Absolute, flat-out, breathtaking, awe-inspiring, memory-making paradise. That’s what the Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald is. I spent one of the best weeks of my life at this fantastic place. The location in amazing, but it’s really the environment that sets this hostel apart. Nowhere else in my travels have I come across a place full of so many friendly, caring people. There aren’t any lockers, which initially scared me. But soon enough I discovered it’s a beautiful reflection of the fantastic atmosphere here, because you never have to worry about anyone ever touching your stuff. The rooms aren’t incredibly spacious, but that’s also ok because everyone is courteous and makes an effort to get along with one another. It really is like living in a dream here.
Breakfast is provided, and during my stay it consisted of bread, generic nutella, chocolate muesli, and milk. There’s a coffee machine for which you receive 1 token per day, but honestly the coffee wasn’t that great. Try to go for the free tea that’s usually in the kitchen. Showers do cost 1 franc, which might be a surprise at first – but prepare yourself: everything in Switzerland costs money, and usually a lot of it. There’s a very well-stocked kitchen that has everything you might need for preparing lunches and dinners, along with a fridge where you can store any cold items you might have. There’s a few local cheese shops in Gimmelwald, but for any substantial groceries there’s a very nice Coop store up in Mürren – a beautiful 30 minute walk or short gondola ride away. Mürren also provides the nearest ATM if you’re needing more Francs, unless I missed one in Gimmelwald. There’s also a lock-out time from 9:30am – 11am. If you stay here, please try to abide by that time. The staff really needs it to keep the place tidy! Laundry is available, but it costs 5 francs to use a washer. Dryers, however, are free. There’s also an additional building that offers a free pool table. I didn’t have any of the food from the bar/restaurant at the hostel, but everything I saw looked delicious and smelled even better. I can recommend the dark lager Rugen Brau that’s on tap there. I’m definitely not a beer connoisseur by any means, but I found this one to be very good, although expensive.
If you’re looking to go hiking, Gimmelwald makes for a perfect jumping off point. There’s a multitude of maps and guide books in the main room of the hostel, and the staff is more than willing to suggest good hikes in the area. A few suggestions from my experience:
1: Chilchbalm. This hike heads straight out of Gimmelwald to the end of the valley. The end point provides a beautiful view of the mountain amphitheater. Total round trip mileage is about 5.3 miles.
2. Tanzboden. This hike is absolutely fantastic, especially on a day with clear weather. You head across the river and up the ridge towards a small jut of rock called Spitzhorn (The Shark Fin). While it is pretty aggressive, the end point of this hike provides you with breathtaking views of the adjacent valley that is hidden when in Gimmelwald. Tanzboden translates to “The Dance Floor,” which is the flat expanse of grass and alpine flowers you reach at the base of Spitzhorn. If you’re an experienced hiker or climber, you can get up to the top of Spitzhorn for even greater landscape views.
3. Bryndli. This hike leads to a peak that juts over the valley in which Gimmelwald is located. If you can, head on past the point and continue further up to a flat plain that leads to Rotstockhutte. I ran here one morning with a really awesome guy I met at the hostel one night, and it was one of the greatest runs I’ve ever been on. Once you make it beyond Bryndli you’re treated to incredible views, and you can’t help but be in awe as the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau loom over you in the background.
4. Schilthorn. This hike is pretty aggressive, as it includes over 5000ft of elevation gain. But the views from the top of the mountain can be worth it if you have a clear day. There’s also a cable car that will take you all the way to the revolving restaurant and James Bond memorabilia at the top, but it is very expensive. It does make for a weird experience if you hike it, though. Arriving at the top of a peak after a long hike and finding a whole bunch of tourists and a fancy restaurant just seems so out of place compared to the usual cairn and registry.
5. Any trail your heart desires! There are so many options for trails to explore, and it’s impossible to pick one that won’t deliver amazing views or great memories. So whether you’re looking for the best trail running you’ll ever find or a nice stroll through beautiful Swiss flowers, just get out & explore!
A few notes on how to get to Gimmelwald. From the Interlaken Ost Station (Not to be confused from Interlaken West), take a train to Lauterbrunnen, catch the waiting bus outside the station to the Stechelberg gondola station, and take the gondola to the first stop of Gimmelwald. The total cost to get from Interlaken to Gimmelwald is 16 francs if I remember correctly, and it’s handy to buy one ticket for the entire trip from the information booth at the Interlaken train station instead of purchasing tickets for each route along the way.
So that’s all to say, you have to come here. Once you’re here, you’ll realize what everyone means by the “Magic of Gimmelwald,” and you’ll understand why you never have to travel anywhere else in the world. Come to the Mountain Hostel. Come to paradise.
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- Also Known As:
- Mountain Hotel Gimmelwald