Don’t feel like making big travel plans abroad yet, for example because you want to avoid the chaos at airports or the traffic jams on foreign motorways? Then the “pleasure expert” Marin Jenni of the SonntagsZeitung has put together seven “retreats with addictive potential”. Jenni writes the following about his suggestions in the summary: “Perhaps with soft grass cushions on the Splügen Pass and time-honoured dry stone walls in the Binn Valley. In Lucerne, Maria offers art, lake views and a bacio of Perugina, while on Lake Geneva, ducks dive at sunset and perch fillets swim in Chasselas. In the fields of the Emmental, the cornflowers are glowing, and hamme and rösti are waiting in the plate. When Zurich wakes up early in the morning and the fresh air tickles the nose, the desire for the first espresso is great and the view of the Froebeli water lily in the Signau pond is intense. On the Lukmanier, the moorland is eerily beautiful, and further down in the Blenio Valley there is an old manor house with dishes and stories.” And these are the seven soulful gems:

Hotel Ofenhorn in Binn (VS)

Hotel Ofenhorn

The Hotel Ofenhorn in Binn is a unique Belle Époque pearl; Photo: Screenshot website Hotel Ofenhorn

The Hotel Ofenhorn – unique Belle Époque pearl – was opened in 1883 and extended in 1897. The Swiss Heritage Society counts the “Ofenhorn” as one of the most beautiful hotels in Switzerland. Not only the building shell, but also the rooms and much of the furniture still breathe the spirit of the Belle Époque, the pioneering era of the hotel industry.

Jenni writes about the Ofenhorn Hotel: “Whoever stays at the Ofenhorn is a witness of days gone by. Regula Hüppi knows how to offer guests a pleasant temporary home away from home.”

Auberge de Rivaz in Rivaz (VD)

Auberge de Rivaz

The Auberge de Rivaz is located in the heart of the Laveau and has a fantastic view of the Alps and Lake Geneva. Photo: Screenshot website Auberge de Rivaz

The Auberge de Rivaz is located in the heart of Lavaux, a Unesco World Heritage Site. It offers its guests two exceptional panoramas: Lake Geneva fringed by the Alpine peaks and the magnificent hillside terraces of the Rivaz vineyard. The hotel’s twelve guest rooms were completely renovated in winter 2018.

Jenni writes: “The hosts Stéphanie Papazian and Jacques Stämpfli deserve praise for this auberge, which convinces with quality and a sympathetic price policy.”

Löchlibad in Obergoldbach (BE)

Hotel Löchlibad

Zimmer as if from a novel by Jeremias Gotthelf; Photo: Screenshot Website Hotel Löchlibad

“Anyone who enters the guest parlour will understand Gotthelf,” Jenni writes in his article – and continues: “Two guest rooms, Fuchs and Has, convince with the charm of days gone by and the comfort of today.”

And the hosts write about their Löchlibad: “Welcome to our personal and unique oasis of well-being, where fox and hare still say good night to each other. With us you sleep in original Emmental bed linen and enjoy the peace and energy of our Löchlibad power place. Simply beautiful.”

Villa Maria in Luzern (LU)

Villa Maria

La grande bellezza is the claim of the 1950s villa that has been stylishly modernised into the boutique Villa Maria hotel in Lucerne.

Located just a few metres from Lake Lucerne, Villa Maria has eight modern rooms and suites and a small garden. Guests can expect tranquil rooms with an in-house furniture collection by designer Daniel Hunziker, design influences from the 1950s and contemporary art by Nina Staehli.

And this is what Jenni says about this little bijou: “The hoteliers Manuel Berger and Walter ‘Willi’ Willimann, the artist Nina Staehli and the designer Daniel Hunziker have succeeded in creating an exciting, elegant throw. With their vision, they have transformed the dusty Villa Maria into an idiosyncratic, stylish hotel.”

Signau House & Garden, Zürich (ZH)

Signau House & Garden

In Zurich, there is a villa. It is new, over 100 years old. A hotel in a new dress. In the garden, fir trees, a small water basin and Froebeli water lilies. Photo: Screenshot website Signau House & Garden

The two hoteliers Suzanne Gross and Regula Brucker write about their very special hotel villa Signau House & Garden in Zurich Riesbach: “Opened in mid-2018, the boutique hotel Signau House & Garden is dedicated to the Froebeli water lily, which was first planted here and named after its breeder. Managed by people and made for people, the hotel is now a place to arrive and relax, a starting point for inner contemplation and individual discoveries – a place where people like to travel, where they like to stay and where they like to return.”

And Jenni says: “A unique place.”

Berghaus Splügenpass (GR)

Berghaus Splügenpass

The Berghaus Splügenpass has four lovingly furnished, historic double or triple rooms, a small double room and a group room with six single beds. The historic double rooms have been gently renovated, the shared bathroom and the group room were completely renewed in 2018/19. Photo: Winfried Heinze

The Berghaus Splügenpass is located at 2035 m.a.s.l., only a few metres from the Italian border. It was built at the beginning of the 19th century, when 400 to 500 pack animals as well as carriages and wagons crossed the pass every week.

Foto: Winfried Heinze

Felicitas and Andreas Gisler-Helbling have been running the Berghaus since 2013 with passion and pleasure in the alpine ambience. Photo: Winfried Heinze

Felicitas and Andreas Gisler-Helbling have been running the mountain house since 2013 with passion and pleasure in the alpine ambience. They are fascinated by the history of the Splügen Pass and you can still find a touch of the past times within the walls of the Berghaus.

Jenni describes the welcome at the Berghaus as warm. The double rooms are inviting, she says, and the communal showers stylish. “With the purchase of the Oberhaus, the hosts have been living out their passion for ten years. With the help of friends, family and a lot of personal effort, a bijou has been created for eating, drinking, sleeping and dreaming. Charming, surprising, hospitable, different.” And further: “If you want to experience the Giselas in the Berghaus again, you have to hurry. It is their last season. It ends on 10 October – innovative successors are being sought.”

Casa Lucomagno in Olivone (TI)

Casa Lucogano

The facades and interiors of the historic villa Casa Lucomagno were stylishly renovated between 2014 and 2018. Photo: Screenshot website Casa Lugogagno

The carefully restored 19th century summer residence Casa Lucomagno is located in Olivone – centrally in the village on a quiet little side street. On the first floor, there are two holiday flats with 4-5 beds each, handicapped accessible bathrooms, private kitchen and balcony or terrace. The second floor comprises another holiday flat with private bathroom and kitchen for 2 persons as well as three guest rooms. The secluded garden as well as the cosy fireplace room with a well-stocked library and games offer space to meet and talk, but also to relax in a quiet spot and be for oneself.

Jenni’s comment on this extraordinary house: “Juniper spaghetti and rabbit liver with artichokes sound unfamiliar to untrained tongues. Hosts Werner Birnstiel and Pia Steiner cook excellent dishes that are not heavy on the stomach. Neither to the stomach nor to the wallet. Their wine selection is also convincing, with vintners who are relatively unknown. … Also worth mentioning are the carefully renovated ceiling paintings, the façade, the wooden floors and the original furniture. An oasis with addictive potential.”