Brig, Switzerland is a lovely town situated in southern Switzerland. You must put this little gem on your Switzerland bucket list!
When I last posted about Switzerland, Christina, from Christina’s Cucina, and I were in Lugano on our Cruise and Cook adventure. The next day we headed for Brig, Switzerland. Although Brig not as well known as other towns in Switzerland, it certainly has plenty to offer.
Brig is in the south-western part of Switzerland, in the Canton of Valais, and is just around 2 hours (or less) from either Locarno to the east, or Zermatt to the south, which made it a perfect half way stop on our trip through Switzerland.
(Disclosure: Christina and I were hosted by Valais-Wallis Tourism (Brig-Simplon), Hotel de Londres, and Brasserie Des Cheminots at the Ambassador Hotel in Brig, Switzerland. We were also provided with Swiss Passes for rail transportation, thanks to Switzerland Tourism.)
Christina and I left Lugano, bound for Brig in the morning. We used our Swiss Rail Passes to take the train from Lugano to Locarno, and then Locarno to Domodossola. Although Domodossola is in Italy, our Swiss Travel Passes covered the trip through Italy, which is a nice perk. (More about the Swiss Travel Pass in a future post). Domodossola to Brig is just a 30 minute trip.
Once we arrived in Brig, we walked a few blocks, really less than 10 minutes from the railway station, to the center of Brig, where the Hotel de Londres is located.
The Hotel de Londres is right in the middle of the Old Town of Brig. Although this charming hotel has the feel of the “new kid on the block” with its sparkling clean rooms and minimalist style, the Hotel de Londres has been around since 1884.
It was recently modernized a few years ago, and has top-notch amenities and free wi-fi. My room was a nestled under the dormers, with a large sunroof that let in lots of light. Although there is no lobby, the central gathering spot is the cozy English inspired lounge, with soft chairs, and tables for games or dining.
Christina and I were greeted by a lovely young man who showed us our rooms and told us a little about the hotel. A full English or Valais style breakfast is included with each room. We started our afternoon with a glass of wine from the honor bar, and then went out to the terrace to take in the beautiful views of the Alps and the quaint square.
The Hotel de Londres and its staff pay close attention to details, from the homemade granola, (which we watched being made),
to the careful placement of the jams, cheeses, breads, and granola bar, for the morning breakfast.
In addition to the cold meats, cheeses, cold and hot cereal, stewed and fresh fruit, we were also offered a eggs any style. Of yes, and of course cappuccino!
We met our Brig tour guide, Romaine, at the hotel in the late afternoon. Romaine gave us the history of Brig as we walked to Stockalper Palace.
Stockalper Palace was built in the mid to late 17th century by Kaspar Stockalper. The Stockalper family made their money through extensive trading, including a salt monopoly. They built a road over the Simplon Pass, which made trading easier. Since they controlled the road, they controlled the trading as well. It was also used by Napoleon to move his troops across the Alps. The Stockalper family grew to become one of the most influential and wealthy families in the region.
Because of the close proximity to Italy, the palace has a decidedly Italianate feeling, with arches and towers, which reminded me of Venice. Some of the interesting features of the castle are the sinks in the corners of the dining room which allowed the servants to wash up. There was also an unusual heating system. The cylindrical heater was accessed from the hallway. Servants would feed the heaters from outside the rooms which allowed the family and visitors privacy.
Dinner at Brasserie des Cheminots
Located in the Hotel Ambassador in Brig, the Brasserie des Cheminots has a lovely dining room, but since it was a balmy Swiss summer evening, we opted to sit on the patio. Jürg, from Brig-Simplon Tourism, was our delightful dinner companion. We started with an platter of “amuse bouche” which included smoked salmon and a gazpacho shooter. For our starters, I had the Oxtail Soup, Jürg had the goose liver pate and Christina had the seafood soup.
One thing we learned is that Switzerland produces some really delicious wines. We sampled Swiss wines wherever we were. I asked why we don’t see more Swiss wines in the US? The Valais region produces a small amount of wine which they prefer to keep! (Can you blame them?)
My main course was Duck a l’Orange, which was simply heavenly! Christina had Beef Stroganoff which she thoroughly enjoyed. The night was truly lovely and even though it seemed to threaten rain all day. We escaped any downpour and enjoyed a spectacular night sky on our walk home.
One of the main reasons we stayed in Brig was its close proximity to the Aletsch Arena, which I’ll be writing about in my next post. If you’re looking to visit a town that has a small town feel and isn’t over-run with tourists, Brig is a hidden gem in the Swiss Alps!