top of page
  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Giessbach Falls at the Grandhotel Giessbach

Decided to hike around the Giessbach Falls and have lunch at the Grandhotel Giessbach so we boarded the Lötschberg steamboat which is docked near the Interlaken Ost train station.

Our friend Tanja's great-grandfather was captain on the Lötschberg.

"Built by Escher-Wyss, Zurich

Length : 185.5 ft (55.6 metes) (overall), 175.5 ft (53.5 m) at the waterline : Breadth : 6.8 m (12.94 m overall) : Draught: 1.17 m (empty) - 1.40 m (loaded)

Machinery - Compound diagonal : Cylinders - 550 and 950 mm x 1050 mm : 450 HP : Boilers - 2 x max 11.5 atmospheres pressure

Paddles - 9 steel floats of 230 x 66 mm : Paddle wheel - 3.51 m diameter

Maximum speed - 16 m/h (26 km/

Entered service in 1914 (In revenue operation from July 25th)

Served only 9 days before the outbreak of World War I brought the season to a close

Returned to service only for the 1923 season.

Converted from coal to oil firing in 1967/68.

Major renovations - 1988/89 and 2000/01

During 2000/01 the original boilers were replaced by a single new boiler

The opportunity was taken to restore many of the original features and "feel" of the ship

Her original dark green / light green color scheme was also restored."

First stop was Bönigen. Tanja, her grandparents, Syrena and Manuel live in this village.

We crisscrossed Lake Brienze until we arrived at Giessbach landing. The hotel even has its own stop.

First class

Everything is polished and oh so shiny.

Oil pans

The paddle wheels turning in the water.

Coming into Giessbach landing.

From the boat dock we took the funicular, the oldest in Europe, up to the hotel and the falls. Despite undergoing a number of technical updates, the funicular railway still radiates the same nostalgic charm and romance it did way back in 1879.

The funicular climbs 305 ft ( 93m) along the 1,131 ft (345 m) track from the hotel’s own landing stage (Giessbach See) to the enchanting Grand Hotel overlooking Lake Brienz. The four-minute journey takes you through the forest, over bridges and alongside waterfalls.

We shared our compartment with a furry friend, too.

One funicular comes down and another goes up!

This is how Erika Maria Zwicker decribes the Grandhotel Giessbach, the fauna and flora, and the waterfall.

"Welcome to the Grandhotel Giessbach. A hotel with history, a place of strength and tranquility. Take a deep breath, enjoy and relax. Building culture, nature and space for the eyes and the mind, enjoyment for the body and the soul. A gift from nature and time that outlasts many things and an aura of immortality has developed in this “happy place of joy” .

"Our herb garden, rare hydrangea varieties in the shadow of the hotel, ProSpecieRara vegetables and fruits, beehives that provide the honey for the delicious breakfast: a refined biosphere and a diverse flora and fauna in the vicinity give unforgettable moments. We live according to the motto “from the garden to the dining table”: Most of the products that we use in our restaurants come directly from our own cultivation."

We sat upstairs; the end table to the left.

View from our table overlooking Lake Brienz.

We had the corner table.

Started with the Giessbach salad bowl: a variety of lettuces, shaved slices of cucumbers, yellow squash, radishes, carrots and cheese . There were pine nuts, sunflower seeds and croutons . The salad was topped with cress. The dressing was a marinated house dressing. Delicious and so fresh!!!!! Vegetables were from the garden.

Variety of breads: white and dinkel with and without nuts.

For the main course we both had the fillet of trout from the Rubigenhof with melted almond herb butter, young potatoes and spinach.

The trout was served crispy side up.

The meat of the trout flaked. The potatoes were crispy. Spinach was grown in their garden. Yummy!!!!!

View out the front door looking out at the Lake Brienz.

"Today, as it was a hundred years ago, the historic hotel residence at the Giessbach Falls high above Lake Brienz is a world of its own. Surrounded by mountains, forests and alpine meadows, with a breathtaking view of the Lake Brienz landscape, this oasis is far away from stress, everyday life and traffic.

The Grandhotel Giessbach dates from 1873 and is located in a picturesque setting between the mountains and Lake Brienz. The journey by ship and the 140-year-old funicular is truly unique. The exemplary rescue from the demolition by the foundation established by the environmentalist Franz Weber and the gentle renovation of the original structure make the stay at the Grand Hotel a true journey through time.

Thanks to the Brienz teacher Johannes Kehrli, the Giessbach became known as early as 1800. At that time, many visitors had the famous boatmen from Brienz row them to the waterfalls. The waterfalls have been illuminated in the evening since 1840, and the first hotel was built in 1857. With the purchase of the property in 1870 by the well-known Hauser family, the great heyday of the Giessbach began: According to the plans of the architect Horace Edouard Davinet (1839-1922), a grand hotel with its own gas works, a large laundry, and several was built on an artificially created terrace Bathroom cabinets, numerous water closets and a covered walkway in the "foresto-rustico-style". In 1879, the Hauser brothers opened their own cable car from the boat station to the hotel for better accessibility.A major fire in 1883 changed the appearance: the domes from 1875 were replaced by slender pointed helmets and facade decorations in Swiss wood style. When it reopened in July 1884, the first electric lamps shone in the new Hotel Giessbach. After several changes of ownership in the 20th century, the hotel closed its doors in 1979 to make way for a contemporary chalet apartment block. A working group led by the President of the Bern Citizens' Council, Rudolf von Fischer, campaigned for the preservation of the traditional hotel building with its unique park and found the well-known environmentalist Franz Weber at the last minute. He founded the Giessbach Foundation for the Swiss people and brought together the three million necessary for a rescue with an unprecedented rescue campaign.In 1983 the foundation acquired the Giessbach property and in the following year the reopening of the hotel, which was restored with the help of monument preservation, was celebrated. Since then, the cable car has also been renovated, but as Switzerland's oldest cable car it is still largely in its original condition. In 2004 Icomos awarded the Grandhotel Giessbach the well-deserved title of Historic Hotel of the Year. In the same year the hotel was one of the founding members of Swiss Historic Hotels. (RF)"

Inside the entrance to the hotel. Ornate furnishings. Quite elegant and sophisticated!!

There must have been some fancy parties, years ago.

We had to wait a few minutes for a table.

"The Giessbach waterfall: raging, rustling, splashing, lively and different every day. Illuminated at night, mystical during the day, it forms the heart and source of power in our surroundings. Walking under it, feeling and breathing in the power of the waterfall is an incomparable experience of nature."

The cascading waterfalls above can be reached on foot. There is even a path that runs behind the water, so you don’t get wet.

Which way to go! Just follow the signs.

Loved walking through the woods. Peaceful - serene - tranquil The only sound other than rushing water was the sound of a few F-16s taking off from the Air Force base in Meiringen.

What magical creatures live in the holes among the moss? Look closely, you may see a face or two.

What are the chances we would catch the same boat again? Should have played the lottery tonight.

We continued our journey from Giessbach to Brienz.

The Lötschberg will now head back to Interlaken for the night.

Alpen horn players entertained people while they waited to board the Lötschberg.

We took the train back to Interlaken. Another wonderful day comes to a close in the Berner Oberland!

28 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page