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November 30, 2022

Kempinski Palace Engelberg: Serenity in Switzerland

Nestled in the Engelberg Valley, this Kempinski hotel brings a new level of luxury to the Swiss Alps.

By Toby Louch

Standing boldly in the center of the quaint village of Engelberg with its stunning facade oozing with Belle Époque decadence, the Kempinski Palace Engelberg is a true Swiss gem.

Engelberg itself is a sight to behold. Just a short drive from the bustling streets of Zurich, heading up into the valley feels like turning back time. Period cottages adorn striking snow-capped mountains. Your commute is soundtracked by the unmistakable chime of cow bells.

Constructed during the late 19th century, famed hotelier Eduard Cattani enlisted the help of his brother Arnold Cattani, a successful architect, for its design. First opening its doors in 1904 the Grandhotel Winterhaus — as it was then known — was always built to impress. A grand ballroom, turrets, and central heating: the cornerstones of 19th-century opulence.  

Look out for the mosaic tile floor in the entrance hall / ©Kempinski

The original building has since been extended dramatically, not that you would realize, as period turns to brand new without the faintest tell. Yet the hotel effortlessly pays homage to its past. Stylish illustrations based on early 20th-century postcards decorate the hallways.

[See also: A Luxury Travel Guide to Chicago, the Most Beautiful Great City]

Look out for the mosaic tile floor in the entrance hall — it’s original from 1904 and was discovered after the carpet was removed during the renovation.

Now owned by Kempinski — the renowned luxury hotel company — which this year celebrates its 125th anniversary. Kempinski Palace Engelberg remains the valley’s only five-star escape, the ultimate retreat for anyone looking for a uniquely Swiss experience with a side of luxury.

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The Titlis suite at Kempinski Palace Engelberg / ©Kempinski

Stay

Kempinski Palace Engelberg’s imposing size means it boasts 129 beautifully bright rooms and suites. A great benefit of being nestled within the Engelberg Valley is the hotel is completely surrounded by 360° mountain vistas — every room comes with its own picture-perfect view.

Those who desire the best should look straight to both the Park and Belle Époque suites. Both impressive in size, these suites come with some added touches to complete your experience. Those who love gazing at the stars will delight in the functioning golden telescopes.

Those who love gazing at the stars will delight in the functioning golden telescopes / ©Kempinski

Although smaller in size, the rooms are still very impressive. The Belle Époque rooms put the beauty in belle by making use of the building’s turreted corners to give the rooms a circular layout as if straight from a fairy tale. The rooms and suites are filled with delightfully comfortable contemporary furniture that’s ideal after a long day in the mountains.

As the day draws to a close you will relish drifting off in the incredible box-spring beds from handmade Swiss manufacturer Elite. There’s no better way to end a day in the Swiss Alps and the mountain air will ensure you have the best sleep of your life.

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The Cattani Restaurant during the summer months / ©Kempinski

Dine

When it comes to dining experiences, the Kempinski Palace Engelberg does not disappoint with potential options to suit all wants and needs. The main restaurant “The Cattani Restaurant” — named after the aforementioned original hotelier at the Kempinski Palace — serves exquisite European-style food that comes infused with the local culture.

In the evening, guests staying at the hotel as well as those simply coming to dine may tuck into dishes such as Pike-perch from Lago Maggiore with roasted cauliflower puree, chili-garlic butter sauce or perhaps Duck breast from Appenzell glazed with forest honey, chokeberry sauce and potatoes smoked on pine cones.

[See more: Le Clarence: Modern Cuisine in a Classical Setting]

Executive Chef Michéle Müller leads a restaurant team that is inspired by the farm-to-table concept. The vast majority of ingredients served are from the local area, the cheese and butter come from the surrounding alpine farms while the lamb arrives in Engelberg from the Lucerne hinterland. The end product is wonderful seasonal dishes, made from fresh local ingredients. Engelberg is surrounded by some of the best produce in the world and the Kempinski makes use of it.

The Palace Bar evokes the style and glam of the 1920s ©Kempinski
Chalet Ruinart serves hearty Swiss fondu, raclette and champagne / ©Kempinski

During the warm summer weather, guests can dine on the stunning outside terrace. While in the cold winter months, guests will love Chalet Ruinart, which serves hearty Swiss fondu, raclette and champagne in the cozy fur-filled confines of a traditional Swiss Chalet.

After dinner the night continues: The Palace Bar evokes the style and glam of the 1920s while the Habanos Cigar Lounge is the perfect place to enjoy a whisky or cognac with a cigar and finish your evening.

Vast windows allow guests to appreciate their surroundings while they relax / ©Kempinski

Relax

One of Kempinski Palace Engelberg’s most impressive features is its spa which is truly one of the finest in the Swiss Alps. Taking inspiration from the mountains that surround the hotel, the spa occupies the top floor and utilizes vast windows that allow guests to appreciate their surroundings while they relax.

The large infinity pool which runs beside these windows creates an almost surreal experience, while a mixture of hanging egg chairs and sun loungers ensures you are never short of space to lounge.

The main pool area at Kempinski Palace Engelberg / ©Kempinski

In addition to the enchanting pool area, the Kempinski also boasts a fully equipped spa facility that offers all the treatments that one would expect from a hotel of this caliber. Perhaps you need a massage after a long day hiking in the mountains or maybe a bespoke facial to top off your day of relaxation.

Those looking to ease their muscles, improve their skin and boost their immune system should look no further than the impressive sauna facilities. There is something for everyone here with a bio sauna and vitarium which infuse the air with aromas and herbs while you relax, in addition to an impressive steam room and Finnish sauna for those who like it hot. The Finnish sauna even has a large glass window providing an impressive mountain view.

Melchsee lake during sunset at Melchsee-Frutt / ©Toby Louch

Explore

The Swiss Alps is one of the most visually stunning locations on Earth. Jaw-dropping mountains with snowcapped peaks surround crystal blue lakes. These incredible locations change throughout the year, with each season offering its own unique perspective and way to experience the Alps. This makes Switzerland one of the world’s best year-round destinations.

A short drive from the Engelberg valley is Melchsee-Frutt, a mountain village that visitors access via a gondola. The 20-minute cable ride takes you up to 3,500 ft allowing you to experience the Alps in all their glory. The village lies next to lake Melchsee providing wonderful hiking and fishing opportunities throughout the summer months. During the winter the lake freezes over and the village transforms into a ski resort with four chairlifts that access the peaks of Erzegg, Balmeregg and Bonistock.

[See more: Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo: A Sustainable Success]

Further down the mountain, visitors looking for a little more exhilaration should try Seilpark Melchsee-Frutt, an outdoor obstacle course situated in the canopy of a forest. Unleash your inner Tarzan as use fly between the trees on ziplines.

Titlis mountain has over 50 miles of ski runs / ©Engelberg-Titlis Tourismus Company

Back in the village of Engelberg, the Kempinski Palace is the ideal accommodation for a ski trip. Engelberg has easy access to two separate ski resorts which provide ample opportunities for skiers of all levels.

Brunni is the smaller mountain at 6,100 ft and its runs are mostly at the beginner and intermediate level. It’s also south facing making it the perfect spot to catch some afternoon rays. Titlis is the larger of the two resorts and is the highest peak in the area. The Titlis Xpress gondola will quickly shoot you up to 7,960 ft and is immediately followed by the “Rotair” cable car, the world’s first rotating cable car. At the top, you will stand at 9,900 ft with the entire mountain below you, over 50 miles of runs will provide endless entertainment for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities.

Rooms from $530 per night. Contact kempinskipalaceengelberg.com, +41 41 639 7575, info.engelberg@kempinski.com

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