Feeling Hygge in the Swiss Alps
Hygge = Danish word for a feeling of home, comfort, like a hot chocolate sitting by the fire reading a book
You might know Vals in the mountains of Switzerland from the thermal baths: 7132 Therme & Spa designed by famed Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. To finally visit the hyped baths I went to Vals for a weekend and stayed in the wonderful Brücke 49.
Run by a Danish-Swiss couple this guesthouse is a kind of its own:
"These new innkeepers are focused on style, nuanced service, and general citizen-of-the-world cool. The owners' impeccable taste can be felt in every detail from the Ole Wanscher furniture to the William Morris wallpaper."
- Travel & Leisure USA
I had to steal that quote from their website, because it tells the whole feeling of staying at the Brücke 49 in two sentences that I'll never be able to form on my own. When I arrived in the evening, I was greeted by Thomas, the Nordic part of the couple. He was a very pleasant fella, offering me coffee, and patiently explaining me how things work at the Brücke 49.
I was staying on the top floor in one of a total of four rooms. Loved the Scandinavian furniture mixed with the wooden alpine chic that we are used to nowadays in the alps (I am a big fan, btw).
The radiator below the window was interesting: it made crackling sounds which I first (mistakenly) thought were a sign of old plumbing or so, but actually I now think it was made that way so that it sounds like a fireplace. At least it felt like that, which was awesome and the next best thing to an actual fireplace crackling in the cold, snowy winter. (= hygge!)
Nice and comfy room. Now you probably wonder: where is the bathroom?
Well, it's actually one shared bathroom on each floor, meaning there were two shower rooms and two bathrooms with a toilet in total. It was not as bad as I thought, because you only shared it with one other room and those bathrooms were impeccable. Unfortunately, you'll have to take my word for it, since I totally forgot to take a photo. I really don't know why. Or go to their website. They had a really cool all-white finishing on the floor and walls. I don't know the material, but it seemed very slick. Oh, and the soaps, shower gels and lotions came from Aesop - love it.
Breakfast is a treat at the Brücke. When you enter the common eating room/living room with an adjacent super-modern kitchen, one of the owners and a helper already prepared everything on this welcoming big wooden table. (= hygge!)
Now, you have to generally like other people if you stay here, because you are bound to have to talk to them at least at breakfast, where you will most probably sit at the same table. I for one liked it, since the people I met have been very interesting and likeable. Remember, only four rooms in the house.
As soon as you sit down, the host or hostess will ask you what coffee you like and how you like your eggs. (= hygge!)
Breakfast is also the occasion where the hosts will tell you all about Vals and the possible activities like skiing and going to the Therme. I had booked a package there via the Brücke which included a massage, lunch and entry to the baths at 7132. And they add a cute surprise of which they don't tell you about in advance: you get picked up by a limousine from the guesthouse to take you the five-minute ride up the hill. It's the details!
You can linger in the living room or library, have a glass of wine while reading a design book, a newspaper, a magazine or get in touch with other guests.
Instead of a mini-bar you could actually enjoy drinks found in the kitchen or Gin bar in the library/living room (with a comfy tiled stove). Again the attitude towards guests was admirable: Just take what you want and note it in your list. They had good wine in the fridge, water (of course from Vals own source), tonic water and an interesting choice of Gins. I personally would have liked some Scotch or Rum, but for the two nights, I was happy with the choice.
You might have noticed that my review was rather glowing this time. I have to admit that I really liked this little guesthouse. If I am ever gonna open one, it's gonna be like the Brücke. My home even has similar furnishings.
So even if you are usually used to luxury temples for your travels (hey, I also love those, mind you), try a place like this once in a while. It'll be worth it (not mentioning that it's actually cheaper)...and super-hygge!
Well, let me quote their website one more time to say goodbye:
Come as a guest - Leave as a friend