My wife and I spent time seeking a winter hotel location in Switzerland for high level snow walking in the mountains. Our parameters were that we wanted good walking from our base and those walks should not be shared with skiers. Add to that our search for a comfortable and warm hotel without being a Health Spa or too flush with star ratings. The Hotel Meisser at Guarda in the Higher Engadine ticked all the right boxes and our visit was arranged by Inn Travel who have used this hotel as a walking base for many years.
The village is at a height of about 5,000 feet and the railway station is some 500 feet lower down some hairpins, but is served by regular post buses directly from the village. Guarda is steeped in history and is preserved as a village of historic interest in which Hotel Meisser plays a significant part. The hotel is on two floors and the annex across the road on three floors. No two rooms are identical and in total there are about 24 letting rooms which means the hotel retains an intimate feel.
The biggest plus is the Meisser team so ably led by genial hosts Benno and Meya Meisser whose family have run the hotel over many generations. They are very hands-on and the staff, without exception, are clearly happy in their work and enjoy meeting guests. The chef is extremely talented and the fine dining experience is a cherished memory of our stay. Locally produced meats are often smoked on the premises and dinner is served in the large dining room with reserved tables and silver service.
This report is probably of limited value because firstly the snow experience really only applies during the period from December to February when there is good snow and prepared pistes, one running from the door of the hotel. The hotel base is on a sunny terrace and often our village was in sunshine when the valley below was dark. High mountains surround the valley.
The other significant happening is that as from February 2014 the hotel is closed whilst the roof space is converted into extra accommodation and the exiting first floor bedrooms are being gutted and refurbished. The cost of the work is massive and Benno took time to show us the layout of the new rooms and his plans for upgrading. All the work is being carried out by skilled craftsmen working within the framework of this lovely old building which was at one time a farmhouse.
We stayed in the annex across the road and judging by the standard of finish we have no doubt that the entire project will be well managed and totally in keeping with the building's history, amply covering the needs of guests with rooms and suites of various sizes.
This is a three star hotel and we hope that despite the enhancements it stays that way to reflect the easy and relaxed atmosphere of a mountain hotel where guests feel comfortable with the friendly informality of welcome and being part of the host family for a few days.
The dinners are certainly worth 4 stars, the annex is up to that standard too and perhaps the new accommodation might tempt 4 stars but the hotel doesn't have a lift, nor a swimming pool or health suite and the lounge can really only accommodate half the guests at any one time. This could be a blessing for those people who love it as it is. We are in that category.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Guarda, a cluster of very old intricately painted farmhouses with flowers at every window, nestles on a mountain shelf high above the Engadine Valley - one of the most picturesque hideaways in Switzerland. Happily, there is a gem of a hotel to match the perfection of the village. The Hotel Meisser is beautifully situated on a promontory overlooking the expanse of green valley below, with a terrace where guests can enjoy refreshments an fine food. The hotel, a typical Engadine farmhouse, dates back to the 17th century. Throughout the hotel there is an old-world ambiance achieved through the use of antique chests, pieces of old copper, oil paintings, and baskets of fresh flowers everywhere. The main house offers simple accommodation in rooms with shower or bath, and tree rooms afford memorable views an enjoy their own balconies. ... more less
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