With its location on the edge of Lake Brienz and beautiful timber buildings, Brienz is a village that is absolutely worth visiting on its own merits–especially during the summer when some of the greatest seasonal activities are at their height on Lake Brienz! Since it was late October for our visit, we were essentially just passing through on our way to our destination for the night: the Grandhotel Giessbach.
Built in the 1870s, the Grandhotel Giessbach has hosted world leaders, members of European society, and now, even we would be staying in this historic hotel…in decidedly less formal attire.
I have to admit we were a little embarrassed to stand in the center of the extravagant lobby, feeling completely out of place with our backpacks on as the staff checked us in for our one-night stay.
So how did we end up looking like the casual Californians that we are in this luxurious hotel high above Lake Brienz? I had been searching for day trips near our home base of Lauterbrunnen and quickly fell in love with images of the light blue waters of Lake Brienz and the small villages located around it, including Iseltwald. As I looked into spending time in Iseltwald, I started reading about hikes around the Giessbach Falls and eventually came across an off-season deal for a one-night stay at the Grandhotel Giessbach. We are so glad we took advantage of this deal that allowed us to explore yet another beautiful area of the Berner Oberland region and stay in one of Europe’s historic hotels!
We spent the afternoon hiking the pathways that guide visitors from the hotel to the Giessbach Falls. It’s hard to decide if its the natural environment or the hotel itself that is more beautiful as you walk along the hiking paths, catching glimpses of the hotel with Lake Brienz in the distance below. A visit to the area during the summer when the Hotel Funicular and Boat Pier are active would be more than worth your time!
We walked back to the hotel to watch the sunset from the terrace before heading back to our room to get ready for dinner. The hotel was preparing to close for the winter the week after our visit so it was very quiet but that didn’t keep the staff from providing incredible service throughout this beautiful hotel.
We were staying in a double room with a forest view but you can choose from over a dozen different room categories depending on what is most important to you–we wish we could have seen inside some of the rooms with a lake view! Like the rest of the hotel, our room was filled with turn-of-the-century details that made for a truly unique overnight stay!
The hotel offers multiple dining options that cater to guests and non-hotel guests alike. We watched from the Hotel Bar and Les Salons as diners made their way through the lobby to the restaurant. As for us, we were so comfortable sitting in front of the fire in the Hotel Bar that we opted to order food from the menu options available there.
Many of the guests were making their way back into the Hotel Bar for a post-dinner cocktail in front of the fire as we headed out to the front terrace for a view of the illuminated waterfall.
We woke up early the next morning and enjoyed the most beautiful breakfast buffet of our trip! We would have sat there for hours sipping on mimosas and espresso, enjoying the view of the Giessbach Falls from our table if the hotel shuttle wasn’t waiting to take us back to the Brienz train station.
But the last leg of our journey on the GoldenPass Line awaited and we were excited to reach our next destination: Lucerne!