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Oasis in the Snow: Hotel Eiger Selfness, Switzerland

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Oasis in the Snow: Hotel Eiger Selfness, Switzerland
The south face of the Eiger, Switzerland. Photo by Pmau

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The Hotel Eiger Selfness provides a refreshing and rejuvenating sojourn in the Swiss Alps.

Adjoining apartments in the guesthouse chalet above the hotel provided us with ideal family accommodation — three spacious bedrooms, two bathrooms, full kitchen and laundry facilities, and a large dining and living area, not to mention fabulous views of the Bernese Alps, including the Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch, from our windows and balconies.

Eiger Selfness is well-known for its cuisine: it has excellent restaurants and bars — though we were too exhausted by our daytime high-altitude exertions to indulge in much nightlife. Barry’s Restaurant features delectable Swiss and international dishes in a cosy woody atmosphere, surrounded with pictures of the mountains and the famous St. Bernard, Barry, who saved many lives here last century. The Speisesaal Galleria serves a substantial breakfast buffet, afternoon coffee and homemade cakes, and in the evening a multi-course menu. The Bistro Memory serves up Swiss cheese and potato specialities, and the Gepsi Bar is the place to be for aperitifs, nightcaps and drinks after dinner with live music.

A polished wooden table laid out for a meal in a wood panelled room
A cosy scene at Barry’s restaurant at Eiger Selfness Hotel, Grindelwald, Switzerland.

Breakfast was the major gastronomic event of the day for us, as we were treated each morning to a different health drink (pear, cucumber and avocado being a memorable combination) before we launched into a veritable feast of every breakfast offering imaginable — the selection was mind-boggling. This set us up for the whole day, providing energy for the myriad strenuous winter activities on the agenda – skiing, skating, winter hiking, snow shoeing, flying fox, sleigh rides, and whizzing downhill on the traditional Swiss velogemel, or bike sledge.

The other fitness-obsessed members of my family took advantage of the fully-equipped supervised health centre, plunge pool, jacuzzi, and sauna, along with yoga, pilates, aerobics, zumba and jazzercise classes led by experts in their field. Guests can also book a session in a gorgeous private blossom pool and jacuzzi complete with candles and bubbly. However, at the end of a strenuous day’s skiing, the luxury of prizing my feet out of the vice grip of my ski boots, peeling off layers of wool and slipping into the soothing warm oasis of the Hotel Eiger Selfness spa was divine.

A plate of toast and butter with cutlery
Toast night at Gepsi Bar, Eiger Selfness Hotel, Grindelwald, Switzerland.

The range of beauty, fitness and health therapy treatments available at the Eiger is outstanding. For skin regeneration and anti-ageing, yeast — with its high proportion of B-complex vitamins, biotin and niacin — is like a fountain of youth for the skin. Scrubs rich in arnica refresh, cleanse and moisturise the skin after activity; honey and stone pine give the skin elasticity and suppleness, activate cells and restore balance; and St John’s wort firms, purifies and stimulates the regeneration of the skin.  Mud packs and wraps for purification use juniper, stimulating orange oil and the diuretic effect of young birch leaves to support the body’s detoxification processes. For sportspeople, Marmot oil combined with gentian root, peppermint oil and spelt improves circulation, prevents inflammation, stimulates the metabolism and eases muscle tension.

The menu includes half- and full-body massages utilising lotions with the active ingredients of arnica blossom for cooling and revitalising after sport or physical stress; honey bee propolis for sensitive or stressed skin; St John’s wort for the nervous system, muscles and circulation; and arnica tonic and honey intensive face cream, rich in nutrients for rejuvenating, moisturising, and calming the head and face. A range of techniques ensures any and all ailments are addressed: shiatsu and Balinese massage stimulate the flow of energy around the body, bringing deep relaxation and a sense of wellness and spiritual serenity.

I floated into a dreamlike state as Nami’s expert hands worked on tight spots, relieved tension and relaxed muscles that had worked hard that day on the slopes.

Herbal stamp massage uses warm stamps, filled with different herbs and heated with steam, to impart a deep lasting sense of relaxation and healing. In a similar vein, hot stone massage is a combination of massage and energy work using hot and cool stones applied to critical parts of the body. The contrast of hot and cold imparts more intense sensations and deep relaxation. Finally, honey massage has origins in Tibetan medicine and has been found to improve circulation and boost the immune system. The natural healing effect of honey comes from stimulating the reflex zones. This is beneficial for detoxifying and disinfecting the skin, and bringing the body back into balance.

I relinquished my aching body to the tender care of Nami, a Japanese masseuse who administered a relaxing massage using bioactive alpine arnica lotion to improve circulation, tissue elasticity and ease the muscles. The technique involves effleurage, pétrissage, friction, circulation and tapotement — and it was the finest massage of my life. I floated into a dreamlike state as Nami’s expert hands worked on tight spots, relieved tension and relaxed muscles that had worked hard that day on the slopes.

A curved red, wooden slatted sitting area
Spa innovation: the new private area set to open in late 2016 at Eiger Selfness Spa, Grindelwald.

As we sipped hot spicy mulled wine and sampled Swiss delicacies beside glowing braziers on the balcony, owner Gisela Heller explains that the hotel’s ‘selfness’ philosophy is all about pampering oneself. “However, it’s not just about short-term relaxation, but rather permanent inner change. You will find here an exciting symbiosis of traditional values and nature, mixed with modern and refreshing new ideas,” she said. “The benefits of a stay here continue long after your holiday is over.”

Gisela was right. There is something so healing and energising about the alpine environment — I felt refreshed and renewed long after I left. Consider me sold on the ‘selfness’ philosophy.

Justine Tyerman travelled to Switzerland courtesy of the Swiss Travel Pass and Cathay Pacific.

Published on September 13, 2016
Location: Grindelwald
Country: Switzerland ›
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