High Stars

Eric Kendall, 19 March, 2018
The walls may not be made of oregano, nor the duvets stuffed with parsley, but the Kräuterhotel ('herb hotel') Edelweiss definitely deserves its botanical name, as our Swiss expert Eric Kendall explains...

It's a well established principle in Switzerland that the further up a mountain you go, the cheesier the eating becomes. By the time you reach the upper limits of habitation, towards the traditional high grazing grounds known as 'Alps', you're pretty much mainlining molten cheese, whether in the form of fondue or raclette. So the Hotel Edelweiss, well on the way to the summit of Mount Rigi – the ‘Queen of the Mountains’, is nothing short of astonishing.

Your first clue is in the full name 'Kräuterhotel Edelweiss' – literally, the 'herb hotel Edelweiss'. Given that the traditional looking building is clearly not made of oregano, nor are the duvets stuffed with parsley, it's reasonable to assume it's something to do with the kitchen. The second clue is the extensive garden – all of it on a 25-degree slope – filled with all manner of edible greenery including more herbs than you might have thought existed across the globe, never mind at 1550 meters above sea level in central Switzerland.

Once inside, there's little to give the game away until you take a second glance at the bar, from where they will serve you anything from an afternoon tisane grown and dried within 50 meters of where you're sitting, to a G&T whose T is every bit as local and unique.

When you eventually sit down to your meal, whether you're simply eating the half board menu or dining à la carte, the penny might finally drop: the kitchen is home to the newly awarded Michelin-starred chef, Benjamin Just. His cooking philosophy is about natural, local, seasonal produce, suffused – of course – with herbs. Whether it’s a crisp salad, tender beef or something delicious done to a vegetable, it’s this subtle taste of the Alps which comes through. The smooth, relaxed service and extraordinary view complete the experience, crowned by the fact that this must surely be the only such star to be found at the end of a cog railway.

Around Lake Lucerne

Combining superb walking with thrilling boat, rail and cable car journeys, this varied holiday takes you right into the heart of the mountains, where some superb cuisine awaits you...
More about our walking holidays in Switzerland >
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