It’s sometimes hard to pinpoint what makes one hotel more memorable than another, but personally I find it boils down to exceptional service. Service that makes the hotel-as-home concept come into its own; service that improves your overall experience of a place. Run with love and faultless attention to detail by Sonja and Patrizio Salzano, the Landhotel Golf & Salzano SPA has got the balance just right. The owners are warm and friendly without being overbearing; always ready to share tips and impart their passion for the beautiful region that surrounds them – whether it be in tales of their childhood or in foraged menus. Five-star service with minimum fuss and pretention makes them stand head and shoulders above most other hotels in Interlaken, and sees their loyal guests returning year after year.
On the fringes of Interlaken, the hotel is embedded in the meadows that cloak the foothills of the Bernese Alps, with views to the distinctive pyramid-shaped peak of Niesen and Eiger’s formidable north face. It has the advantage of being crowd free (unlike Interlaken) and properly in the countryside, yet within easy reach of all the region’s biggest draws – Europe’s highest station, 3,466m Jungfraujoch, and lakes Thun and Brienz, for instance. Pretty much every activity you can name, from hiking to skiing, paragliding and ice climbing, is available right on the doorstep.
So far, so impressive. And the personal touch carries through to the guest rooms. Mine has been inspired by nature and designed with an imaginative eye for nouveau rustic-chic, with lots of bare wood, spotlit alcoves filled with fresh mountain hay, faux-fur throws and pops of bright colour. It has a solid oak bed that makes me long for bedtime, soothing views of the Habkern valley from the balcony and hypo-allergenic bedding. There are some pleasing little touches, too, such as free Wi-Fi, tea- and coffee-making facilities.
After a long journey, the Salzano Spa sounds very tempting. It’s even better than I imagined, with a panoramic sauna overlooking Eiger north face, a Haslauer Brechelbath sauna scented with herbs and the Christmassy smell of fir branches, a Swarovski steam bath, peaceful chillout area and complimentary tea prepared with Alpine herbs. After an infrared sauna and intuitive massage, I feel utterly relaxed. Other treatments have an even greater link with the mountains, using Alpine hay, herbs and goat cream.
Born in southern Italy and blending the tastes of his homeland with top-quality regional produce and foraged ingredients, Patrizio Salzano turns out to be a very talented chef. Dinner in the candlelit, wood-panelled restaurant is a multi-course feast, delivering, as it promises, a culinary journey through the Alps. Each dish is expertly cooked and wholly original – from smoked fish with horseradish foam, wild garlic oil and fir needle ‘snow’ to nettle ravioli with asparagus and mountain cheese. A main of Bernese Oberland veal steak baked in hay and served with honey jus and Jerusalem artichoke leaves little room for dessert, but the fir needle ice cream with caramelized apple proves irresistible.
After a sound night’s sleep, I wake up rested to another crystal-clear day, tantalising views of the Alps and a generous breakfast. The Salzanos have been impeccable hosts and I’m sad to be leaving, but somehow I have an inkling I’ll be back. I mean, where else can you get fir needle ice cream?
Landhotel Golf and Salzano SPA, Lehnweg 31, 3800 Interlaken-Unterseen, Switzerland
Tel: +41 33 821 00 70
Interlaken is right in the heart of the Jungfrau region in the Bernese Alps, between lakes Thun and Brienz. It’s a great jumping off point for exploring the region, with easy train connections into the mountains and is a two-hour train ride from Basel and Zurich, both of which have international airports. To reach the hotel from Interlaken, take bus 21 or 105 from to Unterseen Schiessstand Lehn stop. It’s a 12-minute journey.
Type of Hotel: 3-Star Spa Hotel
Number Rooms: 22 rooms and suites and complimentary Wi-Fi
Insider Tip: Check the website for a wide range of special deals and packages, including offers for golfers.
Price Band: Medium to High
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Kerry Christiani is an award-winning freelance travel writer, author and MA-qualified translator.
Photographs courtesy of Landhotel Golf and Salzano SPA