Vacation rentals in Switzerland (chalets, farms, apartments)
Review 3037: Chalet Damami, Mid-Level Apartment
apartments on the edge of Leysin, Vaud
July 2007, 2.5 weeks
Chalet Damami is a lovely wooden chalet, with three apartments (one on each floor), on the edge of the town of Leysin, in the Vaud region, above Lake Geneva. Leysin is a charming Mountain town, similar to ones in the Bernese Oberland (which is only 30 minutes drive away). Vaud is French speaking.
The chalet is on a residential street of chalets, but they have large yards so are not that close together.
It was a 15 minute walk into the center of town, where there was a very good Coop, a bakery (La Boutique à Pain), a newsagent, the post office, several restaurants and a tea room (La Farandole). A smaller PAM supermarket was closer to the chalet (they have excellent pastries and bread). It was a 10 minute walk.
You could easily drive into Leysin and park right in the center of town. There is free parking in several places and it was never full (you need a parking disc to mark your arrival time).
There are two mega-supermarkets down in the valley: a large Migros just past the Autoroute entrance for Aigle (go under the Autoroute, then follow signs to commercial center); a large Coop at the Villeneuve exit (follow the signs to Evian and it is on your right after you leave the Autoroute).
We did most of our shopping at the Coop in town (lots of organic selections, good vegetables and fruits, some prepared meals) and went to the larger Coop near Villeneuve once and the large Migros once.
The large Coop has a good selection of sandwiches if you are picking up something for a day out. The small Coop in Leysin has a smaller selection. We also got good sandwiches at the bakery (there are two - one near the Coop, another down in the historic part of the village).
The tea room/cafe La Farandole in the center of town, near the Coop, was very good for an afternoon coffee and cake or breakfast (petit dejeuner). It has a large outside area, a small inside area that is non-smoking and a room upstairs for smokers.
The chalet owner provides a very good document listing (and reviewing) all the restaurants in town, plus everything else about the town. There are several good restaurants in town and two excellent mountain restaurants on the trails (Les Fers and Lac du Mayen - you can walk or drive to both).
The chalet was built in the 1970s in the style of a traditional wooden chalet. The current owner renovated it recently and turn it into three apartments. The chalet is built into a hill so that the Garden apartment is at ground level in the front, but the Mid-Level Apartment (the one we were in) was a ground level at the back. The building is in very good shape and is well maintained.
The Garden apartment is the smallest, but has access to the front yard. The Mid-Level Apartment (one bed, one bath) is the most luxurious and has a nice balcony looking out to a fabulous view. It overlooks the front yard. The Top-Level apartment is the largest (two bedrooms) but does not have a balcony.
You could hear some noise between the apartments, mostly footsteps from the apartment above, but if the people above did not wear heavy shoes (as the owner asks), then the noise is minimal. The area is very peaceful, with no traffic noise.
The main entrance to the building is at the mid-level, where there is a small bathroom and an area for hanging wet coats and leaving hiking boots. The door to our apartment and the upper apartment was at the level. There were stairs down to the laundry room (washer and dryer) and the door to the Garden apartment.
Our balcony was wonderful. It is long and narrow, but you could sit outside to have a meal or to enjoy the view. This was the best view we have ever had from an apartment in Switzerland, looking south-east from Leysin across the valley to the mountains beyond. You could even see down to the valley off Lake Geneva and towards Mont Blanc.
Furniture was very nice and comfortable. In the living room there was a nice window seat where you could sit or lay, plus a large couch and a chair. The dining table was very large (we used half as a desk, half for eating) but had two long benches instead of chairs (a bit uncomfortable, but pretty typical for Switzerland). There were two wooden chairs in the bedroom and we used those for working at the table.
The apartment was very clean.
There is a very good flat screen TV with DVD player. The TV gets CNN and the British channels. BBC Radio 4 is available on a speaker in the bathroom! There is also a nice stereo. Wireless Internet is available (high speed) in the whole chalet.
The living room and dining room have large windows, so you see the beautiful view and the apartment is very light. The floors are all wood. This was a very beautiful apartment, but not so fancy that you felt uncomfortable.
The bedroom had one queen sized bed. In Switzerland you usually get two twins pushed together - so this was a treat to have a regular bed! It was comfortable. The linens were lovely. Lots of towels for the bathroom, including large bath towels and nice bathrobes!
The bathroom was off the bedroom and had a nice deep tub with a good over the tub shower.
Great kitchen! Four-burner gas stove, beautiful marble counter-tops, big fridge, good dishwasher. I cooked most of our meals here. Pots and pans were good, lots of dishes and glasses. There is a Nepresso coffee maker, but the capsules that you use for this are somewhat expensive. The owner left enough for us to use and we replaced them at the end of our stay (had to order them online - I think the owner will get this worked out so that you can pay him for any you use). It is worth paying for them because the coffee is really good!
The kitchen was well equipped with electric kettle, toaster and other things. You don't always find a toaster in Swiss kitchens, but the owner is English, so it is equipped like an English kitchen (which is similar to an American kitchen, if that makes any sense).
I loved using the kitchen. It is open up to the whole main room - kitchen, dining area, living room. Big windows in the dining and living rooms, nice windows in the kitchen too. You could cook and look out to the view. There was a small TV in the kitchen, which showed the same channel the living room TV was set to. I have never had a TV in the kitchen and it was a treat to watch the news or another BBC program while cooking - or you could set it to BBC radio.
Problems or Bonuses
The owner lives in England and goes back and forth. We met him when we arrived (he was just leaving). We kept in touch by email while we were there. He also has a local "key keeper."
The surprise was how lovely the apartment was and the incredible views. Also the town was very charming.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I booked directly with the owner, who advertises on Slow Travel (that was how I found the apartment). Payment can be made by PayPal or credit card. The owner sends complete and detailed instructions for the apartment and info for the town to you by email. The price for the Mid-Level Apartment was about $1200/week - not cheap for two people, but you are getting a large, spacious, well equipped apartment in a very nice location. We paid a similar price for our rental in Gstaad (and the apartment was not as nice).
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Things to do in this area
My only qualification on recommending this location is that the hiking from Leysin is good, but not as good as in some of the Bernese Oberland towns (Gstaad, Kandersteg, Grindelwald). We go to Switzerland to hike and by the end of a week, we had done the hikes in Leysin. After that we had to drive to nearby hiking areas like Gstaad (45 minute drive) or Les Diableretts (20 minutes) or Les Mosses (20 minutes). You can also hike in Villars (30 minutes).
There is only one mountain ride in Leysin and it goes right up to the top of the mountain. The only hikes from there are either up to higher peaks (too hard for us) or back down the mountain. Instead, we hiked from Leysin up and then back down. Usually, in Swiss mountain towns, you can take a mountain ride up, then walk for several hours, and take another ride back down.
There are many easy trails from Leysin, that are on small, unused, paved roads. Occasionally local cars go on these. Mountain bikers use them, as do hikers. There are two very good mountain restaurants (Les Fers and Lac du Mayen) that you can walk to in about an hour. These made for lovely easy uphill walks, then you walked back to town.
If you don't want to spend every day hiking, this is a perfect base. You can get to Montreux in 45 minutes (on Lake Geneva). We drove to Evian on the French side of the lake. You can get to the Valais easily and explore the towns there, or drive to Gstaad (45 minutes) and then into the rest of the Bernese Oberland. You could spend weeks exploring all the nearby mountain towns and then go down to Lake Geneva and explore more.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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