Taking off to Lenkerhof
February 12, 2017
The five star superior Lenkerhof Hotel brands itself as a “gourmet spa resort”. This sets expectations for fine food, rejuvenating treatments and top class leisure and lifestyle activities. And indeed, upon arriving, guests will find this and so much more.
Nestled in the Simmental Valley in the famous Swiss Bernese Oberland, The Lenkerhof has been known and loved by guests as a wellness resort since 1689. In fact, the hotel was so appreciated that for hundreds of years guests would journey at least several days by horse and cart to reach the establishment, where they would unwind and enjoy its unique natural sulphur springs and spectacular environment. While the trip now from Geneva or Zürich is only a matter of a couple of hours, the grand mountains on the side of the valley still transport you worlds away to a natural wonderland.
Thanks to the oversight of Relais & Châteaux and the management couple Jan Stiller (Young Hotelier of the Year 2009) and Heike Schmidt, the hotel has now reached a level of luxury that is even exemplary by Swiss standards. Having enjoyed the hospitality for several days it became apparent that the hotel has struck the ideal balance of luxury hospitality: personal, unique, authentic and faultlessly professional – and all this without being pretentious.
Whichever season you choose to come in, a visit to Lenk is a health retreat, thanks to its spectacular walks and a ski field that is consistently ranked one of the top 3 in Switzerland.
The hotel itself is also uniquely placed, benefiting from a natural sulphur spring running underneath it. The sulphur water feeds into the hotel’s natural 34-degree pool and is also utilised by the renowned 7 Sources Spa for several treatments.
I had the good fortune of experiencing a treatment and I can attest to the attentiveness and professionalism of the staff and the exceptional quality of the products used throughout the session. I opted for the signature 90-minutes Lenker Stone and Mountain Crystal massage, which had several phases starting with a foot bath and progressing to a full body massage using Lenkerhof oils and warm river stones from the local river.
The spa also offers several more luxurious treatments, including a full day spa, Lomi Lomi massages and a wide range of body and beauty treatments.
The gastronomic offering at the hotel is truly an outstanding feature. Three restaurants are available for guests to enjoy: Oh De Vie (the Mediterranean restaurant), Spettacolo (the signature 16-point Gault & Millau restaurant) and Mountain Restaurant Bühlberg (situated at 1,664 metres above sea level and a short shuttle or sporty walk up the nearby mountain).
The two restaurants on premise allow guests to personalise their own menu from a range of generous tasting plates. Spettacolo, for example, run by Chef de cuisine Stefan Lünse and his 20-staff team offers 15 delicately prepared dishes every evening. And while the culinary style is inspired from all over around the world, many ingredients are sourced regionally, including a range of meat, milk, cheese, fruit and vegetables.
The meal I had at Spettacolo was certainly impressive and I would recommend this restaurant (and indeed the whole culinary offering at this hotel) without hesitation. The highlights of my meal included a glass of Brut champagne and homemade bread (including delicious corn and squid ink buns), an entrée of 60-degree egg with potato sauce and foie gras with hazelnut ice cream and a main of Dorado with risoni, saffron and cheese, accompanied with artichoke and served with a Pinot Gris from the widely acclaimed Valais vineyards in Switzerland.
At Oh De Vie, guests can also expect delicious cuisine. The plates that stood out included the burrata, the scallop with broccoli, mango, argan oil, tapioca and crayfish entrée, the arctic char with Lenk lamb and the handmade Swiss chocolates.
Other notable highlights of the culinary offering at The Lenkerhof included an indulgent breakfast buffet, authentic Swiss cuisine at the Mountain Restaurant Bühlberg, delicious local dairy products, a wide selection of wines (over 400) and the fact that due to the number of staff, there was a peaceful ambience, rather than the typically over-worked and under-staffed feeling that one usually gets even at the best restaurants in the world. On this note, I would like to particularly thank Christian Müller (Maître d’Hotel of the Year 2011) and Janina for their impeccable service during my stay.
ENJOYING THE PRIVATE SPACES
The rooms at the Lenkerhof are also designed to impress. The hotel has 10 suites, 34 junior and senior suites, 30 double rooms and 6 single rooms. This provides for a wide range of choice without the feeling of being crowded.
I would personally recommend the Suite Méditerranéen. Like the other suites, it is well equipped with a large lounge room, contemporary furniture, a spacious bedroom, a luxurious bathroom with St. Barth amenities, a fireplace, a Nespresso machine, fresh fruit and spectacular views of the mountains. But this suite is also situated closest to the river, which acted as a peaceful background soundtrack for the duration of my retreat.
THE EXTRA TOUCHES
The attention to detail and the level of service at the Lenkerhof is akin to some of the very best luxury hotels around the world. Considering the highly regarded individual awards that the manager and chef have received, and the level of the service during my stay, it certainly did not surprise me that this hotel won the Tripadvisor Travellers‘ Choice Award 2016 in the category “best romantic hotels” in Switzerland and is ranked the third best five-star hotel in the country (Trivago).
Like any of the top luxury hotels in the world, the Lenkerhof also has a few surprises in store for guests. While I will refrain from revealing the full extent of the offer, I can tease future guests by mentioning that the hotel offers wine tasting in its private cellar, a luxurious cigar lounge, daily events (including floral arrangement lessons), guided walks, subtle and alluring handmade aromas throughout the rooms and live music and dancing at the bar every evening except Monday.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Above all, it is fair to say that this hotel is a rare jewel in an exquisite mountain region in Switzerland. If you are a gastronomist, in need of a retreat, seek nature at its best, enjoy the finer things in life, or all of the above, you will have found your dream destination at The Lenkerhof.