
For centuries the Lauterbrunnen Valley has been eulogized by writers, poets and philosophers. Turner was bowled over by its natural splendour, as were Goethe and Lord Byron, both of whom penned poems to their ethereal beauty. I spend the day walking to the nearby Staubbach Falls, which crash 297m over a cliff face in a single spectacular plume, and taking the funicular up to Mürren for more sensational views of the Jungfrau big three.
By the time I return to the Silberhorn I am famished and ready for the hearty helpings of mountain food served in the rustic Gletscherstuba, where, I’m told an open fire crackles in winter. It’s inviting on an overcast summer day, too, with its warm pine, beams, cosy booths, hunting trophies and murals of wildlife. Pizza from the wood-fired oven sounds tempting, but I opt instead for rosti with a fried egg and speck – the ultimate Alpine comfort food. It’s humungous. On the menu are other regional favourites like raclette, cheese fondue and Zürcher Kalbsgeschnetzelte (sliced veal in creamy sauce).
A generous breakfast is served in a sunlit dining room, which also commands panoramic views of the valley. It’s a view that never pails and it’s with reluctance that I leave my room overlooking Lauterbrunnen and board a little train back to Interlaken.
Hotel Silberhorn, Lauterbrunnen, Bir Zuben, 3822 Lauterbrunnen, Berner Oberland, Switzerland
Tel: +41 33 856 22 10
Lauterbrunnen is in the Jungfrau Region at the heart of the Bernese Alps. The nearest big international airport is in Zurich, a 2½ hour train ride from Lauterbrunnen (see www.sbb.ch) or two a two-hour drive via the A4 and A8 motorways.
Type of Hotel: 3-Star Hotel
Number Rooms: 30 rooms and suites and complimentary Wi-Fi and parking
Insider Tip: The hotel has rooms that can accommodate families and can provide cots. Kids’ meals are available in the restaurant and choose a table in the conservatory or, in summer, on the terrace for terrific views of the mountains.
Price Band: Medium to High
Reviewer’s Rating: 10/10
Kerry Christiani is an award-winning freelance travel writer, author and MA-qualified translator.
Photographs courtesy of Hotel Silberhorn