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Hotel Stechelberg?

I heard a disturbing rumor recently that RS tours would no longer be staying at the Hotel Stechelberg on its Switzerland tours. We stayed there on our 21 Day BOE some years ago, and loved it. It's in a beautiful, peaceful setting, on a small farmstead at the top of a lovely, walkable valley. DH wants to do the BOE again in 2018, when we will be celebrating a milestone anniversary, and we were really looking forward to revisiting this beautiful place.

The story I heard was that too many people were objecting to having to share bathrooms. Could this be true? I know the question of sharing bathrooms has come up on this forum repeatedly, but I am still puzzled by it. As someone on a recent tour asked "Didn't these people have brothers and sisters?"

So please, RSE, say it isn't so.

Posted by
936 posts

Jane - I thought it was a lovely area to stay with the beautiful walkway along the creek and so convenient to the lift up to Schilthorn. We shared a bath - didn't mind it a bit, and no one was ever clamoring for the door. Our bedroom was large and we loved having a balcony. It would be a shame to drop the hotel simply because of shared baths.

Posted by
4573 posts

Nance, I'm remembering that beautiful path, as well. You can walk all the way down to Lauterbrunnen, where there's a nice place for lunch, or detour to visit Trummelbach Falls. I remember noting in the tour review that that was one of the most romantic walks ever.

Posted by
936 posts

Jane - it really was charming. We had the path to ourselves almost the whole day. We met only two other travelers and there were nice areas one could sit near the stream or the cows! Switzerland is the most beautiful place I have even been.

Posted by
796 posts

I wouldn't be surprised if people were complaining about having to share bathrooms. This is one of the reasons why my husband and I who love Rick's books, videos, etc don't take his tours- the possibility of shared bathrooms- along with the fact that he says you are expected to haul luggage up and down streets, up and down stairs, and that the places likely don't have elevators or air conditioning. We'd never stay anywhere under those circumstances. As for having brothers and sisters, there is a huge difference in sharing bathrooms with the other children in your own family in your own home and in sharing a bathroom with adult strangers in a cheap hotel. I don't blame those people from complaining. If you really want to stay there, why not book a few day there before or after your BOE tour?

Posted by
372 posts

I also loved staying at the Hotel Stechelberg. Yes, we did share a bathroom - what a great trade-off to be at the very end of the valley, in a gorgeous setting. Over the years it seems like the tours have been changing - I love the mom and pop places, the oddities of staircases and nooks and crannies where the rooms are, multiple flights of stairs to your room in the loft - that is all part of the charm of going on a Rick Steves Tour. Not the cookie cutter stuff. It seems like people think that the "Physical Demands" section of the tour description is thought of as maybe happening - not that it will. I've always thought that these caveats have helped to keep the "no grumps" policy in force. Please, Rick Steves tour mates roll with the punches and keep these tours as "Back Door" tours and not mainstream tours.

Posted by
902 posts

I have been on RS tours and have stayed at this hotel years ago. If it's the hotel I'm remembering, it had a great high ceiling breakfast room with a fantastic view.
People who read the tour descriptions up front know that there may be hotels where bathrooms are shared for one or two nights. So then they complain? If sharing a bathroom every now and then saves $$ and fellow travelers are fairly neat and not taking all day in the shower or tub a lot of us don't mind the minor inconvenience.
And, Terri, from my experience not many hotels on the RS circuit nowadays are "cheap." Probably more old-style on the longer tours, but still not like it was years back.

Posted by
8203 posts

Well, I will admit to being one who complained about sharing a bathroom. I dont mind sharing a shower but I don't like to have to get somewhat dressed to go to the bathrom during the night. I pack light and my sleepwear is not somehing I would go out in a hall wearing. I did know ahead of time this stop would be a shared bathroom as I checked Trip Advisor and the hotel website which indicated the single rooms were all shared bath situations. I was traveling for 8 weeks so I didnt really want to pack heavier pjs for 2 nights.

The location was awesome.

Eight people (6 women/2men) sharing 1 shower, 1 mens toilet and 1 ladies toilet was not.

It does not bother me at all to manage my own luggage

Posted by
651 posts

Just walking the paths in the Lauterbrunnen Valley in one of my all-time favorite experiences in Europe. What a peaceful place.

I haven't stayed at the Hotel Stechelberg, but would have no problems sharing a bathroom for 1-2 nights. I can only recall one time where I've shared a bathroom on my eight RS tours (Aeroskobing). Definitely worth it considering the charm and character of the B&B.

Posted by
4573 posts

Different strokes. I guess this is why there are so many tour companies with different philosophies.

In our 10 RS tours, we've only had to share a bathroom once, at the Stechelberg. We (DH an I) shared a wing with three other rooms, each of which had one (non-RS) traveler. We were all clean and respectful. I can see that nightwear might be an issue. My usual sleepwear is a t-shirt and baggy pants. Not very sexy, but comfy and modest.

Posted by
3117 posts

RS tours are not inexpensive - - the BOE runs around $5000/pp, $10,000 for a couple! At that cost, I would expect a room with private bath. We are dedicated independent travelers. We've only once done a tour, to Turkey. As soon as I saw that the RS offering for that country didn't guarantee rooms with private baths, I looked elsewhere.

I grew up sharing a bathroom with brother, parents, and grandfather. Our first house had just one, as well. Four people; one bath. You know what? I can tolerate it, but I would never spend a lot of money and have to do it. To those who don't mind, have a great trip.

Posted by
6699 posts

RS tours are not inexpensive - - the BOE runs around $5000/pp, $10,000 for a couple!
That is potentially the most expensive tour outside of Scandinavia - there are plenty of less expensive ones - Turkey is a prime example. The Bulgaria tour has folks staying in a fairly rustic monastery (Rila). I'm sure hard "beds" and monastic conditions are just part of the deal (yet it still seems to be one of the highlights of the trip). Bathroom or even room sharing is not a deal breaker for me - the experience of travel to a particular place can warrant less-than-perfect comfort. I'm an only child, but don't mind sharing.

On the other hand, I freely admit there are less expensive tours with other companies (which have more like 40 participants) where the hotels are all 4-5 star business types and you never have to carry any luggage...but frankly, that's not worth it to me...I'd rather have smaller groups and less nice hotels.

Posted by
366 posts

I have just finished my 8th RS tour. I have been to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Italy and France and never once had to share a bathroom unless I had a roommate on the tour. Each room had its own bathroom. On my last tour Best of Switzerland, all the hotels had elevators. Only two had AC. However, as I understand it AC is not all the common in Europe.

When I sign up for an RS tour I know that I may have to carry my suitcase up a flight or two, ok in one case 4, of stairs, but that just encourages me to pack light. The wonderful small hotels that the tours stay in more than make up for the stairs and maybe a shared bathroom.

Posted by
902 posts

I went back and looked at pics, and the year we did the GAS tour it was Hotel Staubbach not Stechelberg!

Posted by
651 posts

Seriously, if sharing a bathroom for 1-2 nights in an otherwise very cool hotel on a two-week tour is unacceptable to you, then you should look elsewhere. My guess is that won't be the only thing you won't like. Just my $0.02.

Lots of "50 people on a 50 seat bus" tours out there where you won't share a bathroom. You will also be staying in Mestre.

Posted by
5636 posts

My husband and I travel independently, choosing our own hotels -- and I sometimes choose hotels with shared bathrooms without feeling that our travel experience has been irreparably compromised. As long as the WI-FI works...

Posted by
8203 posts

Oh, to be clear, I would go on the 21BOE again in a heartbeat even if I had to stay at the Hotel Stechelberg. I took that tour in 2014 and still think about it and my tour companions every. single. day. I've taken 7 RS tours, signed up for #8 (GAS) but I am not sure anything will ever compare to that BOE experience. The full day in Switzerland was the best day ever. What fun! One of the many reasons I signed up for GAS is that there are 3!! nights in Muerren.

However, if it is my choice to stay in a shared bath vs private bath, I will choose private every time whether it is Europe or Yellowstone, lol!

Posted by
4573 posts

Pam, I agree. I'm willing to share a bath, but I do admit I enjoy having a private bath. So having a private bath is a luxury for me, rather than a necessity.

I would still like to stay at Stechelberg when we do the BOE again. I'm surprised no RSE staffer has chimed in yet.

Posted by
16852 posts

Jane, as I understand it, the Hotel Stechelberg is expected to be phased out of the 21-day BOE after 2017 but that's not set in stone. There are certainly folks here who love the place, as you did. FYI, other tour itineraries stay in other parts of the valley, since we have more departures than any one location can handle. And even within one tour route, it's common for the hotel list to vary by departure.

As far as I know, the only other RS Tour stops with some shared hotel bathrooms are in Aeroskobing, Denmark and at Bulgaria's Rila Monastery, both very special locations where the benefits easily out-weigh the trade-offs.

Posted by
4573 posts

Thanks, Laura. We did love that stop on the BOE tour, and were hoping to stay there again. Remember the fresh eggs from their "happy hens?" Maybe we'll get to stay at another hotel in that beautiful valley.

Posted by
697 posts

We loved Hotel Stechelberg. At first I didn't relish the idea of sharing a bathroom but it really wasn't a big deal....of course, our shared bath serviced us and another couple. At that point in the trip we were all pretty much "family" so it was never an issue.

Of course, given the choice, I would choose NOT to share. The location of the hotel was perfect and we have very fond memories of sitting in the area outside of the hotel sharing wine with our tour mates and I agree....that valley walk was spectacular!

Posted by
1266 posts

We were there last week and had to share with one other room. That room was empty so we lucked out. We traveled with 5 other people and one couple had a problem getting time in the bathroom. I guess that could be a problem if those sharing took their sweet time! You know the type.

Posted by
7205 posts

I think not having RS Tours staying there anymore might actually be a PLUS for Hotel Stechelberg as well as future guests. This whole area is full of Americans (including me), and sometimes I'm just astonished at the way some of them behave.