Michael Cranmer stays at the Cambrian Hotel in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland.
In 1902 Arnold Lunn first brought organised ski tours to Adelboden from England. We Brits loved the place and kept coming back, summer and winter, with hotels like The Grand Hotel Regina catering to them.
That original building in the fabulous Belle Époque style remains but is now extensively restored. Now The Cambrian Hotel, it has retained the grandeur of its previous iteration whilst transforming into a modern four-star superior Design Hotel of the World.
Welshman Grant Maunder, together with his brother and their family, first visited 40 years ago. He fell in love with the place and vowed one day to own it. Fast forward to an older, now wealthy, Grant, who bought it with his brother in 2009, renamed it The Cambrian Hotel, signed up celeb chef Bryn Williams – an acolyte of Marco Pierre White and Michel Roux – and commissioned Melin Tregwynt’s wool mill in west Wales to make bespoke blankets for the rooms. “I’ve done what I can to bring a bit of Wales to Adelboden” he said.
The results are self-evident. Young, welcoming, intelligent staff, easy-on-the-eye rooms and furnishings and an immediate atmosphere of tranquillity are first impressions. No need for eco-damaging road transfers from Zurich; take the ever-efficient Swiss rail then a simple transfer up the last bit of the valley by No 230 bus which deposits you right outside the hotel.
All public rooms and the majority of the bedrooms face directly across the sweeping valley to the Engstligenalp with its highest skiing. You wake in the morning looking at this priceless view: you breakfast picking out which runs to visit, you sauna, steam, or swim in the amazing infinity pool remembering where you have been, and in the bar and later the restaurant you relive the day’s sun and snow and skiing.
This is not a Design Hotel of the World for nothing. The theme throughout is natural wood, Dutch designers Johan Bouman and Jeroen Wand applying layers of contrasting veneers by hand and eye, each unique and each so tactile its impossible not to run your hands over the walls, headboards, and armoires. Soft Welsh wool throws abound. In the bar and restaurant, the acoustics – so often ignored in the quest for ‘cool’ – have been cleverly dealt with so that noise levels are as muted as the designers’ colour palette.
Many of the guests are east and west coast Americans to whom money is of no concern. They expect the highest of standards and service. Ditto Swiss clients. Bryn William’s restaurant produces world-class dishes from local, seasonal produce. Adelboden is first and foremost a farming community, so he is surrounded by his larder.
Likewise, drinks. Less than two kilometres away is a natural spring water bottling plant supplying the hotel. In the Axe bar locally brewed Ax beer with its own unique branding underlines the ethos. Or you could try a cocktail, something a little off the wall… ‘When The Irish Meets The Welsh –– Peated, elegant Connemara single malt, homemade Welsh cake syrup, with cranberry bitters.’
All 72 rooms are different with names to match like The Adelboden and The Snowden. The Family Suite, way up in the eaves, is set over two floors, with a king-size bed and two single beds on the mezzanine level.
Down below the bar and restaurant is the spa, heated indoor and outdoor pools, Finnish sauna, steam bath, rain shower, and fitness studio. Time slips away in the infinity pool, wreaths of steam gently rising from the surface, the distant peak of the 3,446m Rinderhorn painted pink by the rays of the setting sun.
The very essence of this fabulous hotel.
Tell Me More About The Cambrian Hotel
The Cambrian Hotel Dorfstrasse 7 CH-3715 Adelboden
T:+44336738383 E: email@example.com
Family suite at the Cambrian Hotel from CHF650 per night
Swiss International Air Lines to Zurich:
The Swiss Travel Pass offers unlimited travel on consecutive days across the Swiss rail, bus and boat network:
Adult 5-day lift pass CHF281