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Where to stay Christmas Day with Family

Our family of 4 (2 teenage boys) are arriving from US into Zürich Xmas am and need to find one nights stay. We will have a car are hoping to head to a mountain hotel that has a festive atmosphere with nice dinner etc so the boys don’t feel disappointed that they are missing their first Christmas away from home. After this we have booked 5 nights in Lucerne at an Airbnb and will take day trips including a day skiing, so any suggestions there are also welcome. However, my main concern now is securing a place to stay for Christmas Day that is special. I was thinking the mountains because not much would be open in the cities and the views would be amazingly special. We would need either a family room with multiple beds or two rooms as our boys are 15 and 17. I did hear of a the Hotel Gloria which sounds great but I have not heard back from them? Any suggestions are appreciated. Thank you Sandy from NJ

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arriving from US into Zürich Xmas am

Do you mean you are arriving on the 25th December? This is a dead day, Public Holiday and most places will be closed. It is also the END of Christmas. The big Christmas Meal is on the evening of the 24th. Christmas markets close on the 23rd or 24th. You will be missing the best of Christmas, 25th is a recovery day after the Christmas festivities.

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Yes unfortunately our family is arriving Christmas morning because we are using frequent flyer miles and it’s the only way we are able to pay for a trip to Switzerland for our college bound kids!!! I’m just happy to get there at all. I know the zoo is open! Is that anything special on Christmas Day? It could be a possible idea along with walking around Zurich and the shops in the train station which may be open? Although not my ideal. If so does anyone have a hotel in Zurich that would be good for a family and a restaurant in Zurich that they would suggest? Budget wise something nice but not a fortune...but since it’s Christmas I’d be willing to go for it if it’s special. However I’d still prefer a drive to a local place that had a tree set up and a warm environment with a local feel and beautiful setting. In the mountains. I’m open!!! Thanks so much!

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8889 posts

Sandy, I would try for a hotel in Luzern instead of Zürich. You can then go straight from the airport to Luzern, skip Zürich. As a tourist town it would be more likely to have places open.
I would try and find a hotel quickly, they may be filling up fast. Luzern tourist website is: http://www.luzern.com/en/

It is only 70 minutes by train direct from Zürich airport to Luzern. Swiss railways are one of the few things that will be operating normally on 25th December. It will be the standard Sunday timetable.

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16894 posts

I have not been to Switzerland during the holidays but, for general purposes, I like the cute town of Appenzell, near the lift to [Ebenalp]. A couple of their higher-end hotels are open and available, at a minimum. However, this town is a 1.5-hour drive from the airport, in the opposite direction from your next destination of Lucerne.

Closer to Lucerne but still a 1.5-hour drive from the airport, booking.com shows some availability around Engelberg, below the lift to Mt. Titlis. I don't believe it has much architectural charm.

The mountain-top hotels on Pilatus and Rigi appear not to be open or available.

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1000 posts

However I’d still prefer a drive to a local place that had a tree set up and a warm environment with a local feel and beautiful setting. In the mountains. I’m open!!! Thanks so much!

Have you any experience of driving in Alpine conditions winter, are you familiar with snow chains etc... ? If not then a car is probably not a great choice.

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Thank you all for the input! I’ve decided to stay in Appenzell at the hotel Hecht. They even have a four room suite left including a great breakfast for $320 not bad considering the great reviews. The town looks quaint, early check in and the owners will take good personal care of us. They even serve homemade ice cream which our family loves...bonus! Also great views of the Alps and we can drive right there easily. Perfect. In terms of driving in the winter we are very used to it and also rented an SUV but perhaps I should rent the chains for the tires, which I didn’t opt for as of yet....any input on this? I didn’t think it was needed for driving around but maybe we should have them!
Now if anyone knows Appenzell and can suggest a Christmas dinner restaurant or we can stay at the hotel that’s fine.

Also then we head to Luzern for the five days and one day skiing, the rest with a car, free to see the alps and anything. Open to any input! Thank you all so much! Great advice that I readily accepted as you can see. Booked the hotel Hecht! Sandy

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8889 posts

Sandy, an SUV is a big vehicle. It will not fit in many parking spaces.

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Hi Chris. Thanks so much again for your help! I had reserved an intermediate SUV, a Jeep Compass or similar. I can get something smaller but I thought the SUV would be better for the roads. What do you think? Also, Do you think I should rent the optional tire chains? I think it is around $20 per day. Thank you, Sandy

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4 posts

Hi Sandy,
I don't think you will be disappointed with your choice of Appenzell - it's lovely! Mu husband and I live about an hour's drive away and we love visiting the area, whatever the time of year! It's true that the Swiss Christmas will effectively be over once you arrive, however it's still very much the festive season of course and Appenzell looks gorgeous in Winter - there may very well be snow, as you no doubt realise, and if so it's absolutely picturebook pretty! I looked at your chosen hotel online and I can see that it's very centrally positioned, so you will easily be able to walk out of the front door and explore the very charming little town on foot. Personally I wouldn't worry too much about snowchains as you will be travelling on main roads and the Swiss have extremely good systems for clearing the main roads if snow falls. We had friends to stay with us over last New Year and drove out to Appenzell in pretty heavy snow, but all the main roads were clear and there was no need for snow chains - in my experience it's only really if you want to venture "off-piste" as in the small country roads or up a steep mountain road that you might hit a problem, but only then in very heavy snow.
Regarding dinner, my guess is that you will be spoilt for choice but don't faint when you see the prices! Eating out in Switzerland can be very expensive but the quality is generally very good! I note that the partner hotel to the Hecht is the Hotel Saentis, which is part of the Romantik Hotel Group and is reckoned to be the best hotel in Appenzell, so if you really wanted something special you could try that for dinner..but the Hecht is in the same ownership so I am sure the food there is very good too! You could always try a traditional Swiss fondue served in a traditional Swiss town to complete the whole swiss experience..or the other great favourite here in winter months is Raclette, where you grill your own cheese and pour it over potatoes..simple but delicious! Appenzell is famous for it's cheese so be sure to try some while you're there.
I am pretty sure you and your family will be entranced by the area -but I'll leave it there and wish you a great trip and by all means contact me again if you have any further questions. Hope my advice is of some help.

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Hello Sue,
Thank you so much for the very inspiring response. I am so excited now to go to Appenzell. I do have another question if I may. I did look at the lovely dinner at the partner hotel but I am hesitant as I think it will be extremely pricey for our budget and I think my family would be very happy with a traditional Swiss meal of fondue or raclette, especially since it is our first night there and we love cheese, bread and potatoes. Could you or anyone suggest a restaurant in the Appenzell area on Christmas for dinner that would offer this?

Thank you so much again! Once I secure this I will feel more at ease. It’s just that it’s Christmas and we arrive that day. We only are in Appenzell two full days and one night and then we stay the remaining the five nights in Lucerne, open to any ideas. It’s going to be lovely. Thank you again. Sandy

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Hi again Sandy! From what I can see, most of the shops in Appenzell are closed on Dec 25th when you arrive, but they reopen Dec 26th so you will be able to browse some of the little tourist shops if you wish! Regarding restaurants, none of the ones I have checked on the internet have got Christmas opening hours yet, so I advise you to write to the Appenzell tourist information office - email address is [email protected] and explain the situation to them and ask if there is a restaurant open December 25th which serves fondue or raclette and if they can make a reservation for you for the evening.Failing that, I would contact Hotel Hecht direct and ask them if it is possible to order either fondue or raclette for the four of you for the evening..if not, they can hopefully recommend somewhere else which is open.
If all else fails, contact me again and I’ll try to help!!

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7 posts

Dear Sue,
That is so kind of you and such helpful information! The Hotel Hecht does not serve dinner but I will contact the tourist center and they should be able to help. You have been so helpful. Thank you and I will let you know what I hear.
Regards,
Sandy

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50 posts

Unfortunately December 26 is also a holiday (St. Stephen's day), so not many stores will be open in Appenzell or Luzern.

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Thank you for letting me know about the stores being closed the day after Christmas. It is fine. We will walk around Appenzell and enjoy the beautiful town and hopefully see some cows, which I love! I did read about the Appenzeller Schaukaserei or Dairy and that sounds amazing to see. It’s where the cheese is made. It’s probably closed though. Thank you for letting me know though about the stores. Sandy

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392 posts

Hi Sandy
Based on the website, I think the Schaukäserei is open on the 26th. You could email them to make sure, but it only mentions being closed on the 25th. They also have a restaurant.
https://www.schaukaeserei.ch/en/kontakt
Unfortunately the Folk Museum is closed on the 25 + 26th.

Hope the tourist office can give some good info re your Christmas Day dinner. I am sure they will know which places in the area are open.