A place like no other
TEXT: MARILENA STRACKE | PHOTO: GRANDHOTEL GIESSBACH
Hidden away from civilisation, the legendary Grandhotel Giessbach in Switzerland is not only a popular event and film location attracting the likes of Spielberg and Hanks, but it is also an oasis for true rest and tranquillity. Nestled right by the stunning Giessbach Falls and overlooking the scenic lake Brienz, this historic hotel is a truly unique place and the embodiment of the glorious, long-forgotten Belle Epoque.
The Grandhotel Giessbach opened in 1875. Its glamourous architecture, merged with the stunning location by the Giessbach Falls, turned it almost instantly into one of the most unique places in Switzerland. The hotel became a hotspot for artists and business people from all over the world, who all fell in love with this special spot. But two World Wars and a changing tourism scene almost ended the hotel’s golden era.
“Our hotel is a very unique operation,” explains hotel director Mark von Weißenfluh. “In 1984, it was supposed to be completely demolished to make space for a modern, so-called Jumbo-Chalet. But luckily, the ‘Giessbach for the Swiss people Foundation’, run by the internationally renowned Swiss environmentalist Franz Weber, managed to save it and turn it into a listed building instead.”
Go back in time
Today, it is one of the historic landmark hotels in Switzerland, which as von Weißenfluh describes it, is not just a hotel but a wonderful state of mind. Carefully renovated inside but without losing any of its original charm, the Grandhotel Giessbach is simply just very special. “Everything is as it used to be back then,” von Weißenfluh adds. “When you arrive here, you enter the Belle Epoque. It is like you are going back in time to an era of unique splendour and elegant sophistication.”
The oldest funicular of Europe – the Giessbach Bahn — brings guests up from the hotel’s own boat pier, which adds to the remoteness of this idyllic place. “When you look towards the lake you don’t see any roads,” enthuses von Weißenfluh. “It is unspoilt nature as far as the eye can see.” Breathtaking views of the beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, forests and Alpine meadows invite anyone present to stop and pause for a moment.
Nature, nature, nature
On 22 hectares of garden, greenery and the Giessbach Park, guests can explore untouched nature on one of the many trails and tours and breathe in that crisp fresh air with its Alpine scent. There is also a lovely outdoor nature pool. This ecological swimming pool functions entirely without chemicals or chlorine and its water is much softer. The smart natural filtering system ensures germ-free water of the highest quality. Being one with nature has never been so easy.
And of course, there is the absolute highlight of the hotel, the impressive Giessbach Falls, which thunder down from 400 metres and across 14 steps. At night, they are skilfully illuminated and add a dramatic flair to the fairytale castle. No matter the season, it is an irresistible package that attracts travellers from all over the world time and time again.
The perfect event location all year long
The hotel is popular not only to unwind in and leave the noise of the city behind, but also for events of any kind, from corporate to fairytale weddings. With 75 rooms featuring all modern amenities, three fine-dining restaurants, a sophisticated bar and, in particular, the larger historic salons and halls such as the ballroom, the hotel is perfectly equipped to cater to any requirements.
A very special time for events is the beautiful winter season, explains von Weißenfluh: “You practically have the hotel to yourself and it has the vibe of a private guesthouse. Seven times a year, we also host our own classic dance ball, as well the unplugged concert series ‘Giessbach Sessions’ with very well-known Swiss and international artists. Cultural events have always played a major role in the history of the hotel and we certainly want to keep it that way.”
As a film location, the Grandhotel Giessbach has hosted movie legends like Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks as well as being the set in 2017 for the recently produced, critically acclaimed film Phantom Thread starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
“Even today, some people visit us just to see where Band of Brothers was filmed,” smiles von Weißenfluh. “But generally, guests come for a variety of different reasons. We welcome just as many business travellers as nature lovers or families. We also have a lot of Swiss guests because they appreciate how authentic our hotel has remained and there is also a great deal of emotion attached to it as it has been saved by the people of Switzerland in the eighties.” He sums up: “But across the board, you can say the hotel genuinely enchants everyone.” It is very easy to see why.
Can you hear the Giessbach Falls calling your name yet?