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Stories from Gletsch

Queen Victoria and other guests

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- Story 14

Some members of the English upper class and representatives of the European aristocracy have signed the guest book of the Grandhotel Glacier du Rhône (in bold script). Some members of the English upper class and later one or two members of the European aristocracy signed the guest book in curved script. The hotel's recipe for success was a high-quality offer against a spectacular glacier backdrop.

Gletsch was traditionally a stopover and it is estimated that 95% of guests only stayed one or two nights at the Grand Hotel. In 1868, Queen Victoria visited Gletsch and was served tea at the foot of the glacier tongue. The Queen was accompanied by three of her nine children. A servant and a personal physician were also present, as well as two local maids and a Swiss guide. Although she was modestly dressed in black and traveling incognito as the Countess of Kent, her entourage was hard to miss. Her luggage was probably extensive, considering that her own bed was also transported. She spent the night on the Furka in the hotel of the same name, which she took all to herself for three days.

She had undertaken the trip in memory of her deceased husband and, like him, was enthusiastic about Switzerland. The trip relieved her of her melancholy. The powerful monarch's reports presumably prompted many members of her extensive family and the entire European nobility to emulate her. She was thus an early influencer of sorts when it came to tourism in Switzerland.


Gletsch benefited from such reports. Central to its success, however, was of course the high quality and refined style that characterized the Grandhotel Glacier du Rhône every summer over the decades until 1984.


However, Gletsch also always offered simple travelers catering and overnight accommodation. From the 1950s onwards, pleasure trips became more and more popular with a broader section of the population and the demands of guests in Gletsch changed accordingly.


In 1966, two-week vacations were made compulsory in Switzerland at federal level. At the same time, people were traveling faster and faster. In the past, a stop on an arduous journey was combined with an overnight stay, but now all that remained was a quick lunch, an ice cream or a drink.

The offer was adapted. In addition to the Grand Hotel's restaurant, there was a simpler restaurant, such as a snack bar in the 1960s and a terrace with drinks service, where you could hope to see James Bond speeding past in his Aston Martin at any moment.

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