Berggasthaus Aescher guesthouse, in the Appenzell region of Switzerland, is unlike any other spot I’ve traveled.
It’s an epic journey to get there, but once you arrive you’ll find a small mountain guesthouse that is seemingly floating above the clouds, built onto the side of the mountains, and nestled among the Swiss Alps. Inside you’ll find a home overflowing with warmth, family, love, and delicious Swiss food and beer that is graciously served by Claudia, Benny, and members of their family.
It’s one of my favorite small corners of the world and a place I’ll visit and enjoy for years to come. Read below for step-by-step directions on how to find this gem.
STEP 1: How to Get There
Wondering how to get yourself to the Appenzell region of Switzerland, specifically a small town called Wasserauen, which is about 5 miles outside the main city of Appenzell? You can drive from Zurich (it takes about one hour) or you can take a train from Zurich to the Wasserauen train station. If you go by train you’ll have to make a few train changes, but it’s pretty easy to navigate.
Step 2: Hop on the Cable Car
If you drive into Wasserauen, drive to the end of town until you see the Ebenalp cable car lift. You can’t miss it! You can leave your car in their parking lot. If you take the train into Wasserauen, you’ll see the cable car as soon as you get off the train. Buy a round-trip ticket on the lift and then ride it about 5,000 feet up to the top. If you have a lot of luggage, consider leaving your large bags at the Ebenalp lift station and carry a smaller backpack.
Step 3: Start Walking
When you get to the top and walk out of the lift station, look for signs pointing you towards Gasthous Aescher. You’ll end up walking down a steep hill, somewhat paved but with rocks, for about 10-15 minutes.
Step 4: Keep Walking
Keep walking on the path until you see an entrance to a cave. Yes, you read that right, a cave. Walk down into the cave. It will be dark, but keep going and in a few minutes you will see the light from the other side.
Step 5: Keep Walking, Past the Church
Just around the corner you’ll pass by a small church on your right. A church carved into the mountainside, who knew? Apparently it is 400 years old and was used by hermit monks who lived and worshipped here from 1658 to 1853.
Step 6: Just Around the Bend
Walk a bit farther around the last bend, and when you turn the corner you’ll see Berggasthaus Aescher guesthouse. WOW!
The guesthouse (and accompanying restaurant) are run off mountain water, so no showers at this spot! (Sorry.)
While you’re here you can spend a few days hiking around the mountains below and above the guesthouse, or just spend your time relaxing, reading, playing cards, and soaking in the amazing views.
Don’t miss out on the locally made beer they serve, Appenzeller (their version of an amaro), and Benny’s amazing rösti! Rösti is a classic Swiss dish full of potatoes, butter, cheese, and a variety of toppings.
I promise, you won’t be disappointed if you commit to making the effort to get here. To reserve a room at Berggasthaus Aescher, contact them through their website.
Editor’s Note: Going at it alone isn’t your thing? Consider joining Mary during her visit there next year with a small group of women, June 19-28, 2015. They’ll explore Berggasthaus Aescher and other small corners of Switzerland. Click here for details.