Travel Review: The Cambrian in Adelboden, Switzerland
- Credit: Archant
We sped down the mountain on a scooter, my four-year old daughter holding tight onto the front, balancing in between my legs and shouting with delight. I hadn’t imagined we would have this much fun in Switzerland.
The Alps only usually get a look-in from Brits for winter holidays, but I wanted to see what they were like once the snow had melted.
I’m no stranger to ski resorts, having worked three seasons as a chalet girl, but I had only ever seen the slushy spring phase, so I was excited to see Switzerland in its full summer glory.
It was my first time venturing abroad with just my 10-year-old twin sons and four-year-old daughter and I was feeling a bit apprehensive – but from the very start it all passed like a breeze.
We left London City Airport, just a half-hour journey from our Hackney home, early one morning in a tiny plane, just three seats wide.
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Normally a nervous flier, I thought I was going to hate the experience, but to my surprise I remained calm, partly thanks to playing Tetris on the free iPads that SkyWork Airlines hands out.
It felt like no time at all before we were descending over Switzerland’s lush green hills and sparkling rivers, and the land’s restorative powers were already working their magic.
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Bern airport presents no long passport queues or treks to reach your baggage. After just a 10-metre walk through the tiny airport, we found Hans, our chauffeur.
He drove us straight to The Cambrian, the designer hotel in Adelboden where we would spend the next five nights, which is every bit as stunning, calming and rejuvenating as the scenery outside.
The Cambrian boasts such a pristine view across the valley to snow-capped mountains that it would be easy to spend all week revelling in its infinity pool.
However, with three children in tow I needed to get them out and active, so we spent glorious days basking in the bright sunshine and wandering around pastures listening to the tinkling of cowbells.
The hotel staff were very friendly. Thanks to Katarina we discovered the “Trottinet” scooters – I was amazed to find it was possible to ride one with a four-year-old.
What you do is buy a lift pass for the day, reasonably priced at about £10 for adults, and £7 for children, then when you get to the top of the mountain, you hire your scooters, again for about £10 and head on down. And then you can do it again. And again and again.
I felt uneasy with my daughter on my scooter. I gripped the brakes constantly, screaming to my sons to slow down as they raced on ahead past the pine trees and rushing river down into the village.
But once I felt a bit braver, we built up some speed and my daughter kept laughing and telling me how much she loved it. I was loving it too.
Another day, Katarina recommended we take the 20-minute bus ride to the spectacular Engstligen waterfall, which we could see in the distance at the opposite end of the valley.
In spring, some 350 cows are driven up the treacherous path to graze in summer pastures in what is called the Alpaufzug.
I felt a little reluctant to take the precarious-looking cable car, which reminded me of something from a Seventies Bond movie, with no pylons supporting the cables stretching up 2,000 feet.
But at the top we found an idyllic pastoral scene, as cattle and goats roamed freely around.
Despite a frisky young calf nearly head-butting my son, the children delighted in making friends with the animals, and we took off our shoes to paddle in the icy cold streams.
Every afternoon we made the most of The Cambrian’s stylish indoor pool, making sure we got in a couple of hours swim before it shut to children at 4.30pm.
If you book 24 hours in advance, the hotel can arrange a babysitter. One afternoon I made the most of this to indulge in my love of Alpine spas – the one at the Adelboden has won awards and it’s easy to see why.
In fact, everything about the hotel is out of this world.
Its Welsh owners have done an impressive job of turning the historic building into a sleek boutique hotel adorned with modern art.
Our open-plan loft-style family room was a dream to hang out in, finished in stylish walnut furnishings and a quirky cowskin cube.
The double bed was in the lounge area and two singles could be reached up a flight of stairs to a mezzanine.
Food was top notch too, with the hotel’s chefs cooking “new Alpine” cuisine.
Putting a new spin on mountain classics, they use the finest seasonal ingredients sourced from within a few miles of Adelboden, such as perch from Frutigen, the next town down the valley, or duck from Challans.
We only spent five nights at the Cambrian but reaped the benefits of recharging many more times over, and relished every moment.
With London City and Bern within easy reach, the five-hour door-to-door trip is plain sailing, so Adelboden would make the perfect romantic weekend escape.
For us, it was every bit a flash family holiday, and whenever I think back to the picture-perfect view over Adelboden from The Cambrian, I’m filled with a sense of awe.
Who needs beach holidays when you can have such fun in the mountains?