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***Gstaad is full of flashy clothes, amazing people watching on the slopes. Beautiful mountain scenery, mostly below tree line, resulting in a different ‘Alps look’ than most of Switzerland. The town is less flashy than you’d expect, but it’s a good place to shop for high end ski wear. Slopes are generally not crowded, perfect for beginner/intermediate skiers. When conditions are right, a favorite for advanced skiers.  We like to stay in Rougemont (French speaking, lovely architecture) when skiing in the area – see notes below.

In Gstaad itself

  • **Posthotel Rössli: Perfectly good food and friendly, on the main drag. 
  • **Hotel Arc-en-ciel Gstaad is right at the bottom of the Eggli lift, and a good, fine dining experience with a very large menu and a sunny patio. Our go-to lunch spot.
  • *Bergrestaurant Eggli and the adjacent *Snoasis are the place to be seen up at mid-mountain. Both are a fine choice for a cocktail, but the food is really not very good and I’d eat elsewhere. 

A short drive Northeast from Gstaad are some pretty, rural valleys. See notes for Lenk im Simmental below.

Château d’Oex

Another pretty town on the approach to Gstaad (in Vaud), Château d’Oex (say “Day”) is famous for being the World Alpine Capital of Hot Air Ballooning. We can’t quite trace the sequencing of the original association – it’s tied to the actor David Niven and the movie Around the World in 80 Days – but regardless the town is home to an annual Balloon Festival. We attended in January 2023 on a foggy day, so the balloons were limited, but it didn’t particularly slow down the crowds. 

For food, *Ermitage Maison d’Hôtes gets everything right except the food. Nice restaurant, good staff, thoughtful wine list. Food was plated well but oddly tasteless. We will try again; could have been an off day.

There’s a very small ski area, but this area is fairly low elevation and snow coverage is spotty at best. It’s a very pretty hiking area.

Lauenensee

Continue past Gstaad to the end of the box canyon and you’ll reach pretty **Lauenensee – a small Alpine lake with a hiking ring around it. This is low stress, all fitness levels hiking with pretty scenery. We’ve visited in winter (frozen, quiet) and plan to return in the summer for lovely wildflower views. It looks popular, and there’s a pretty restaurant in the summer months for dining overlooking the lake.

Rougemont

Rougemont is quite nice – it has the appearance of a rather elegant bedroom community to Gstaad. Our favorite place to stay in the area. For British royalty fans, it’s also where Princess Diana went to finishing school. Technically in Vaud, and French-speaking. Direct lift access to the Gstaad ski area. 

  • **Café du Cerf serves extremely cheesy fare (fondue, croute, malakoff, roesti, etc) in a very cute wooden dining room. 
  • **Hôtel Restaurant Valrose is one of the most high-end dining places in Switzerland. You can stay at the hotel for a fairly reasonable price (not cheap, but value for the price) – it’s beautifully appointed, very comfortable, very easy parking, access to slopes. There’s a beautiful bar area, very good cocktails. Great breakfast! Almost a ***, but we didn’t find the Cafe (the casual dining) particularly remarkable. Michelin experience on the list for a future visit.
  • **La Trattoria Rougemont is a great find, fancy and diverse Italian food (menu changes daily; expect higher end pricing). The setting, in a historic building, is romantic and charming. Friendly Italian staff.

Saanan

Saanan is often overlooked as the ‘last train stop before Gstaad’. It has a compact and charming downtown, with a nice cluster of historic decorated buildings. The surrounding areas are open and generally feature wonderful views. It’s a good place to stay. Direct lift access to the Gstaad ski area.

  • **Hotel Spitzhorn was okay. Everything was good enough, and in some cases quite good (loved the menu diversity). Spa could have been better, rooms were a little bland.
  • **HUUS Gstaad Hotel is very hip and ‘designed.’ Pricy, nice views. The restaurant is expensive, even on Swiss terms ($50 entrees, $20 cocktails), but quite delicious.
  • **Hotel Landhaus has really, really good traditional food. It’s almost a three star destination – definitely the best food we’ve had in the Gstaad area. Try the house-made spicy sausage! Our waiter told us the hotel is popular for conferences and shares an owner with HUUS.
  • We rented an Airbnb just next to Hotel Spitzhorn and loved the location – easy walking to everything, quite quiet. In the summer, the place is right next to the community pool.

Schonried

Schonried is at a higher elevation, covered under the same Gstaad pass, but not actually connected with lifts. I like less than Gstaad, but it’s a very popular spot for snowboarders, and has some delicious food options for lunch (try **Hotel Hornberg).

The Simmental

A short drive Northeast from Gstaad are some pretty, rural valleys. We loved the ***Chalet Trail – we did the section from Zweisimmen to Boltigen. It’s an especially pretty walk. The signposted upper Simmental home trail guides you to the most remarkable structures, which date back to the 15th century: harmonic architectural excellence.

The Simmental houses are an expression of great wealth, which the breeding and export of Simmental cattle (now internationally renowned) brought to the sunny mountain valley many years ago. In the 17th and 18th century, the pleasure of embellishment and the demand for all things decorative reached their peak. The facades of the residential buildings facing the valley or roads became ornamental, demonstrating the social position of the owners and the craftsmanship of the carpenters.

**Lenk im Simmental is a very low key getaway. The town isn’t particularly fancy, but it’s calm and feels like a local place for families. The eastern ski slopes connect through to Adelboden.

Looks like it would be excellent on a powder day. Very speed groomers, use big guns. Popular and crowded when warm. Short season, pretty low, highest point is 2100 meters. The opposite (west) side of the valley has a small ski area. Less steep, more children, more low key. Covered under the same pass.

Food and Lodging:

  • **Hotel Waldrand: We were quite happy here. It’s not fancy, but it’s nicely maintained, cozy rooms, a good restaurant. No spa. Doesn’t have a lounge or public place to hang out.
  • Lenkerhof gourmet spa resort (Relais & Châteaux) is the fancy option, with a big spa complex. It looks $350/night fancy, not worth a big spend.
  • Hotel Alpina: we liked the look of this place, older building, breakfast only. https://www.alpina-lenk.ch
  • Chalet Lenk looked appealing for dining. https://www.chaletlenk.ch

We also loved ***Sparenmoos – a beautiful spot for a gentle hike, or cross-country skiing and sledding in the winter. Not too strenuous, would be good for families. Stunning vistas over all of Gstaad and Lenk. https://www.gstaad.ch/en/winter/winter-hiking/winter-hiking-trails/detail/sparenmoos-huesliberg-schiltenegg-sparenmoos.html

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