A Swiss Alps Lodge Frozen in Time

For the Time Capsule series, we highlight a cherished restaurant, resort or landmark that is changed remarkably minimal above the a long time. This 7 days, we go to Good St. Bernard Hospice in Switzerland.


Switzerland’s Great St. Bernard Hospice is a bona fide antiquity. A complicated of buildings perched over the tree line at 8,114 feet—cradled in the aptly named Valley of Desolation—it predates the Swiss-Italian border, just a several yards absent. The oldest areas of the construction date to the 11th century, when an Italian vicar, afterwards canonized as St. Bernard of Menthon, constructed it as a monastery and a refuge for Rome-sure pilgrims crossing the precarious, bandit-riddled transalpine pass. By the 1670s, the monks weren’t just sheltering weary tourists but a breed of jowly pups, descendants of Asiatic hounds. Christened St. Bernards, the puppies ended up skilled to assist rescue wayward wanderers and bred at the hospice until eventually 2004. They were being rarely the only famous guests. In 1800, Napoleon was nursed back again to overall health in one of the rooms though crossing with 40,000 men and 500 horses. A long time later, Charles Dickens, extensively chilled by the hospice and its mortuary filled with “the unclaimed,” described Terrific-St.-Bernard as a “great hollow on the major of a selection of dreadful mountains.”


A nonetheless-active monastery and inn (and part of the By means of Francigena pilgrim route functioning from Canterbury to Rome), the hospice can only be reached by vehicle from June to mid Oct. In winter, people need to snowshoe up steep slopes from the shuttered Super St. Bernard Vacation resort, about a two-hour generate from Geneva or Turin. The 90-minute climb is arduous, but the backcountry ski back down is fulfilling. Ditto for the hospice’s hospitality. The exteriors may possibly keep their colorless austerity, but they harbor an interior with crackling fires carved wood ceilings long, unexpectedly convivial lunches and generously refilled wine carafes. While a fancy 30-place auberge opened inside of the hospice a couple of many years back again, it only operates in summertime and early slide. Or else, common dorms and a few non-public rooms make for a spare continue to be. Wintertime attendees will have to bring their personal sleeping bag, or order a person there. Now, beneath the Covid-19 polices, masks are required way too, but even that is not new: This isn’t the hospice’s 1st pandemic.


A quick heritage of St. Bernard dogs

Rescue trainees at Wonderful St. Bernard Hospice in 1913



1670s The monks at Wonderful St. Bernard Hospice commence breeding Swiss alpine canines.

1700s Alpine guides manufactured use of the dogs’ huge upper body to distinct snow from the paths and their keen feeling of scent to obtain and rescue pilgrims buried in avalanches.

1814 Barry, between the most heroic canines, is credited with preserving more than 40 individuals, dies. His taxidermied continues to be are exhibited in Bern’s Pure History Museum.

1820 An Edwin Landseer portray depicts a St. Bernard with a phial of brandy all-around its neck and an indelible picture is born, irrespective of historians assertion that the animals by no means carried spirits.

2005 The Barry Foundation, the St. Bernards’ formal breeding kennel, is founded in the valley under the hospice.

2007/2008The Barry Foundation commences featuring readers wintertime walks with St. Bernards.


To file absent for a publish-Covid winter season family vacation abroad

1. Bürgenstock

Home to a cluster of resorts, some courting back to 1873, this resort overlooking Lake Lucerne experienced a ritzy renaissance in the ’50s and ’60s when it grew to become the household of both equally Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn. burgenstockresort.com from all around $1,462 a night

2. Hotel Parc Naziunal il Fuorn

Unrefurbished motels are a rarity in Switzerland. But this 16th-century time warp, at the moment scheduled to open on weekends this February and March, is located in the Swiss Countrywide Park. ilfuorn.ch from $220 a night

3. Waldhaus Sils-Maria

Opened in 1908 just outside the house St. Moritz, this grand pile has hosted any variety of renowned intelligentsia, from Nietzsche to David Bowie. waldhaus-sils.ch from $420 a night.

4. Romantik Lodge Schweizerhof Grindelwald


Have you visited the Great St. Bernard Hospice? Share your practical experience. Be a part of the dialogue below.

A weathered-wood chalet, created at the turn of the 19th century, it’s a fast walk to ski lifts. hotel-schweizerhof.com from $528 a evening.

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