Sleek, modern, and situated at the snowy heart of the Swiss Alps, The Cambrian hotel is the perfect place for keen skiers and Alpine adventures to rest their heads – or to bask their way to bliss in the soul-soothing terrace hydrotherapy pool. With awe-inducing mountain views in every direction, you’re guaranteed holiday snaps that your friends will actually want to see.
Mind-blowing Alpine panoramas
Fantastic spa with heated outdoor pool
The ideal base for skiers, snowboarders and hikers
A bottle of wine in your room
In the know
Also need to know:
You can bring pets for CHF45 a night. Smoking is allowed in the bar. Parking outisde the hotel is CHF20 a night in winter (CHF25 in the underground car park) and CHF10 (CHF15) in summer.The sleek, black-tiled spa comes with a Finnish sauna, steam room, relaxation room, and a wide-ranging menu of enticing therapies, including Sodashi facials for men and women, full-body treatments, massages and hair and nail care.
You’ll be kicking yourself if you forget swimwear – the spa pools are one of the hotel’s real highlights. Ski passes, sledges, and Nordic walking canes are all available from reception.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
'The hotel manager deserves a lemon for his efforts!' No, we're not sure what that means either. Mrs Smith and I have been thumbing through the book of insider hotel anecdotes that has been left in our suite at the Cambrian, reading some of the bawdier passages to each another and giggling like schoolkids. The little hardback is packed with risqué vignettes about life in the hotel trade – made all the more amusing by the fact that it's been translated from German to English apparently via some obscure Latvian dialect and/or the medium of dance. We immediately set about deciding whether or not our hotel is lemon-worthy, and come to the conclusion that, in our own citrus-based awards ceremony, the Cambrian would be going home with a grapefruit too.
Our room – 503, a Junior Suite South – is decorated with a soothing medley of snowy whites, warming browns and rock-face greys that, though it won’t wow the design world, perfectly suits the Alpine surroundings. There's a huge bed, with a button-back headboard in cream, cow-print footstools artfully dotted about, and a cosy lounge area with Toblerone-tone sofas and armchairs. The widescreen TV swivels handily to face bed or living area, and flinging open the doors to the balcony, we're met with a craggy panorama of snow-laden mountains, plunging passes and a zigzag of cable cars high above the dense fir forest. It's sublime.
This kind of warm, homely comfort coupled with the mind-blowing Alpine spectacle is exactly what we needed after our three-hour journey from Zurich. Both of us had been dreading the triple train-change and bus ride in the thick apocalyptic blizzard (we'd forgotten that Britain's own blend of freezing slush is a far cry from the heavy-set flakes of Switzerland), but we were delightfully surprised by the ease of the trip. This review is obviously not the place to meditate on the joys of the Swiss transport infrastructure, so let it just be said that anyone who isn't excited by spotless double-decker trains has never taken the London Overground from Hackney Central.
Adelboden is as remote as it gets; a tiny chalet town perched on the mountainside in the depths of the Bernese Oberland, the kind of place where, in winter, snow-chains are as commonplace on cars as windscreen wipers. Fortunately, the Cambrian hotel is barely a minute's walk – or shuffle, if you arrive in conditions like we did – from the bus station. It's such a snowy wonderland in winter than the townspeople have even invented their own form of ice-bound transport. As we wound our way up the hill from Frütigen (gawpable views abounding), we spotted children dragging what appeared to be a combination of a ski and a wooden workbench. This, we later learn, is a 'skibock', a sort of halfway house between skiing and sledging, and it's been unique to the region for over a century. We have enough trouble walking in the snow, let alone plummeting down the mountainside on, as Mrs S puts it, 'a blatant death trap', so we decide to leave skibocking to the locals.
Although winter sports are very much Adelboden's raison d'être – there are more than 185km of velvety piste in the valley – it's not the superb skiing on offer that's got our hearts aflutter. From our vantage point on the balcony, we've got a bird's-eye view of the hotel's outdoor spa pool, and it looks irresistibly inviting...
So it proves. 20 minutes later and we've made our way down into the spa – a chic underground wellness centre that offers countless ways of squirting pressurised water at yourself. We colonise a pair of the wicker loungers beside the indoor pool, admire the full-wall water feature, and laugh our heads off as a swimwear-clad German couple attempting a post-sauna snow bath accidentally lock themselves outside in the freezing blizzard. Ah, the sweet smell of schadenfreude.
Having rescued the shivering pair, I have a nosey around the sauna and steam room (sexily decked out in black marble mosaic), Mrs Smith pops off to the loo – and comes back having had a facial. 'The staff were so nice, I felt I ought to,' she announces.
We could quite easily spend our weekend contentedly bubbling away in the spa pool while the snowflakes dance around us – and we very nearly do – but we couldn't stay in the one of the world's winter-sport capitals without at least getting an inkling what a ski slope actually looks like, so we take the two-minute walk to the nearest cable car station and make the terrifying ascent over the forest canopy to the nearest peak-top cabin. The views from the apex are enough to make me reconsider ski school, but Mrs Smith has other, cheese-related ideas. Two hours and a dishful of satisfyingly bloaty raclette later, we go back down again.
Next on our outdoorsy agenda is a hike to Engstligenalp, site of reputedly the most impressive waterfall in the region. ‘Just 20 minutes’ walk straight down there,’ the waiter had told us at breakfast, pointing along the valley floor. What he did there was make the mistaken assumption that either of us possessed anything more than the most 'experimental' sense of direction, and wouldn't veer off up a mountain for no good reason other than, as Sir Edmund said, because it was there. After three wet hours and four threats of divorce, we're back in the spa pool. 'Let us never mention today again,' Mrs Smith declares.
A warming Italian meal in the restaurant soon sets any incipient frostbite/marital break-up at bay, however, and we retire to our room convinced that although our weekend may have taught us that the great white outdoors is not our natural habitat, luckily for us, the Cambrian certainly is. Someone give the manager a lemon.
Dorfstrasse 7, Adelboden, Bern, 3715
0.5 mi / 0.9 km from city centre
- Valet parking
- Internet services
- On-Site parking
- Room service
- Onsite laundry
Italian eatery Nova is a smart, clean-lined space that combines warm red walls with mahogany furniture and cream-coloured chairs. Cuisine is classically Northern Italian, with carpaccio, pasta with rabbit ragouts and saltimbocca typically appearing on the seasonal menu. The wine selection – on display in a long glass cabinet – is excellent. There’s no lunch served in the hotel, but light snacks are available in the lobby. Breakfast is served until a leisurely 11am.
The tables by the windo close to the middle of the room have excellent views of the Alps – and other guests bubbling away in the Jacuzzi pool on the terrace.
The chef hangs up his apron at 9.30pm, but you can get a drink in the bar until the early hours.
There’s a 24-hour menu of drinks and light meals.
Scott’s Bar is the ideal venue for post-slope topes, with a stylish bubble-glass bar illuminated in an icy blue hue, Swiss beer on tap, and a fine cocktail menu. It’s open from 5pm every day.
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