Spending time at the Maiensässhotel Guarda Val felt like stepping into a Swiss fairytale. When I was a little girl I had two favourite books; ‘The Jungle Book‘ and the ‘Schellen-Ursli‘ (A bell for Ursli). The latter is one of Switzerland’s most famous children books (after ‘Heidi’) and tells the story of a little boy in the Lower Engadine, his adventures with regards to the traditional annual event the ‘Chalandamarz‘ and the simple life in the Swiss Alps in general.
At the Maiensässhotelhotel Guarda Val, you will experience such simplicity, but combined with luxury. I’ts a truly delightful combination if you ask me. The hotel, which is located at the Maiensäss Village Sporz (1600m), above Lenzerheide, oozes authenticity, charm and relaxation. It’s the ultimate getaway from the hustle and bustle and at under 2 hours from Zurich, a true gem!
For those unfamiliar with the term ‘Maiensäss‘, a Maiensäss is a small alpine settlement, consisting of basic huts and stable barns. These alpine pastures are typical in the region of Graubünden and usually located at around 1500 m above sea level. In the old days they were used as a mid-station habitat for the mountain farmers attending to their cattle, before bringing the herd down into the village for winter.
If you like rustic interiors, you will be in heaven at the Guarda Val! The village consists of 11 buildings, some of which are up to 300 years old, housing 50 rooms and suites aka ‘Stube’ (living rooms), a reception, two restaurants, meeting rooms and a spa. After a very warm welcome, where we were given lots of information and tips on how to make the best out of our stay, we were escorted to our ‘Stube’ in the building Simonet.
Given the architecture of the individual huts and buildings at the Guarda Val, each room and each Stube is different. They range from smaller double rooms to entire chalets offering you every imaginable luxury (at the corresponding price tag), including a large jacuzzi tub, a private sauna and a home cinema. Our ‘Stube’, though not quite as luxurious, had everything we could have asked for. Spread across the ground floor of one of the older buildings, it featured original floor boards as well as the original small wooden windows, low ceilings with wooden beams and breathtaking views from the balcony.
The interior design is contemporary rustic. Lots of natural materials, such as wood, wool, jute, wrought iron, stone and linen create a cozy atmosphere. The bedroom featured a lovely rustic wooden bed, with simple wooden stools as bedside tables, a wrought iron wall lamp with jute lampshades, a typical ‘Bündner’ chair with a heart carved into its backrest and linen bedding with a little bow tie. The overall design is simplistic, but with great attention to detail and a high level of comfort. Our living room came equipped with a blue velvet sofa bed and various pieces of rustic wooden furniture creating a welcoming ambiance. The bathroom design was plain and modern with a touch of rustic of course. My young handsome companion (my godson 😉 and I were both enchanted with our little abode and even though we could have spent hours in our cozy hut, the mountains were calling us.
With the Rothorn (2865m) to one side, the Piz Scalottas (2323m) to the other and countless trails, peaks and lakes nearby, it’s easy to stay active. We decided to explore parts of the region by foot and other parts by mountain bike. On the first day we took an easy walk around the lake ‘Heidsee’ and were very impressed with the huge amount of leisure activities on offer. In the morning of day 2, we found out why mountain biking is considered an extreme sport… In the afternoon, we somewhat naively, decided to hike up to the Rothorn, or as we call it ‘the mountain that moves’, because regardless whom we asked along the way, the peak always seemed to be another 2 hours hike ahead of us. Needless to say, it was an adventurous day, but one we wouldn’t have wanted to miss. After hiking some 9.6 km and climbing 961 m in altitude, the thought of a hot tub and sauna never sounded better. In fact, that thought became my driving force on those last few hundred metres to the peak (not to mention the pressing desire to catch the last cable car down the mountain…).
Minutes after we got back to the hotel, I was in my bathrobe walking through the village, feeling slightly awkward until I spotted another lady doing the same. We looked at each other in relief and started laughing. The spa at the Guarda Val features a beautiful relaxation area on two levels including a couple of haybeds (which I highly recommend), a separate blockhouse converted into a sauna and an outdoor hot tub. The latter is a large wooden barrel and the water is heated by a wood oven. Sinking into the hot water, surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, fresh mountain air on my face and the sound of cow bells in my ears… made every single step up that peak worthwhile.
After an action packed day, there’s quite nothing like a delicious meal. At the Maiensässhotel Guarda Val you can choose between a hearty meal in a traditional alpine ambiance at the Restaurant Crap Naros (named after the mountain behind the hotel) or a fine dining experience at the Restaurant Guarda Val, awarded with 1 Michelin star and 16 Gault Millau. Both restaurants are overseen by chef Adrian Bürki and his team. We indulged in a selection of local specialties at the Crap Naros, including some rich and tasty ‘Capuns’, without feeling the tiniest bit of guilt…
After a restful night with the fresh mountain breeze entering the room and the soft sound of the occasional cow bell (I had no idea cows eat 24/7!), we were ready for our last day. Following a delicious breakfast, we headed up to the Piz Scalottas (this time we took the chairlift…) to enjoy the mesmerising panorama and couldn’t help but stare at our monstrous hike from the day before across the valley in awe. Getting completely soaked by a torrential downpour on our hike down, was excuse enough to head to the spa one last time, before leaving behind the comforts of a ‘simple, but luxurious life’…
Simone Aïda Baur and courtesy of Guarda Val
Note: This blog post was created in collaboration with the Maiensässhotel Guarda Val, the Arosa-Lenzerheide Tourism Office and Pesko Lenzerheide – your one stop shop for sports, fashion and rental gear (press trip).
Posted by Simone Aïda Baur: I’m a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-passionate award winning international interior designer, award winning blogger and ex-hotelier. Feel free to learn more about my story and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.
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