When we first started planning our trip to Switzerland for a week, we booked a hotel for 4 nights in Lauterbrunnen.
We knew we wanted to see other places, but did not have any plans except for our last night where we used points to stay at the Hilton in Zurich near the airport. I finally found a web site which was a wealth of information on Switzerland called My Swiss Alps. Here I was able to read trip reports, ask questions and learn about the different areas to visit. In my research, I found a very detailed report for the Wengen area. It provided information about all the trails to hike, places to stay, and restaurants in the area. I quickly emailed this person with all my questions, and she convinced me to stay in a chalet in Wegen for our duration instead of moving, which turned out to be an excellent advice. She provided me with the name of the rental company Alpine Holiday Services, which I immediately contacted.
Because I did not finalize my plans until about 4 weeks out, we did not have much of a selection of chalets to rent. It was just the two of us, so we choose to go with a smaller place since we would not be spending much time in the chalet. The available rentals were either 100 CHF a night or 250 + CHF per night. I quickly canceled my hotel reservation in Lauterbrunnen. Renting a chalet in Wengen was much cheaper than staying in a hotel in Lauterbrunnen for four nights.
We chose to go with the 100 CHF a night, Chalet Viola. Even though the chalet was very small, it provided a kitchen with wonderful views of Jungfrau Mountain right outside our window. It was a perfect location, about a ten minute walk to the train station.
Basically the chalet was one room efficiency on the bottom floor, with everything very compact. Upon entering the first set of doors, there was an area to hang coats, or leave snow boats. To the left was a washer/dryer combination that we could use.
Opening the next door led you right inside the apartment with the living room, bedroom, kitchen all in one room, and a wall of windows letting in the afternoon sun.
The bed was located in a corner of the room, making it a challenge to get into as it was too high for me to climb. J had to pull me up on the bed, as I had difficulty getting in. (Hey I’m short.) We moved the tv out of the way so we would not knock into it getting in and out of bed. The wide window ledge became a storage area for our clothes during our stay.
This place was very minimalist in style. We found storage under the bed to store our suitcase but that was about it.
There were no drawers to put our clothes away, only one small closet to hang our coats and some shirts.
We ended up leaving our clothes spread out throughout the apartment in the compression bags on the floor, on the back of the chairs and on the couch as we had no where to put anything. I could not imagine more than two people staying here.
The kitchen was very compact, with very basic supplies to cook. We moved the table out in order to make more room to move around. We cooked spaghetti one evening, and discovered there was no dishwasher. We ended up doing dishes by hand and changed our way of eating, as neither one of us wanted to do dishes in this small cramped space. We started eating meals that did not require many dishes to wash, like yogurt, cheese, and bread as we found there was no microwave. We reminded ourselves that we were only there to sleep as we left between 6 and 7 in the morning and returned back around 6 at night. We ate our main meal while we were out during the day.
TIP: Check for modern conveniences before renting a chalet if this is important to you. Tap water is safe to drink.
The bathroom was small but adequate with a heated towel rack. We were given two sets of towels for the week as we had no service during our stay.
We used the small washer/dryer combo to wash our clothes but never did figure how to make the washer turn into a dryer. We laid our damp clothes around the apartment to dry overnight.
The chalet had free WiFi. It even worked when we sat outside at the table and chairs, enjoying the view with a glass of wine in the evenings.
We went to the Coop (grocery store) which was located near the train station nearly every day to get fresh fruits and breads. Food is VERY EXPENSIVE in Switzerland. Going out for lunch would average 50 CHF WITHOUT drinks. Dinner would run over 100 CHF. Even though the food was expensive in the grocery store compared to home, it was cheaper than eating out. We could get a bottle of wine for about 10 CHF at the grocery store, but having a glass of wine with dinner would cost between 8 – 10 CHF.
We knew it was going to be expensive before we went on the trip and worked around it. We did get tired of the type of food served in Switzerland and by the end of our trip all I really wanted was a hamburger. When you are paying 25 CHF for hash browns that might have cheese/tomatoes in it or sausage that was an expensive meal. We never got to try the fondue as it required both of us getting it (50 CHF) which I was disappointed, but J was not interested in just eating that for his meal, which I understood. I was glad we took cereal, nuts, and granola bars, as this came in handy for our week in Switzerland, especially during our hikes.
Keep in mind that if you rent a chalet, you are responsible for disposing of your trash before you leave. They provided one bag in the unit and if we needed more we could purchase additional bags from the Coop. Recycling was big in Wengen, and there were bins located throughout the town for the trash for the special bags.
If you plan on going to Switzerland, rent a chalet and take plenty of money, or do like we did and go to the grocery store. We knew Switzerland was going to be expensive, but it was a place I always wanted to see. The views were unbelievable and we were both glad we picked Wengen to stay during our week in Switzerland. We took the trains more than we anticipated so keep that in mind when you are selecting a place to stay. We had to take the train off the mountain every day to go anywhere. We would not have had this view if we stayed in Lauterbrunnen.