We've wanted to stay at this hotel for many years after seeing their ads in the New Yorker magazine and fantasizing about the "children's nursery" when our kids were little and we needed a break.
What a fabulous hotel, staff and location. Of four hotels on our recent trip to Switzerland, the Waldhaus was our favorite.
The hotel is perched on a hill with a 360 degree, unobstructed view. The most desirable rooms have a view facing the Silsersee (the large lake with Maloja at one end and the Sils villages at the other). We opted for one of their more expensive rooms (around 500 CHF/swiss francs per night). Our room and the views were spectacular. As you face the front of the hotel, our room was on the upper right with an extra large balcony. We had complete privacy on our balcony- could've sat out there naked if we'd wanted.
The views were exquisite- I would compare them to the Wyoming Tetons, but in the Tetons, there are no hotels of this quality with views this great (I'm including Jenny Lake Lodge/cabins and the Amangani in my assessment). We usually don't spend so much on a room but everything in Switzerland is expensive and we took the half board plan and decided to regard our stay at the Waldhaus as a "cruise on land."
Our friends opted for a less expensive room around 300CHF per night facing the other direction (overlooking the village of Sils-Maria and the Silvaplana lake in the distance). Their room was similar to the one the previous reviewer photographed. To us it seemed slightly depressing but they were happy.
This hotel was built in the 1800s (?) and has been owned by the same family ever since. Everything runs smoothly and effortlessly. All of the staff from the front desk to the waiters were very professional, friendly and happy. Our only slightly odd experience was on arrival, a very serious young woman showed us our room options and then said "and now you must decide." I think part of the problem was her command of English.
The owner/mgrs (a middleaged grandson of the founder and his middle aged brother-in -law) were always available and very friendly, down to earth and spoke fluent English.
During our visit in mid- June, European kids are still in school so we saw only a handful of toddlers. During July, August and Christmas breaks there are probably more children for those of you interested in the kids program.
The majority of guests were older- in their 60s and 70s although we did see a few young families. Most of the guests dressed up for dinner (coat and tie) but the hotel tells you to be comfortable and wear whatever you want. We saw some families in sweatsuits and jeans and we only dressed up a little.
Dining: was mostly excellent and by Swiss prices, the half board plan was a real bargain.
Breakfast was fabulous and extensive. Our first dinner on Tues night was the Scandinavian buffet- outstanding and mind bogling in its array of offerings. Subsequent meals were never as good as Tues. If we were to stay there again for four nights, I would get the half board plan on a Tues and Fri or Sat and eat the rest of our dinners at Plaun de Lej (the tiny village mid way down the lake) at Restaurant Muratarol which Gault Millau awarded 13 stars. Everything we tried there was scrumptious. The vegetarian offerings at the Waldhaus were just so-so and the Waldhaus restaurant is not listed in Gault Millau. But overall we were happy with our meals which were of high quality and generally appealing.
Activities: walk along the lake to village of Maloja and then take a boat back to Sils. Walk up the Fex valley -absolutely exquisite- the path goes right by the Waldhaus or you could take a horse drawn carriage which leaves from the village of Sils-Maria. Drive to the unique village of Guarda about 1 1/2 hrs away.
Staying in one of the many little hotels/pensions down in the Sils villages: the problem is they all lack views of the Silsersee- only the Waldhaus has this view. On the weekend, the Sils villages became quite busy but were still charming. If we'd had more time I'd like to have eaten at the Alpenrose restaurant- a new restaurant and hotel which is Gault Millau listed. We were also glad not to be staying on the Silvaplana lake which is attractive but not nearly as beautiful as the Silsersee.
For budget travelers: we were entranced by the tiny village of Isola half way down the left (east?) side of the Silsersee. There was a cafe with a few rooms- I didn't see the rooms and am not sure how convenient public transportation would be if you don't have a car but the village and views were charming. Along the lake we saw many elderly folks walking or biking- truly amazing. Perhaps because it was mid week the trails were uncrowded but you'd never find a locale this scenic in Colorado or Wyoming or Yosemite so unspoiled and peaceful.
Another less expensive option for a room with views would be Restaurant Muratarol which also has a small hotel. The only drawback is that between the hotel and the lake is a fairly busy two lane road.
I could go on and on about the fabulous Waldhaus. We loved the Engadine and thought the Bernese Oberland, while very beautiful, was too crowded and touristy- not nearly as appealing.
A few minor criticisms:
The only toiletries offered in the room are a large communal hand soap dispenser and a large communal shower gel/shampoo dispensor in the shower. KInd of odd for a hotel of this caliber. I think it's possible they are being eco-conscious and not just a matter of being cheap. You can purchase toiletries in the gift shop. Our bathroom was fabulous otherwise- we'd like to bring it home with us.
All of the Swiss beds we encountered were extra firm and lacked box springs. The Waldhaus bed was typical Swiss and mediocre in quality although the linens were wonderful. We did not suffer from any back aches though.
In the basement of the hotel is a room with many computers available for a small fee but their internet was never working properly over a four day time span which would be very inconvenient for a business traveler.
Maid service was excellent with nightly turn down service and I sent out a few things to the hotel laundry- they did an excellent job. Overall, a wonderful, happy experience.
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- Also Known As:
- Waldhaus Hotel Sils Maria