Where to sleep under the stars in Switzerland
The pandemic has caused considerable introspection in the luxury hospitality industry. A report from this year suggested that while concerns about social distancing remained, smart money was about offering distinctive stays in unique locations to fewer guests.
After conducting my own informal study of distinctive stays in unique places in Switzerland, I discovered a flaw in this pattern. As unique as the location is, the view from a luxury hotel is only as impressive as its large windows.
The solution is obvious. Get rid of the walls.
That’s pretty much the thought behind Million Stars Hotel. Relaunched this summer (the international launch fell last year due to travel restrictions), the Swiss national tourism project lists around fifty more or less sophisticated stays: from luxury suites on the roofs of town halls to beds in open air next to mountain inns, from the geodesic glass of the domes to the mattresses of the hay carts.
What all of them share is their direct view of the night sky. The goal, according to the organizers, is to foster closer links with the outdoors. Considering the appeal outside Switzerland, this seems quite reasonable.
After the cabin fever in the spring and then a dismal summer when Great Britain seemed locked in a Tupperware container, I booked two stays in the south of the canton of Valais, a region popular with Swiss holidaymakers. This is the other reason I liked the sound of the Million Stars Hotel – it highlights areas beyond hot spots such as Interlaken and St Moritz.
The ascent of Mörel by cable car gives a glimpse of what we are missing. Riederalp is a roadless village made up of the kind of chalets you usually see on cuckoo clocks. A chairlift continues beyond to Hohfluh. The air cools, your ears crackle as you pass 2100 m, and then you feel a sharp pain when your jaw hits the ground. In front of the Aletsch Glacier.