Away from the hustle and bustle of city life with the only exception of the sounds of the cascading Giessbach waterfalls and the chirping of birds, the century old Geissbach Grand Hotel is as elegant and royal as it used to be decades ago. Surrounded by mountains, forests and alpine meadows, high above the vast turquoise glacial waters of the Lake Brienz, the view of the hotel, as you approach by the ferry, is simply breathtaking. A steep but short funicular ride – the oldest running funicular in Switzerland today- takes you to the hotel grounds.
Originally built in 1874/75, the grand hotel allured visitors from far beyond the country’s borders. The hidden oasis was the meeting point for heads of state, royal families, statesmen, diplomats and celebrated artists, who spent their time recuperating, making plans and exchanging gossip.
Then came the two world wars followed by severe economic crisis and inflation and the historic hotel fell into bad times and was eventually closed in 1979.
In May 1984, an international environmentalist Mr Franz Weber took efforts and re-opened the hotel while renovating the hotel in several stages over the years.
The majestic hotel’s brilliant exterior façade is a typical example of a Swiss chalet-style design aesthetics featuring five stories of luxurious accommodations connected via an ornate master staircase. Do not miss the panoramic views of the Alps and the lake below as you get on to the wrought iron staircase leading to the first floor restaurant. The interiors are just as elaborate and luxurious with classic elegance complete with baroque chandeliers, marble statues, a grand piano and a Victorian bar giving it a Victorian-era charm.
We were welcomed by the young hostess, who seated us on a table with a good view of the entire restaurant on one side and the Giessbach falls through a window on the other side…. just perfect. We were told that the hotel’s most cuisines are prepared from vegetables and herbs grown in their own garden and its historical greenhouses. Even the honey comes from Giessbach bees!
Since it was mid-morning we ordered a strawberry tartlet and steaming coffee and English Breakfast Tea, all served with their signature biscuits!
Enjoyed the mid-morning break and clicked few more pictures and off we went to the Giessbach waterfalls up close. The waterfall is dramatic if not mesmerizing with pure white glacial water gushing down in multiple stages. A small bridge at the lower level allows a direct view of the falls while actually it’s the main connectivity for trekkers.
A steep, rugged flight of steps leads you to a higher level where one can go behind the waterfalls and get even more dramatic view of the water falls and the lake and the mountains.
Back to hotel grounds we went down to the boat jetty via the funicular and took the boat to our next stop… Iseltwald!