When deciding where to stay in Gimmelwald, Switzerland, know that this will be the first of many easy decisions you’ll make on your trip.
Gimmelwald is a veritable Alpine retreat—the perfect place to “get away from it all.” As cliché as that sounds, it’s absolutely true and you’ll see exactly what I mean when you get here.
Gimmelwald is little more than a secluded village on a mountainside in the Swiss Alps. There are no cars, no worries, plenty of cows, and the most incredible views you can get from a hostel bathroom.
And the best part is that when it comes to choosing where to stay in Gimmelwald, you aren’t overwhelmed with choices. Everything here is juuuuuust right.
What is staying in Gimmelwald like?
Gimmelwald is a place so peaceful, so idyllic, you won’t believe it even exists. It’s wonderfully silent, except for the cowbells and waterfalls. At night it’s pitch dark and perfect for stargazing. The air is clean and fresh and the roads are devoid of cars and trucks. It’s nothing less than pure Alpine bliss.
That being said, Gimmelwald still may not be for everyone as it’s one of the more remote Alps destinations. The village is barely more than a collection of chalets (+ a schoolhouse) with its own stop on the cable car up to the Schilthorn.
Since there are no roads and no automobiles, staying in Gimmelwald requires a lot of walking, up and downhill. It also requires a good amount of preplanning as there aren’t any real restaurants, grocery stores, or pharmacies in Gimmelwald. However, you can find those in nearby Mürren which is more of a resort town.
To get to the other villages you’ll have to hike (45 minutes uphill to Mürren on a paved path) or take the cable car up to Mürren or back down into the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Preplanning is essential if there are things you’ll need while you’re in town.
If those few things don’t bother you, you’re in for an absolute dream of an experience here in Gimmelwald.
Parking in Gimmelwald
So yes, there are no cars in Gimmelwald. If you’ll be driving to Gimmelwald from, say, Oktoberfest in Munich like I did last time, parking is still no problem.
Gimmelwald is up on the side of a mountain and the only way to get there from the valley is to take the cable car one stop up from Stechelberg. At the cable car station in Stechelberg there is a large (paid) parking lot where you can keep your car during your stay in Gimmelwald.
If you need something out of your car during your stay, you’ll just have to take the cable car down and back up again.
Where to stay in Gimmelwald, Switzerland
The best part about deciding where to stay in Gimmelwald is that your choices are already narrowed down for you. In fact, you can count the number of places to stay on one hand, and use your free hand to pet the baby goats. You can’t lose!
Here is the short list of where to stay in Gimmelwald that includes hostels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, and hotels.
Mountain Hostel Gimmelwald
On my first trip to Gimmelwald, I stayed at the oh-so-popular Mountain Hostel. This was actually my first time ever staying at a hostel. And it was everything I expected it to be—backpackers, beer, a free-roaming cat, hipsters on guitars.
Mountain Hostel Gimmelwald is the most popular place in town, known worldwide [in some very small circles]. It’s also the first stop after disembarking the cable car which helps if you arrive at night in the pitch darkness of the Alps. Stick your arms out in front of you and feel your way through the darkness to the closest lamplight and you’re there! (But keep in mind, so is the edge of the mountain.)
The Mountain Hostel sits right on the mountainside and offers the most amazing patio you’ve ever sat on. You can hear the distant waterfalls flowing from melting snowcaps and see the sunset in its perfect pink glory—all while drinking some locally-made Swiss beer.
Full disclosure though: you can enjoy Mountain Hostel’s patio whether or not you’re staying the night here as it’s open to the public—so don’t let this be the deciding factor. Views for everyone!
Mountain Hostel also has a billiard room; an entertainment room with piano, books, games, and more; a fire pit; and laundry facilities. They offer free WiFi but only on the condition that you actually need it. Take a look around! There’s nothing on your phone that’s more incredible than what you’ll find in Gimmelwald, I promise.
Mountain Hostel rooms
The Mountain Hostel is just that, a hostel. It offers communal rooms with communal bathrooms. For the price, this is a great deal. For someone who sleeps in embarrassing headgear every night, maybe not. Or for someone with night terrors, who sleep walks, or who forgot to bring earplugs, definitely not.
And for those people, they do offer a handful of private rooms too.
Mountain Hostel room choices include:
- Shared rooms for up to 6 people in bunk beds
- Larger shared rooms for up to 16 people in bunk beds – This is where I slept. Do. Not. Forget. Your earplugs.
- Women-only shared rooms (bunk beds)
- Private double rooms
Regardless of which room type you choose, you’ll have to share a bathroom. There is one central bathroom (with showers) for women and one for men. So make sure to bring your flippy-floppies!
The rooms are simple: bunk beds, mattresses, sheets, comforters, pillows. Not a lot of storage space but you can fit some stuff under the beds or on the benches in the room. Or, you can be like me and just spoon with your backpack all night because getting robbed abroad is not fun.
Nothing about Gimmelwald or the Mountain Hostel feels unsafe, but it is a communal hostel with communal rooms so privacy and security aren’t major amenities here. (The private rooms do not lock.) If these two things are major factors for you, check out the other options for where to stay in Gimmelwald.
Food & Drink at Mountain Hostel
Though I wouldn’t call it a restaurant, per se, the Mountain Hostel does have a room that serves food and drinks. Ok, fine, call it a restaurant.
On their patio and inside at the bar and “restaurant” they serve beer, cocktails, pizza, and chocolate cake. I know, like what more could you want? The menu is simple but it’s food in a town where you can’t buy food. Plus, it’s served by a friendly staff in front of mind-blowing mountain views.
Additionally, they also have a large kitchen where you can keep and cook your own meals—as long as you clean up after yourself.
Staying at the Mountain Hostel Gimmelwald
Mountain Hostel is the most popular and well-known place to stay in Gimmelwald so booking ahead is recommended. They accept Swiss francs, euros, or credit card.
Right next to the Mountain Hostel is the Pension Gimmelwald, a 19th-century Swiss mountain hotel and another great place to stay in Gimmelwald.
Like the Mountain Hostel, Pension Gimmelwald is super close to the cable car station and offers a great patio scene open to all Gimmelwald visitors.
But unlike any of the other places to stay in town, Pension Gimmelwald is famous for their Honesty Shop, which is exactly what it sounds like. The Pension Gimmelwald Honesty Shop is a place to get souvenirs, snacks and drinks, and local crafts that relies solely on the honor system.
There are no security cameras and the place isn’t staffed. Grab what you need, put your money in an envelope, and drop it into the honesty box. (I told you Gimmelwald was precious!)
Pension Gimmelwald rooms
The Pension Gimmelwald is a hotel, not a hostel, so it lieu of shared rooms with bunk beds you get a collection of standard double and triple rooms. Some even come with their own bathrooms ensuite!
Pension Gimmelwald room choices include:
- Double rooms with private bathroom ensuite
- Double rooms with shared bathrooms (sink in the room, toilet and showers are shared)
- Triple rooms with shared bathrooms (sink in the room, toilet and showers are shared)
And you can even book their studio apartment that includes a small kitchen, dining area, bathroom with bathtub, and microwave and sleeps up to 7 people.
Food & Drink at Pension Gimmelwald
Pension Gimmelwald has more of a restaurant as we know it that offers European and Alpine classics that are always fresh, seasonal, homemade, and filling.
They have indoor and outdoor restaurant space, a bar, and an awesome biergarten with a view where they serve their own beer—Schwarz Mönch.
You can pick up snacks and drinks in the Honesty Shop and you can even book your room with half-board (dinner and breakfast included).
Staying at Pension Gimmelwald
Pension Gimmelwald has a 2-night minimum.
Just across the street (the one and only street in town) from Pension Gimmelwald is Esther’s Guesthouse, where I stayed on my most recent visit to Gimmelwald.
Much like the Mountain Hostel lived up to my expectations, so did Esther’s Guesthouse which presented exactly like it sounds. A lady named Esther, mandatory quiet time, lace curtains, retired teachers, dolls. Yes, dolls. I think the phrase you’re looking for here is “Thug Life.”
What Esther’s Guesthouse lacks in incredible mountain/valley views (you miss a lot on this side of the street apparently), it makes up for in glimpses of Gimmelwaldian daily life. From here you can watch how this tiny town operates—and there’s nothing like waking up and watching a few cows stroll through the town center.
But the Swiss-ness doesn’t stop there. Esther’s is the kind of place where you’ll literally find Swiss chocolate on your nightstand and leave with a goodie bag of chocolates and postcards.
And Esther is the kind of host who will absolutely smoke you on the hiking trails. Honestly, I didn’t know trekking poles could move so fast. Meanwhile, I was borderline needing to be resuscitated when she flew past.
Rooms at Esther’s Guesthouse
At a certain point in life, you can no longer stand the thought of sharing a room with 15 strangers in an effort to save a few bucks. Instead, you desire a room of your very own where you don’t have to worry about someone rifling through your bag or forgetting to take toilet paper to the bathroom when you go.
That time came a lot earlier for me than I expected. So, on my most recent visit to Gimmelwald I stayed at Esther’s Guesthouse… where I shared a room with just 4 others that I know and love.
Esther’s Guesthouse’s room choices include single, double, triple, and quad rooms that can sleep anywhere from 1 to 6 people. All of the rooms are private. The rooms on the second floor have shared bathrooms but the rooms on the third floor have private bathrooms of your very own. All guests share a common kitchen and dining area.
They also offer three apartment-style rooms that feature living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms.
- Apartment A sleeps 2-4 people
- Apartment B sleeps 2-5 people and features a large balcony
- and Apartment C sleeps 6-8 people in 3 bedrooms and also has a large balcony with panoramic views
- You can get a good idea of Esther’s rooms in this video:
Food & Drink at Esther’s Guesthouse
As this is a bed and breakfast and all, there isn’t a restaurant or bar on site. But do yourself a favor and opt in to the fabulous breakfast they offer. Fresh milk and juices, homemade jams (did you know you could make jam out of dandelions?), fresh eggs, breads, meats, cheeses, on and on and on. What a delight.
Esther’s also has a kitchen area with a refrigerator and plenty of space to cook your meals and put away the leftover booze you absolutely can’t finish but hope some of the retired school teachers use for a good time. And we all know they will.
Staying at Esther’s Guesthouse
Esther’s also has a 2- or 3-night minimum, depending on which room type you book. But honestly, you won’t want to leave Gimmelwald. They should actually set a maximum here.
Also, you’re going to have to be okay sharing space with the dolls. Dun-dun-dunnnn
Olle & Maria’s Bed and Breakfast
A little further “into town,” if you will, is Olle & Maria’s Bed and Breakfast—more along the lines of what you think of when you hear “bed and breakfast.”
This building is actually their home where they rent out a few of the rooms. Olle and Maria are Gimmelwald’s two schoolteachers.
Rooms at Olle & Maria’s Bed and Breakfast
There are three available rooms here at Olle & Maria’s and, though they only have three, they are some of the nicer ones in town.
Olle & Maria’s room choices include:
- Apartment with a double bed, its own private entrance, kitchen, and bathroom
- Double room with a terrace (and a telescope!) but with shared bathroom and a shared kitchen between the family and other guests
- Triple room with terrace access, shared bathroom and kitchen
Food & Drink at Olle & Maria’s
Breakfast is included in the name but not actually in the price. However, breakfast is available upon request for a fee. I haven’t personally stayed here and can’t speak to their offerings but TripAdvisor reviews will tell you it’s amazing. (And I have no doubt.)
For all other meals, head up the street to Pension Gimmelwald or the Mountain Hostel.
Staying at Olle & Maria’s
Olle & Maria’s also has a 3-night minimum. Reservations can only be made directly through their website and they do not take credit cards. (But will accept PayPal and cash upon arrival.)
The best place to stay in Gimmelwald for breathtaking views
Yes, I said ‘breathtaking.’ And if you think it’s a cliché, you’ll understand when you get here.
The nature of Gimmelwald—a tiny mountain village on a cliffside—means there’s never a bad view. However, if you want to take in these views while you sleep, eat, drink, and pee, you’ll want to stay at either the Mountain Hostel or Pension Gimmewald.
Both of these are located on the cliffside with panoramic views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the three big mountain peaks—the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.
The best place to stay in Gimmelwald for peace and quiet
Gimmelwald is all about that peace and quiet in every corner, but when you’re deciding where to stay in Gimmelwald for just that, stick with Esther’s Guesthouse.
Unlike the Mountain Hostel with its rec rooms and common areas, and Pension Gimmelwald with its beer-laden patio, Esther’s maintains a nighttime quiet policy.
The best place to stay in Gimmelwald for meeting fellow travelers
If its fellow travelers you’re looking to meet in Gimmelwald, you can’t go wrong with either Mountain Hostel, Pension Gimmelwald, or Esther’s Guesthouse. The first two are made for communing while at Esther’s there’s a good chance you’ll make friends at breakfast.
If it’s Gimmelwald locals you’re looking to chat with, Olle & Maria’s is the best place to stay for you.
Enjoy your time in Gimmelwald!
Are you more of a hostel or B&B traveler?
Let me know in the comments!
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