This was my third year skiing, and my third trip to Wengen. It’s where we go for our annual family ski holiday, which is one reason for the repetition, another is that the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland is so beautiful, you'll instantly fall in love.
Previously we've stayed in The Regina, a grand hotel that overlooks the town. However, this year we stayed in Chalet Aquila (https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/17633240 ) which had everything we needed, including a cosy log fire. On the journey over, which is a flight to Geneva followed by 4 trains up towards the centre of Switzerland, I felt a little apprehensive about our choice of accommodation as it had partly been my idea. My biggest worry was that there may be limited options in the small shop and we’d have to eat out most nights. This may not sound like the end of the world, but as the lunches are so carb and cheese heavy, having a little more control over your vegetable intake in the evenings is a nice way to stay balanced (and save a lot of money).
As we arrived at the station, which is central to the village, we continued up quite a long steep hill towards the chalet. It was clean and tidy, with a nice homely feel to it and soft cosy beds. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to the shops that evening as it closes at 6.30pm every night, but decided instead to go for a pizza at Da Sina Pizzeria (http://www.dasina.ch/en/about-us.html ), at the end of the main street. We had a drink in the Sina Pub next door while we waited for a table, it was tiny but had a great atmosphere and we were all happy to end our long days travelling with a beer. The pizza was good and they had a lot to choose from, it was ideal.
I’d been reasonably organised before we left and had made granola to have for breakfasts, as well as a batch of marmalade (which turned out to be slightly over ambitious, but I didn’t want to miss blood orange season), and brought both with us along with emergency coffee, pasta and a jar of pesto – just in case. We went down to the shops in the morning and brought bananas, berries, croissants and yogurt for breakfast, they had a great fruit and veg selection so I was already thinking ahead to dinner. Having a nice bowl of fruit, granola and yogurt followed by a croissant was the perfect start to our first day skiing, a lot more relaxed than previous hotel breakfast buffets.
I started skiing in Wengen as a beginner, and since then we have always started our ski trips with a couple of lessons to help get back into the swing of things and work on our technique. We use Privat (http://snowpro.ch/home/ ), a private ski school that’s run by Pierre, and 2 other full time instructors Charlie and Wallo (who doubles as the towns electrician in the summer months). The instructors are experienced, knowledgeable of the area and have a few funny stories to share – I would definitely recommend them if you’re looking to take lessons.
Everything we needed for skiing (that we didn't already have) we got from Central Sport. They have so many options and are happy to make sure your boots fit well. If you want to change anything at any time, you can do at any of their shops which is really handy. You can also hire Sleds for the sled runs, which I hadn't tried before (because I was a bit terrified), but this year we had a go. It was icy and bumpy and quite possibly one of the scariest moments of my life. You went so fast and I had no way of stopping. If you want to try it, maybe wait for fresh, heavy snow fall to soften your landing. It's also very beautiful and peaceful when you do (involuntarily) stop.
For lunch on the first day we ate at Berghaus Männlichen (http://www.berghaus-maennlichen.ch ), which is at the top of the gondola that you take from Wengen. The main reason for this was someone in our group wasn’t skiing, so it was a great option as she didn’t know the area at all. There are a few mountain restaurants to choose from, and they tend to have quite similar menus, fairly traditional, and good hearty meals. The best bet you can always count on is choosing a Rösti – grated potato baked with cheese, bacon, and often served with an egg on top. So delicious, and always hits the spot after working up an appetite on the slops! I always get a smaller portion and a side salad so there’s SOME greenery, and all dishes are often served with random pieces of fruit – pineapple, orange segments, strawberries, which adds a strange but nice touch.
That evening we picked up some groceries on our way back to the chalet. I roasted chicken thighs with rosemary, potatoes and sprouts, boiled some broccoli and stir fried green beans with garlic and salt. It felt so lovely to have dinner in the chalet with a good bottle of red wine, followed by a little glass of Baileys by the fire before bed.
We did a little planning for meals the rest of the week but generally waited to see what we felt like each day. The rest of our week looked like this:
Restaurant Eigernordwand (Kleine Scheidegg): The real hash brown (basically a Rösti)
Après Ski: Just off the blue run down to Wengen, you can sit in deck chairs or bean bags on a sunny day with an incredible view across the valley.
Hotel Regina: Roast Rib of Beef, Mushrooms, mashed potatoes with butter, maple roasted root vegetables
Hotel Regina is a nice place to go for a slightly fancier dinner, it is on the pricey side, and has recently started serving sushi and steak but don’t let that put you off as they still offer local meats and hearty meals that are delicious.
Marys Café: Potato soup and Warm Goats cheese salad
Ate in the Chalet: Tomato, Avocado & mozzarella (we had a late lunch)
Every year we go to Marys Café, a small cosy restaurant just off the Lauberhorn black run, you can also get there on a blue or by walking 20 minutes up from Wengen. As well as serving the world’s most delicious Tartiflette, the restaurant is traditional and warming. You can have a drink outside before lunch, overlooking the slopes and mountains with the addition of chickens tottering around in the farm next door. The chairs are lined with woolly sheep skins, and you can take off your gloves and boots and leave them to warm by the log fire whilst you eat. Ariane, the owner (also owner of The Regina Hotel), gives a warm welcome and everyone there is very attentive, just another thing making it one of the best spots on the mountain.
Unfortunately we arrived fairly late, so there were no tart te flets left – quite possibly the most devastating thing to ever happen. However, I had the warm goats cheese salad and potato soup, which were both good but nothing in comparison to our usual. We booked a table for Thursday and pre-ordered 7 Tartiflettes…they thought we were crazy, but there was no way we could leave Wengen without having it.
James Bond Restaurant: Brunch Buffet 33CHF including prosecco
Ate in the Chalet: Tora’s Tartiflette (Find the recipe here)
As the weather was forecast to be cloudy, we decided to head across to Murren for the first time, and make our way up to the revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria, that featured in one of the James Bond films (Her Majesties Royal Service) (https://schilthorn.ch/en/Welcome ). They have a webcam up there (https://schilthorn.ch/en/Infos/Live#livecam ) so we checked to see if it was clear, and the sun was shining brightly. We hoped to ski, so took everything with us, but it was a whiter than white on the slopes and being unfamiliar with the runs and lifts made it quite difficult, we probably shouldn’t have taken our skies. Another problem we encountered was getting to the restaurant on time, it was very busy and a lot of the lifts we very slow so a lot of the day was spent queuing. However, it was worth it when we got to the top. The Brunch buffet at the restaurant was amazing, and the view over the mountain tops took our breath away. If I were to go back I’d try and go early in the morning when it’s less busy, and if planning to ski, we’d dedicate the day to that as getting up to the very top as well as getting some good runs in is a lot for one day and you don’t want to rush.
In the absence of Tartiflette at Marys café, Tora made us her version (she used to live in Grenoble), which cured our craving and was so delicious. I’ll make sure I get the recipe and recreate I so I can share it with you.
Eigernordwand Restaurant: The real Hash Brown
Pre-Dinner Drinks: Eiger Wine Bar in Wengen (Just by the station in Wengen)
Ate in the Chalet: Sarah prawn pasta
Having stayed at the Regina previously we hadn’t explored many other options in Wengen for pre-dinner drinks. It can be quite difficult once you come off the slopes and relax to then head out again into the cold, but we’d wanted to try out this candlelit wine bar so ventured down to see what it was like. Its quite small inside, but there was space to stand at the bar until a table became available. We had some cocktails and wine and both were really good (especially the cocktails, which was unexpected in such a small, remote town). Before we left another table had ordered food, as far as we could see it was Pasta dishes all round, it looks and smells amazing, this is definitely on our dinner list for next time!
Marys café: Tartiflette
Pre-Dinner Drinks: The Regina Wine Bar
Ate in the Chalet: Stew
Another great wine bar is in the cellar of The Regina. They have a great variety of wines by the bottle and a couple of wines by the glass that you can try. I’ve never been when it’s been busy, which is shame as I think with a few tables in there the atmosphere would be amazing, however it makes a great backup plan if it’s busy elsewhere or you prefer a quiet spot.
I can't not tell you about another of our favourite spots. I didn't include it above as I would have reapeated myself too much (as we went every day). The Tipi Bar at Kleine Scheidegg is such a great spot for a morning or afternoon rum hot chocolate. They play cheesy Euro-pop music and it has a great atmosphere at almost any time of the day. On a sunny day they open the side up, so it's fun whatever the weather!
I hope some of this has been helpful, it’s such a beautiful place and despite being relatively small there is still so much I want to do and see. It doesn’t have the après ski atmosphere that some of the other bigger resorts have, but there’s definitely is something for everyone, and I highly recommend it!