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Engelberg is famous for Bollywood filming, and is an easy 40-minute train journey from Lucerne (or drive). We have yet to visit in summer; in winter it’s a pretty box canyon surrounded by high peaks. I wouldn’t recommend it (the town) over other winter destinations, but it does have charm. It’s oddly crowded and sleepy at the same time – just mobbed on the lifts, but walking the streets at night you’ll find yourself quite alone. We think most of the visitors approach it as a day trip.

Engelberg Abbey is the historic draw (and by historic – they mean it, it was founded by monks in 1120).  Today’s baroque monastery complex was built after the third fire (1729), and has a focus on education. There are tours Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, 4 p.m. We haven’t toured yet, but it’s an imposing place, right in town.

Hotels & Dining

In researching, I was looking for “walkable to the lift” – in reality almost nothing meets that criteria, but there’s a constant stream of buses from the center of town, so it’s not a major deal. The houses and hotels creep up the hillside, and you can definitely trade convenience for views (for skiing, I’d stay in the center).

  • We had an exceptional meal at ***Haus 100 – truly one of the best we’ve had in Switzerland. You’ll want a car or cab to get out here, and the very modern hotel looks like a gem (though maybe not the best base for skiing, I’d consider it for a getaway or a summer trip). The multi-course meal was inventive and interesting, lots of fermented and pickled ingredients. Excellent wine pairings. Nearly everyone working there was Swedish; decor and cuisine had a distinctly Nordic feel. 
  • *Spannort Hotel & Restaurant didn’t quite work out. There was plenty that was fine about it, but the hotel and restaurant (two different businesses I believe) have taken a very low-staff approach that we didn’t appreciate. All digital tools, no check-in desk, you have to order breakfast via the app the day before, etc. The room was actually fine, location very good. Price very affordable for a tourism-centric area. The restaurant was tasty, but again just staffed far too leanly. Our one-course meal took two hours; the delays took away from an otherwise pleasant environment.
  • *The Tea Room is a nicely designed “British tea house” with some British-style breakfast options and a larger bakery. It’s fine, didn’t wow us, on the expensive side, not amazing food, and they couldn’t do something as basic as cooking an over-medium egg.
  • Hotel Alpenclub (and restaurant) was by far the most appealing destination for a future visit at a reasonable price point. It’s very cute, looked cozy and popular, quite chalet-chic.
  • Kempinski Palace Engelberg looks very nice – the spa is supposed to be excellent. Prices are in the 800+ range.
  • Sporthotel Eienwäldli was my other pick (based on desk research), a bit out of town, but family friendly and with great reviews (and a very large spa complex).
  • **Trübsee Alpine Lodge is on the piste, a newer place with rooms, a fine dining restaurant, and a large (and rather nice) cafeteria dining area. I wouldn’t bother to stay there, too big for my taste, but the restaurant was very good, not cheap, but excellent quality.

Skiing

The journey to the 3,200-meter Titlis mountain’s ski area takes 90 minutes on a busy day, and while not complicated, it’s involved. Your choices are either a) gondola to a 360 degree rotating tram with multiple lines and waits, or b) funicular to tram to rotating gondola. We found it crowded and long. Lift ticket prices are on the higher end for Switzerland – 89 CHF in 2024.

The skiing: very steep, amazing side country, very technical but not difficult, requiring avi gear for safety (and a group). Excellent off-piste, steep on-piste, do not go there for the groomers. There aren’t really any warm-up runs, everything, unless you’re skiing on the home run, is red or black and hard charging. It’s all above the tree line.