Healing luxury hotel Lenkerhof

Over 300 years ago, a modest bathhouse was built on the site of today’s luxury Lenkerhof Hotel. One of the strongest sulfur springs in Europe promised cures for many aches and pains, but also for serious illnesses. Today, the subtle scent of sulfur in the spa area of the Relais & Chateaux hotel is sometimes reminiscent of the time when bathers were drawn to Lenk.

Ein alter Kupferstich im heutigen Spa-Bereich erinnert an die medizinische Vergangenheit des heutigen Luxushotels Lenkerhof / © Foto: Georg Berg
An old copperplate engraving in today’s spa area recalls the medical past of today’s luxury hotel Lenkerhof / © Photo: Georg Berg

Seclusion as a guarantee of relaxation

Lenk is an insider tip because the place is remote and really only known in Switzerland. And indeed: from Bern, you initially still drive south on a highway. But then the road along the river Simme becomes narrower and narrower and almost at the end of the dead-end road you reach the village and the hiking paradise Lenk. The winter sports area of Adelboden is known as the venue of the annual Ski World Cup. It can be easily reached from Lenk via ski slopes. The source of the Simme River is a natural spectacle, as it springs from a single crevice in seven places. The spa area of the hotel picks up the magic number again, because here in the 7Sources there are also seven different saunas.

Eine Felsenspalte mit sieben Quellen. Die so genannten Siebenbrunnen sind zu Fuß gut vom Hotel Lenkerhof aus zu erreichen. Hier entspringt die Simme, die in den Thunersee mündet / © Foto: Georg Berg
A rock crevice with seven springs. The so-called seven wells can be easily reached on foot from the Hotel Lenkerhof. This is the source of the Simme River, which flows into Lake Thun / © Photo: Georg Berg

However, no one regrets the remoteness here, because it is intentional. In a primal vote typical of Switzerland, the citizens of Lenk decided a few years ago against a tunnel that could connect their valley with the southern canton of Valais. And vacationers also benefit from the isolation. Many hours away from the urban hustle and bustle, one can forget time and experience every moment more intensely.

Schweizer Fahne im Restaurant Bühlberg. Hoch oben auf dem Bühlberg steht das zum Lenkerhof gehörende Bergrestaurant, von dessen Terrasse aus Sie herzhafte Speisen und eine herrliche Aussicht auf die Bergkette, die den Kanton Bern vom Wallis trennt, genießen können / © Foto: Georg Berg
Swiss flag in the Bühlberg restaurant. High up on the Bühlberg stands the mountain restaurant belonging to the Lenkerhof, from whose terrace you can enjoy hearty meals and a magnificent view of the mountain range that separates the canton of Bern from the Valais / © Photo: Georg Berg.

95% of the guests at the Lenkerhof are Swiss. Just under half of them come from Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. In contrast to more sophisticated resorts, there is an unagitated serenity in Lenk; both among guests and hotel staff. Those who vacation at the Lenkerhof don’t have to flaunt their status. Everyone is served with equal attention.

Inmitten eines parkähnlichen Geländes am Stadtrand von Lenk liegt das Hotel Lenkerhof. 80 Zimmer haben einen nach Süden ausgerichteten Balkon / © Foto: Georg Berg
In the midst of park-like grounds on the outskirts of Lenk lies the Hotel Lenkerhof. 80 rooms have south-facing balconies / © Photo: Georg Berg

The Lenkerhof’s path to becoming a five-star hotel

The owner family Opprecht thoroughly renovated the house from 2000 to 2002 and established its orientation as a five-star hotel. The venerable hotel got a youthful ambience and was also designed a bit fancy in some places. One might expect that the guests should feel comfortable as a matter of course. But time and again, one encounters the unexpected. In dealing with the staff, for example, it quickly becomes apparent that here each of the 120 employees should let his or her personality shine through and be ready for serious conversations with the guests.

Einige Werke des Lenkerhof-Eigentümers Jürg Opprecht hängen im Hotel und ihr Verkaufserlös geht an die BPN-Stiftung / © Foto: Georg Berg
Some works by Lenkerhof owner Jürg Opprecht hang in the hotel and their sale proceeds go to the BPN Foundation / © Photo: Georg Berg

Throughout the house, in addition to exhibitions by guest artists, there are always paintings signed JO. All of Jürg Opprecht’s works are for sale, and the proceeds go to a foundation he established to support small entrepreneurs in emerging countries with microloans.

130 guest beds and seats in the gourmet restaurant

At Hotel Lenkerhof, guests have a choice of 10 suites, 30 junior suites, 32 double rooms and 8 single rooms. Part of the gourmet concept is that a seat is reserved for each guest in the gourmet restaurant.

Die Whirlwanne im Schlafbereich der Alpine Selfness Suite ist räumlich geschickt vom Wohnbereich getrennt / © Foto: Georg Berg
The whirlpool tub in the sleeping area of the Alpine Selfness Suite is cleverly separated from the living area / © Photo: Georg Berg

With their high window fronts, the two Alpine Selfness Suites allow a panoramic view of the Wildstrubel massif and are generously equipped with a steam bath, whirlpool tub and cozy living area.

In der sehr geräumigen Alpine Spa Suite steht sogar ein Holzofen für die Gäste bereit / © Foto: Georg Berg
In the very spacious Alpine Spa Suite, there is even a wood-burning stove for guests to enjoy / © Photo: Georg Berg
Mit frischem Obst, Blumen und Grüßen aus der Patisserie werden alle Gäste bei der Ankunft begrüßt / © Foto: Georg Berg
With fresh fruit, flowers and greetings from the patisserie, all guests are welcomed upon arrival / © Photo: Georg Berg

Everything for a restful night at Lenkerhof

So that in the comfortable beds and the healthy mountain air also the night’s rest contributes particularly well to the recovery, the Lenkerhof provides a choice of different pillows on which the head can be bedded.

Bei der Ankunft kann man übrigens aussuchen, ob das Standardkopfkissen ergänzt werden soll durch eines von vier weiteren Kissen / © Foto: Georg Berg
Upon arrival, by the way, you can choose whether the standard pillow should be supplemented by one of four other pillows / © Photo: Georg Berg

For selection in the pillow menu are the
• Pillow Bene lined with duck feathers and combined with a neck roll made of virgin sheep’s wool
• Wellness pillow with medium-hard to hard viscoelastic foam, also called memory foam
• Elite pillow, a bolster filled with duck feathers
• millet pillow, filled with millet chaff
• synthetic pillow filled with synthetic absorbent cotton

Plenty of space to enjoy, socialize or just relax

If you add the children’s restaurant “The Little Prince”, the Relais & Chateaux Hotel Lenkerhof comes to three restaurants. A large terrace, the lobby area with the bar and the two gourmet restaurants “Spettacolo” and “Oh de Vie” offer plenty of space to retreat once in a while or to get into conversation with other guests.

Am Nachmittag auf der Terrasse und abends in der Lobby kommt die Musik nicht aus dem Lautsprecher, sondern wird live auf den Geschmack der Gäste angepasst / © Foto: Georg Berg
In the afternoon on the terrace and in the evening in the lobby, the music does not come from the loudspeaker, but is adapted live to the taste of the guests / © Photo: Georg Berg
Während auf der Terrasse die Zeit für den Apéro gekommen ist, ist in der mediterranen Küche des „Oh de Vie“ der Siedetopf schon für die ersten Pastabestellungen bereit / © Foto: Georg Berg
While it’s time for the aperitif on the terrace, the simmering pot is already ready for the first pasta orders in the Mediterranean kitchen of “Oh de Vie” / © Photo: Georg Berg

Every day, the chef manages over 1000 dishes

Every day, including the 30 different types of cheese buffet, there are 16 dishes on the á la carte menu, which, by the way, is included in the half board for 130 hotel guests. During the peak winter season, the menu is repeated every two weeks, and every week in the summer. This helps to ensure that no guest is served the same thing twice during their stay. Stefan Lünse has been head chef at the Relais & Chateaux Hotel Lenkerhof since 2014. He pays attention to the high quality of the products used and buys them from local producers whenever possible. However, this basic principle does not prevent him from sourcing fresh truffles from Western Australia and the small Bonnotte potato fertilized with algae from France. Fresh herbs and flowers are harvested daily from a small bed in the hotel park.

Küchenchef Stefan Lünse mit Georg Berg am hoteleigenen Kräuterbeet / © Foto: Moritz Berg
Chef Stefan Lünse with Georg Berg at the hotel’s own herb bed / © Photo: Moritz Berg
Küchenchef Stefan Lünse bei den Ziegen auf der Pöris Alp bei Franziska und Christian Zurbrügg. Von hier bezieht der Lenkerhof seinen Ziegenfrischkäse / © Foto: Georg Berg
Chef Stefan Lünse with the goats on the Pöris Alp with Franziska and Christian Zurbrügg. This is where the Lenkerhof gets its fresh goat cheese / © Photo: Georg Berg

Stefan Lünse is on the road every Sunday with his mountain bike. If guests want to accompany him, they will enjoy some personal insider tips. He takes me by car to the Pöris Alp to Franziska and Christian Zurbrügg. They are up here 100 days a year and since one week they have their grandchildren visiting, who are allowed to live here like Heidi. And the goats are also important on the Pöris Alp, because their milk is used to make the fresh goat cheese for the breakfast buffet at the Lenkerhof.

Franziska Zurbrügg bei der Käseproduktion auf der Pöris Alp / © Foto: Georg Berg
Franziska Zurbrügg at the cheese production on the Pöris Alp / © Photo: Georg Berg

A fixed feature in the daily routine of guests at the Lenkerhof: before dinner, the tasting of the wines recommended for the menu of the day takes place daily in the wine cellar at 6 pm.

Degustation im Weinkeller des Lenkerhofs. Hier wird man vom Sommelier anhand der Speisekarte des Tages fachkundig für die Auswahl der Weinbegleitung beraten / © Foto: Georg Berg
Tasting in the wine cellar of the Lenkerhof. Here, the sommelier gives expert advice on the choice of wine accompaniment based on the menu of the day / © Photo: Georg Berg

Restaurant Spettacolo with a new menu every day

Stefan Lünse, der Küchenchef des Lenkerhofs erläutert den Servicemitarbeitern jeden Abend vor dem Abendessen, welche Gerichte im Gourmetrestaurant Spettacolo zur Auswahl stehen / © Foto: Georg Berg
Stefan Lünse, the Lenkerhof’s chef de cuisine, explains to the service staff every evening before dinner which dishes are available in the gourmet restaurant Spettacolo / © Photo: Georg Berg

There are supposed to be worse problems than not being able to decide in view of the numerous delicacies. Then you just take all 15 courses of the day as a tasting menu. In this case, the kitchen is prepared to make the individual portions somewhat smaller. Although we have tried many recommendable dishes at Spettacolo, we will only highlight our special selection here.

Teamgeist und gute Laune. Küchenchef Stefan Lünse und Maitre d'Hotel Christian Müller als Vertreter der weißen und der schwarzen Brigade macht es trotz Stress Spaß, die Gäste zu verwöhnen / © Foto: Georg Berg
Team spirit and good humor. Chef Stefan Lünse and Maitre d’Hotel Christian Müller, representing the white and black brigades, enjoy spoiling guests despite the stress / © Photo: Georg Berg

Very fine as an appetizer is the Canadian lobster with sea asparagus, melons, crispbread and green herb broth. The recommended straw-yellow Chardonnay from Lake Biel convinces with subtle fruit notes.

Kanadischer Hummer, Salicornes, Crème Fraȋche / © Foto: Georg Berg
Canadian lobster, salicorns, crème fraȋche / © Photo: Georg Berg

After the appetizer, there is a choice of two soups. Light, frothy, yet intensely flavorful is the egg sponge soup with chives. Those who prefer a slightly stronger umami flavor are better off with a dashi with seaweed and pork belly, which, sliced very thinly, offers an amazing biting experience.

Linsen-Dhal, Tandoori, Naan / © Foto: Georg Berg
Lentil dhal, tandoori, naan / © Photo: Georg Berg

The intermediate dishes conclude the first part of the menu, which is appropriately accompanied by the white wine suggested at the wine tasting. With the lentil neck in the mouth, one feels transported from the Alps to the Himalayas. The intense intrinsic character of the vegetable is well supported by lime and crispy flatbread.

Granola, Avocado, Nektarine / © Foto: Georg Berg
Granola, avocado, nectarine / © Photo: Georg Berg

Before the main course, you could also opt for a slightly fruity snack. The puffed cereal along with the fruity components engages all the taste senses and creates a desire for the main course again.

Schweizer Rind, Bergkartoffel, Australischer Wintertrüffel / © Foto: Georg Berg
Swiss beef, mountain potato, Australian winter truffle / © Photo: Georg Berg

Very tender is the slice of Swiss beef, on green mashed potatoes surrounded by rich Australian winter truffle, purple potato chips and croquettes. The Australian winter truffle has only been grown for a few years in Western Australia south of Perth and can compete with the best French truffles. In the southern hemisphere, comparable weather conditions can be produced at the same longitude, only at a time of year when we cannot otherwise obtain fresh truffles in Europe.

Französisches Perlhuhn, Hummus, Maulbeere / © Foto: Georg Berg
French guinea fowl, hummus, mulberry / © Photo: Georg Berg

French guinea fowl comes very finely cooked in its crispy skin on mulberry compote and hummus. The special touch to this dish is the early harvested elderberries.

Oh de Vie – the Mediterranean á la Carte Restaurant

The strange name of the Mediterranean second restaurant at Lenkerhof is an onomatopoeia, and this playful attitude suits Hungarian chef Laszlo Papdi well, who, in contrast to the large Spettacolo restaurant, works his magic alone in the small kitchen. Without strictly written recipes, but with a lot of talent, real delicacies are created under his hands, and he can still tell great stories about the experience he gained with international chefs.

Aus Laszlo Papdi sprudeln die Geschichten hinter jedem Gericht nur so heraus und dabei bemerkt man gar nicht, dass er es nebenbei noch auf den Teller zaubert / © Foto: Georg Berg
László Papdi’s stories bubble out of every dish, and you don’t even notice that he’s putting them on your plate along the way / © Photo: Georg Berg

Even the first course combines influences from three countries. The fillet of fresh local salmon trout was dehydrated in the Norwegian way with salt and sugar, so that the layer of fat under the peeled skin can be nicely roasted. Spanish Chardonnay vinegar and olive-lime oil bathe the cucumber ragout in a delightful broth, which is then topped with a mascarpone ice cream. The wine pairing grows in Switzerland on Lake Biel. The 2017 Chasselas Selection Johanniter is a perfect recommendation.

Lachsforelle aus Zweisammen mit Mascarponeeis, Meerforellenrogen, Gurkenragout, Gurkensud, Oliven-Limetten-Öl / © Foto: Georg Berg
Salmon trout from Zweisammen with mascarpone ice cream, sea trout roe, cucumber ragout, cucumber broth, olive-lime oil / © Photo: Georg Berg.

The following cold date tomato cream soup is poured over a sorbet of red wine vinegar and is a great summer dish with its sour to slightly bitter notes. When paired with the fruity Al Poggio Chardonnay 2015 from Tuscany, it creates a subtle tension.

Geeiste Datteltomatencreme-Suppe mit Cannelini, Bohnenpaste, Melone aus Sizilien, Babyfenchel und Rotweinessig-Eis / © Foto: Georg Berg
Iced date tomato cream soup with cannellini, bean paste, melon from Sicily, baby fennel and red wine vinegar ice cream / © Photo: Georg Berg.

Laszlo Papdi prepares the pasta dough for the following dish by feel and never according to fixed quantities. Here in the dry Swiss air, he would probably add one more egg yolk than he did in England. The agnolotti, filled with wild wild garlic, ricotta, Parmesan and wild mushrooms, are folded using a technique that dates back to the 15th century. The balanced tannin structure of Le Volte dell Ornellaia 2015 from Tuscany, together with the fresh fruit notes of this red wine, complements the dish perfectly.

Agnolotti mit Parmesan und Waldpilzen / © Foto: Georg Berg
Agnolotti with parmesan and wild mushrooms / © Photo: Georg Berg

The quail has been cooking in a water bath at 62 °C for a while before it arrives on the plate sharply seared next to the porcini mushroom cream enriched with apple pieces and mini vegetables. The heavy Castello La Leccia 2015, aged in barrique, nevertheless allows all the nuances of the main course to come to the fore.

Wachtel mit Steinpilzcreme, caramelisierter Apfel an Calvados, Lauchstroh / © Foto: Georg Berg
Quail with porcini cream, caramelized apple on calvados, leek straw / © Photo: Georg Berg.

With a wide range of textures and flavors, the dessert adds another highlight to the menu. The tartuffo, resting on a hazelnut cream and filled with Amalfi lemon gel, gets a distinct accent from lavender flowers.

Tartuffo di Pizzo mit Amalfi Zitronengel und Lavendel / © Foto: Georg Berg
Tartuffo di Pizzo with Amalfi lemon gel and lavender / © Photo: Georg Berg

Magnificent view from the mountain restaurant Bühlberg

Simpler but also very good is Gunter Steininger’s cuisine at the Bergrestaurtant Bühlberg. We enjoyed a dinner in the evening atmosphere and afterwards learned from the German couple running the restaurant, Anja and Gunter Steininger, how much they enjoy life at 1664 meters above sea level.

Anja und Gunter Steininger als Postkartenmotiv vom Bergrestaurant Bühlberg / © Foto: Georg Berg
Anja and Gunter Steininger as postcard motif of the mountain restaurant Bühlberg / © Photo: Georg Berg
Schweinsmedaillons im Lenker Trockenfleischmantel mit feinen Nudeln an Lenker Berg Bleu Sauce / © Foto: Georg Berg
Pork medallions in Lenker dried meat coat with fine noodles on Lenker Berg Bleu sauce / © Photo: Georg Berg

Up on the alp, the hearty Swiss dishes are good against the hunger you inevitably get from long walks in the fresh mountain air.

Die Kühe auf der Alp sind übrigens tagsüber im Stall. Dafür fressen sie das saftige Alpengras vom Sonnenuntergang bis zum Morgengrauen, was an dem kontinuierlichen Geläut ihrer Glocken nicht zu überhören ist / © Foto: Georg Berg
By the way, the cows on the alp are in the stable during the day. In return, they eat the lush alpine grass from sunset to dawn, which cannot be missed by the continuous ringing of their bells / © Photo: Georg Berg

Health and well-being at the 7 Sources

The 34°C warm sulfur water from the hotel’s own Belmen spring can be used in various ways. Enjoyed from a carafe at the breakfast buffet, it is said to activate the metabolism, thin the blood and make you hungry. However, such medicinal promises are no longer top of mind today. Seven saunas, various massages, a fitness room two pools and several beauty offers leave hardly any wish unfulfilled.

Zum Frühstück: Detox mit Schwefelwasser / © Foto: Georg Berg
For breakfast: Detox with sulfur water / © Photo: Georg Berg
Sieben verschiedene Saunen und eine auf -2°C heruntergekühlte Kältekammer sind im Spa-Bereich leicht zu finden / © Foto: Georg Berg
Seven different saunas and a cold chamber cooled down to -2°C are easy to find in the spa area / © Photo: Georg Berg
Finnische Sauna mit Panoramablick / © Foto: Georg Berg
Finnish sauna with panoramic view / © Photo: Georg Berg
Georg Berg freut sich über eine entspannende Massage, bei der auch heiße Kieselsteine aus dem Flussbett der Simme zum Einsatz kommen / © Foto: Moritz Berg
Georg Berg enjoys a relaxing massage that includes hot pebbles from the Simme riverbed / © Photo: Moritz Berg
Abendliches Alpenglühen über dem 34°C warmen Außenpool / © Foto: Georg Berg
Evening alpenglow above the 34°C outdoor pool / © Photo: Georg Berg

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Our mode of operation is characterized by self-experienced, well-researched text work and professional, vivid photography. For all stories, travel impressions and photos are created in the same place. Thus, the photos complement and support what is read and carry it further.

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