Hotel de Gruyeres – A Review By Punam Mohandas
Without a doubt, a stay at the Hotel de Gruyeres in the little village of Gruyeres in Switzerland has been among my most charming experiences and I totally recommend this property.
One of a handful of hotels in the village, it looks like a Swiss country home from the outside, with the typical slanted roof and chalet-style look and one would not imagine it to have 36-rooms within this space.
Visitors actually descend a level below the entrance to access the Reception area, which is small and businesslike. It is a bright space, made all the more cheery by the rows of hanging cowbells that serve as the room keys. There is also a room here where the Left Luggage can be placed.
With all concessions to modern trappings within its countrified environs, there is free wifi across the hotel as also a lift to take you to the upper floors. Rooms are divided into the following categories: Gruyere (standard); Chalamala (mountain view); Poya (mountain view with balcony) and Al Page (family rooms for between 4-5pax)
All the rooms are different, either in size or room design, although the common element are the curtains in pale cream with playful motifs in a deep red that go so well with the wooden flooring. Some of the rooms have lovely sloping roofs with inset skylights; I must confess here that, although I was given one of the more premium rooms, I quite wished I had been in one of these cosier ones instead!
The Family rooms come with the same sloping roof under which a study desk is placed and two sets of twin beds; most thoughtful. There is enough space so that an extra cot or baby bed can also be placed here if required.
I was accommodated in one of the Poya rooms. Quite the first thing one notices are the old wooden doors and wardrobe, and the timbered roof; it is a warm wood colour and not dark, which adds to the initial impression of homely charm. Along with the absolutely stunning view, the overall effect is warm and welcoming and very Swiss picture postcard!
The amenities provided by this small village hotel and the willingness to go the extra mile by obtaining for guests what may not be presently in the room, should put many a star brand to shame! The rooms come equipped with minibar, safe and hair dryer; kettle and bathrobe on request. Although the bathrooms have soap dispensers, the Hotel de Gruyeres goes a notch above and uses an organic product made with rosemary, thyme and Melissa instead of some ordinary supermarket wash. All bathrooms have bathtubs.
Sadly, at the moment the 50-covers restaurant caters only for breakfast (hotel residents are given 10% discount vouchers for the two restaurants in the village under the same management: Le Chalet de Gruyeres and Maison du Gruyere.) A small terrace outside can seat about 12-pax. I use the word ‘sadly’ because the restaurant is quite marvelous; done up in deep crimson with the same curtains as in the rooms, it gives an atmosphere of a very pleasing, country lodge and one can quite imagine a dinner evening well spent here with oven fresh bread, robust soup, crackling fire and of course – the Gruyere!
The Salle des Chevaliers is a spacious area with sauna and steam facilities and also a small, basic gym. While there are a couple of chaise lounges inside, there is a truly serene relaxation area outside, with sun loungers on the faux grass patio and where one can just breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the chirping of the birds in a tranquil atmosphere.
The hotel also has a really wide outside terrace just off to its entrance, with sun loungers as well as chairs; a great place to unwind with a book or relax with an aperitif as you enjoy the sweeping panorama.
Rather surprisingly, this cosy hotel offers two meeting rooms; one that can seat 15-pax boardroom style and also has a patio outside which can be used for small get-togethers and the other that can accommodate 20-25pax classroom style. There is a small pantry area between the two rooms.
Furthermore, the Hotel des Gruyeres is only one of two hotels in the village that provides private parking.
While some of the staff are local, the rest are shy but friendly Portuguese ladies. The staff at the Reception desk speak passable English. It would be remiss of me if I did not make particular mention of the Hotel Manager, Mrs Noelle Meyer, who goes out of her way and sometimes bends the rules in order to make sure her guests are in absolute comfort – for instance, although the hotel does not provide a tea/coffee maker in the room, she not only supplied me with a kettle but also teabags, sugar and fresh milk! Apart from this, she switched on the sauna for me and ensured I had a most restful evening after all the walking of the day.
As mentioned, Gruyeres is a small village in the canton of Fribourg, best known for its cheese by the same name – Gruyere – which, incidentally, is one of the world’s most premium cheeses, with a sweet nutty flavour when young and a sharper taste as it ages. You can spend about half a day at the cheese factory and then walk up to the village (10-minutes distance) and visit the old castle and chapel. It is so peaceful in the village that one can spend a lazy afternoon just listening to the lowing of the cows and the tinkling of their bells as they graze grass. Gruyeres is also famous for the HR Giger museum; Giger worked on many Hollywood movies too and was part of the special effects team that won an Academy Award for the film, ‘Aliens.’ He described his distinctive style as “bio-mechanical;” a melding of humans with machines. Apart from the museum, I urge you to visit the unusual café just across that showcases his work in a unique manner, such as dinosaur skeleton chairs and tables and his baby sculptures.
Quite honestly, Gruyeres is on the tourist map because of the Chocolate Train tour that starts from Montreux, takes visitors to the Gruyeres cheese shop and then on to the Cailler chocolate factory at Broc. If you would like to visit Gruyeres on your own, take a train from either Montreux or Fribourg (CHF 16.80 one way) You can also take the bus from Broc or Bulle (CHF 6 one way)
HOTEL DE GRUYERES
TEL: +41 269218030
FAX: +41 269218039
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.