Ski Resorts in Wengen, Switzerland
Wengen, Switzerland Ski HolidaysCredit: Wikipedia image by Jackph
A favorite among Brits, Wengen has the advantage of being the center link in the Jungfrau chain of resorts, sharing the Kleine Scheidegg and Mannlichen areas with Grindelwald. The journey over to Murren is grueling - one train down to Lauterbrunnen and two more up the other side - but it is much easier than from Grindelwald. The curt main street is lined with shops and hotels, the focal point of a compact village that spreads up and down over the adjoining slopes.
Though most of the runs are on the Grindelwald side of the Kleine Scheidegg-Mannlichen ridge, access is quicker from Wengen. A lot of of the valley trains take on skiers in Wengen, then continue up to Kleine Scheidegg. The Mannlichen cable-car, relocated closer to the village center after it was ruined by avalanches in 1999, is a great deal quicker, though prone to queues during peak times. Wengen caters well for complete beginners, having devoted slopes served by two lifts near the Mannlichen base station, while the gentle return piste from Kleine Scheidegg means they could have the satisfaction of skiing from top to bottom in just a few days.
Wengen's jewel is the men's downhill from the top of the Lauberhorn, the longest and one of the hardest on the World Cup circuit. For holiday skiers it is a red cruiser, with an easy out round the steepest part, which includes the notorious Hundschopf bumps.
The train to Eigergletscher or the Salzegg draglift open up three rolling but mild black pistes, Blackrock, Schwarzen and Oh God, which for sure does not live up to its alarmist name. There are a few serious off-piste runs under the North Face of the Eiger, including the famous White Hare, which begins at Eigerwand. Being very avalanche-prone, they are seldom open and must only be tackled with a guide.
The Hotel Jungfrau at Wengernalp has the best restaurant on all three mountains, with a sophisticated if expensive menu and a sun terrace dominated by the North Face. The Grosse Scheidegg station buffet has excellent food at fair prices, but finding a free table is another story. The Kleine Scheidegg Tipi, on the other side of the track, is popular for its grilled meat, jazz and geniality, rendered by free-flowing booze.
A lot of Wengen's regulars return yearly with no intention of skiing, or even taking any exercise at all. There's an ice rink with curling lanes on the main street and many of the hotels have spas. The 4km toboggan run starts at Wengernalp. If you prefer to get higher, tandem paragliding flights set off from Mannlichen for the 1,000m descent to Wengen.
Many of the restaurants are inside hotels. The Hotel Regina is top of the league, with the most interesting menu in town and a pudding buffet to die for. The Stube in the Eiger Hotel provides decent French cooking in relaxed surroundings, while the Hirschen specialises in fondue chinoise. Sample the fish at the Berghaus and cheese fondue at the Bernerhof. The best budget option is pizza in Sina's.
Wengen can be more amusing than you may expect. Start the moment you dismount the train with the tiny Eiger Bar, an institution among British visitors. The Tanne is another user-friendly watering hole, while Hot Chilli Peppers is Wengen's gesture to a funkier lifestyle. Sina's features live music. Tiffanys disco in the Silberhorn and the Carousel at the Regina are often heaving after midnight.
Wengen specialises in comfy Victorian hotels with ancient plumbing. The handsome Regina has upped the ante by renovating both its dodgy pipes and the dreary decor in its bathrooms. The chalet-style Caprice and the central Silberhorn are its primary rivals in the four-star category. The Beau Site Park is the grandest option, with a good spa but a poor
location. Britain's favourite three-stars are the Alpenrose and the Eiger but many look no further than the Falken, Wengen's very own Fawlty Towers.