Vacation rentals in Switzerland (chalets, farms, apartments)
Review 3038: La Sarine, 214
1bed/1bath apartment in Gstaad, Berner Oberland
August 2007, 12 nights
La Sarine is two modern chalets along the river in the Rutti neighborhood of Gstaad, a mountain town in the Bernese Oberland. You are on the edge of town, near the Eggli gondola (not running summer 2007), seven-minutes walk from the Wispile gondola and 10 minutes walk from the pedestrian mall of Gstaad.
The location is very beautiful. The views from the balcony are lovely, looking down on the river and the fields beyond, then out to the mountains. I liked the location.
You could walk to the pedestrian mall of Gstaad in 10 minutes. There is a good sized Coop supermarket at the other end of the mall, so it is best to drive there (would be a 20 minute walk). There is also a Migros on the other side of town, just past the Coop, that it is best to drive to. There are several small, good deli type shops on the pedestrian mall, plus cafes, restaurants, newsagent and shops.
You can walk to the hiking trails - they pass right in front of the chalet.
Each chalet has four floors of apartments. All have balconies and face towards the river and the mountains (looking away from Gstaad towards Gsteig).
These are privately owned apartments. Some are lived in full time and some are rented out. There are no apartments rented out on the ground level - which is good because the views would not be as nice. The first and second floors (American second and third) each have four apartments. The end ones are larger one bedroom apartments; the middle two are smaller studios with windows only on the balcony side. I think the top floor has one or two larger apartments.
We had an end apartment on the third floor. It was larger than we needed and is set up to sleep four with one bedroom with twins (pushed together to make one bed) and a double Murphy bed in the large living room. It had a small but very good kitchen and a small but good bathroom. There was also a good sized entrance area for storing your hiking equipment. We had windows on three sides. The studio units would only have a wall of windows at one end - onto the balcony. I think this would be fine because the windows are very large.
We had a good sized balcony with two loungers and a big table with four chairs. I loved to sit on the balcony and read. The balcony was very private from the other balconies - you could not look between them. No other apartments look onto your balcony. From the balcony you had the view of the river and then the spectacular mountains beyond.
The apartment was clean and everything was in good shape. In the living room, the couch sits two and there are two chairs. The couch was not that comfortable but the chairs were good. In the dining area there is a large wood table against a built in wooden bench on two sides and with chairs on the other two sides. We used half the table for our computers, the other half for meals.
The floors are tile in the entrance area, bathroom and kitchen; low pile carpeting in the bedroom and main living/dining room.
We were able to use the wireless broadband in the apartment. It is setup in the office area on the main floor entrance of the building, but the signals reached our apartment. We also had a phone.
The beds were the typical Swiss two twins pushed together, which I really don't like, but that is usually what you find there. The bedroom was small and did not have great lights. There are bedside lights attached to the wall, but they are set up for two single beds, one along each wall, and did not work well for the beds pushed together. The window looked out to a gravelled roof area one floor below, then to the parking lot, but you also looked out to Gstaad and the Palace Hotel and the mountains.
The kitchen was small but very usable and well equipped. It had a medium size fridge, a four-burner electric stove, lots of dishes and glasses, good quality pots and pans. No toaster (not unusual) and a very cheap drip coffee maker, but we used the kettle and a nice ceramic Melita drip thing instead.
There were a few basics in the apartment - coffee filters, spices, some coffee, toilet paper, Kleenex.
Problems or Bonuses
The lovely views from the balcony were the bonus. No problems.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The apartment manager is Ursula who has a small office in the entrance to the building (with office hours a few days a week) and she lives in the building. I found the apartment on the Gstaad Tourist Website, which shows price and availability, and emailed her to book the apartment. Ursula speaks English (but her spoken English is much better than her written English).
We were booking at the last minute (just a day before arriving) so there were not so many apartments available in the Gstaad area. When we stayed in this area in 2003, we were in Saanen. This time I wanted to be in Gstaad. I chose this apartment because it was available, in Gstaad and had broadband.
I don't know why, but I was worried the apartment would not be nice. The photos on the website are not good and you cannot really tell what it is like. I wanted to get there and have a look at the apartment before committing to it for 12 nights. We arrived on Saturday afternoon and found Ursula. I asked if I could see the apartment first. She said sure, but you have booked it and it is the only one available. We ran up to look - thought it was just fine - then went back down to pay. She said not to worry about paying now, but to come when she has office hours. Here I was worried about paying for 12 nights before seeing the place and in the end she was in no rush to get our payment (I did manage to catch her during office hours several days after we arrived and pay).
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I recommend these apartments, but after spending two weeks in Gstaad this trip and two weeks in Saanen in summer 2003, I think I prefer the town of Saanen. Gstaad is very upscale and does not have a good basic Swiss tea room, instead has more fashionable cafes. You can't drive in and easily park in the center of Gstaad, like you can in Saanen. But, Gstaad has more hikes right from the town and you have to come to Gstaad for the supermarkets. There are pros and cons, but I thought I liked Saanen better.
The three towns that make up SaanenLand - Gstaad, Saanen and Schonreid - are only a few miles apart anyway. Anywhere in this area, including towns further away, is great!!
Things to do in this area
In the summer: hiking, walking, biking, paragliding. In the winter: skiing. Nice day trips to the Interlaken area (an hour's drive), other mountain towns, to Gruyere (40 minute drive), to Lake Geneva (Montreux is just over an hour).
In the summer they have lots of events in the area. While we were there, they had the world Beach Volleyball Championship and the whole town was partying (in a quiet kind of way). Cowboy nights was coming at the end of August (we were there for that in 2003). There was a small circus. And the Menuhin music festival was on all summer, with concerts in small local venue several nights a week.
We have spent months in Switzerland, hiking in many regions, and this area is our favorite. The hiking is great and plentiful, the towns are charming.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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