The Last Grand Hotel

The Last Grand Hotel

A visit to one of the last Swiss Grand Hotels of the 19th Century.

/ Sebastian

The Hotel Bellevue des Alpes ranks among the few remaining grand hotels of the nineteenth century. The Kleine Scheidegg lies amid alpine splendor at the foot of the iconic Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau at 2070m above Grindelwald and Wengen in the heart of the Bernese Alps. As the center of the ski and hiking region, it is also the direct starting point to the Jungfraujoch, the highest-located train station in the Alps.

As one of the last grand hotels of the 19th century, the family-run hotel has been managed by the 5th generation of Andreas and Silvia von Almen's family since 1988. The building, the interior, and its guest list are steeped in history, while the hotel is also famous for being the location where "The Eiger Sanction" starring Clint Eastwood and "North Face" was filmed. Built-in 1840, the Bellevue des Alpes was last extended and renovated in 1948. Since then, any restoration carried out has focused exclusively on stylistic elements. All the interiors of the hotel's public spaces date back to the 1920s, while the rooms invite a little time travel. All the great mountaineers of the 20th century, as well as celebrities from society, skiing, and the film industry, have stayed in this hotel.

As early as 1800, a growing number of tourists were able to find refreshments on their tour over the Kleine Scheidegg. In 1835, the Bernese government issued a license for a summer inn in an alpine shelter to Peter Brawand of Grindelwald. Christian Seiler bought the inn in 1840, creating today's double hotel Bellevue des Alpes on top of the pass in several stages. The young enterprise received a boost from the opening of the Wengneralp railway in 1893, as its Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen-Wengen lines came together at the top of the pass. The new hotel building, still in ­existence, was opened in the same year as the railway line. Three years later the 'Wengneralp' alpine agricultural cooperative tried opening a competitor with the Hotel des Alpes on Lauterbrunnen territory. In 1912, the year that the Jungfrau railway with its terminal right in front of the two hotels opened, Bellevue owner Seiler was able to acquire his competitor, which he had leased. In 1929, as the winter season took off, the two hotels were combined into the current double hotel with a veranda and a large dining room addition. The amazingly authentic condition of the two historic hotel buildings is a result of many years of careful treatment of their structural fabric as well as of the interiors and appointments. The historic rooms on the main floor and the 1929 additions in the modern style of the time are as impressive as the remarkable number of guest rooms with period furniture and nostalgic bathrooms. You can book a room at the Bellevue des Alpes through 84 Rooms.

Photo credits: Jonathan Ducrest