One thing I didn’t know before moving to Switzerland is that you could literally live here an entire lifetime and not run out of new things to explore and discover. This small country packs a lot into its diminutive borders, mostly because what it lacks in square mileage it makes up for vertically! Luckily, with amazing mountains come amazing mountain villages and we were happy to have the chance to explore one of the lesser known mountain villages for a quick weekend escape.
This summer my mother-in-law was here for a visit and she was nice enough to watch the kids for us so we could have a little weekend getaway. Since there are so many nearby options, we had a hard time deciding what to do for the weekend…city? mountains? lake? But after some deliberation we decided it would be nice to go to the mountains and do some hiking on our own (read not at a snail’s pace 😉 ). I had read about a cute little mountain lodge in the village of Lenk im Simmental in the Bernese Oberland so we booked a room and had an amazing weekend!
Lenk im Simmental
Lenk is a small village at an altitude of 1068 meters in the Simmen valley. The Wildstrubel massif closes the valley and sets the scene for gorgeous hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. The town is also known for its sulphurous springs, which are thought to be healing waters, and they were the main reason tourists began visiting this mountain village.
S t a y
We stayed at the Lenk Lodge, a charming B&B run by a lovely couple, Fabienne and Roman Cortesi. The Cortesis bought and painstakingly restored an old farmhouse in 2013, transforming it into a chic and inviting guesthouse with great attention to detail and design.
What We Loved
I really loved the design of this place-very modern and hip but casual with lots of original farmhouse elements. Our room was nice and spacious and we enjoyed sitting out on the terrace in the afternoon, just admiring the mountain views. Another highlight was the complimentary coffee, tea, and water as well as yummy homemade afternoon cake that you could enjoy in the cozy lounge or outside in the pretty garden. In the evenings, you could choose a bottle of wine, beer, or something stronger from the lodge’s honesty bar…we love these because they are so convenient if you just want to have an easy night cap at the hotel! Breakfast was delicious with a buffet of local cheeses, bircher muesli, bread, jams, and eggs cooked to order. And a huge bonus of visiting Lenk in the summer is that you receive a pass to ride the cablecar and mountain railways for free when you stay in a Lenk hotel for at least one night. Finally, the best part of the Lenk Lodge is the staff who are so warm and welcoming. We’ve traveled our fair share here in Switzerland and while most generally the service is polite, you don’t always get the warmth that they have in spades at the Lenk Lodge. You can tell this B&B is really a labor of love for the Cortesis!
The only thing we didn’t love about this place is the shared bathrooms, which was almost a deal breaker when I was booking the trip. I really wanted to check this place out, so we went with it and in the end it was no big deal. They kindly provide robes and slippers so you don’t have to run to the loo in your pajamas and thankfully it was just right next door to our room. Three rooms share two bathrooms, and we were never waiting for a bathroom so the timing seemed to work out just fine. Fabienne mentioned that all the rooms they have on Booking.com are the ones with the shared bathrooms, so if you stay and would prefer a private bathroom just contact them directly.
Also to note, the lodge cannot accommodate children which is another reason we decided to visit while we had the chance! If you want to visit Lenk with kids, there are many other good choices in the area.
H I K E
On Saturday after a hearty breakfast, we went on what was quite possibly the most beautiful hike we’ve ever been on. The hike starts at the Simmenfålle (1102 m), a 200 meter high waterfall that continues on to the Simme River. The path goes up until you reach the Siebenbrünnen (1405 m), seven springs fed from glacial meltwater with up to 2,800 liters of water per second flowing from the springs in summer. After admiring these falls, you continue up and up until you reach the Langermatte (1856 m) and its Alpine pastures. Finally, continue on to Iffigenalp (1584 m) where you can take a bus back to Lenk or take a detour and go see the Iffigenfall, a beautiful 300 meter high waterfall, where you can also catch a bus back to town. The hike takes about 3 1/2 hours.
The gorgeous Simmenfålle, where the hike begins.
The impressive Siebenbrünnen
That was a lot of climbing! But not done yet…
Finally, made it to the Langermatte! All downhill from here. 😉
Iffigenfall, then time for some R&R!
On Sunday, we took advantage of the free cable car and went up to Leiterli (1943 m) for more gorgeous views and a short hike where we even managed to buy some delicious Alpine cheese. So much mountain love that weekend!
Iffigenfall from a different vantage point
E A T
We had a great casual dinner the first night at Hirschen…fresh, tasty food with a build your own burger specialty. Our second night, we wanted a fancier dinner so we visited the five-star Lenkerhof to dine at their gourmet restaurant, Spettacolo. The restaurant is known for serving a big variety of small gourmet dishes and you can take as many courses as you would like. The food was good, but what was really stand out was the final cheese course…hello cheese buffet with a huge variety of cheeses (including lots of yummy local ones)! Good thing we did all that hiking! Before our fancy dinner, we stopped by Vinotake, the cute little wine bar in town. Their selection was very impressive for a tiny mountain village and prices were reasonable (for Switzerland of course).
M O R E
If we had more time, we would have visited a wellness facility either at Wallbach Bad or at the Lenkerhof, where they have a package for a discount on a spa entry combined with dinner. There just wasn’t enough time for everything, but now we have a reason to go back to this beautiful place…maybe in the winter!