I am preparing for a series of work trips this year and I thought it would still be nice to have an Easter getaway without taking the plane. So, I decided to stay within Switzerland. I was actually in a middle of a very stressful week when I randomly saw the Grandhotel Giessbach. By just looking at the photos and description of the hotel, I knew it is exactly what I needed to rest and recuperate. Without knowing where it is, I booked the hotel.
Grandhotel Giessbach is approximately 10-14 minute drive or a 5-10 minute boat ride from the town of Brienz – a small town next to the famous Interlaken.
I was a bit worried that the travel to Grandhotel Giessbach was going to be complicated when I saw there’s a boat involved. However, the hotel provided shuttle pick up from Brienz main station.
The train ride to Brienz required 2 transfers: Geneva to Bern, Bern to Interlaken Ost, and Interlaken Ost to Brienz. The transfers were easy and convenient in terms of the timing and platform locations. I thought I was just going to sleep the entire ride but the views from the trains were too amazing to miss. The total travel time from Geneva to Grandhotel Geissbach was about 3 hours and 30 minutes. With the demi-tariff, I paid CHF 135 for first class return tickets.
There are 3 ways to get to the Grandhotel Giessbach and waterfalls if you are not driving. First is via boat plus funicular. The boat station is next to the Brienz train station. The boat ride to Geissbach is about 5-10 minutes. The funicular that will take you up to the Geissbach hotel or waterfalls is immediately next to the boat station. The funicular is said to be one of the historic funiculars in Switzerland. The boat and funicular are perfectly timed so guests won’t end up waiting for the boat or the funicular for a very long time. Hotel guests have free access to the funicular so, I’m not really sure how much it costs.
A second option to get to the Grandhotel Giessbach or waterfalls from Brienz is by the Grandhotel Giessbach shuttle rides. They can take non-hotel guests for a fee, provided there is enough room. Call the hotel ahead of time to ensure they have space for non-hotel guests.
Lastly, I was told by the hotel that there are public buses that can go up close to the hotel. I did not see one when I was there but you can ask about this at the tourist information centre next to the train station in Brienz.
The hotel was beautiful as I hoped it would be and the staff were kind and helpful – more than the usual Swiss hospitality. It was isolated from any towns and surrounded by forest and, of course, there’s the Giessbach waterfalls.
After checking in at the hotel, I talked to my husband on the phone and fell asleep for the rest of the afternoon. I only came out of my room to have dinner at their Restaurant Les Cascade. It is worth having a dinner at Restaurant Les Cascade. It can be quite expensive so if you are also planning to stay in the hotel, ask if they have a package for dinner as well – it will be a lot cheaper than a walk-in and ordering a la carte.
The following day, after an excellent breakfast at the hotel, I decided to go for a hike. It was my first time to go hiking solo but it was an easy hike despite the snow. The hotel is surrounded by many hiking trails that could go from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Ask the reception for hiking information and they will gladly provide you with recommendations.
I was initially disappointed when it started snowing when I was there because the weather started to get warm on my first day in Giessbach. However, the snow provided a beautiful, magical and picture-perfect surroundings when I did my hike.
I went back to Geneva on the third day feeling refreshed and well-rested. It was my first time to also spend the Easter weekend in the snow since I usually travel to sunny places but it was worth it.
Brienz and Giessbach are such nice towns, without the big touristy vibes of Interlaken. I would definitely recommend this to trip for a quiet weekend. It is also a nice travel itinerary for solo travellers.