Design in Adelboden ...

One feature I read described Adelboden as 'pristine' - not quite the choice of word I would have gone for. A collection of tumbledown Alpine chalets and sleepy shops at the top of a steep valley in the Bernese Oberland, it sits in a leafy basin of traditional farmland. It is so much more than pristine. It seems unspoilt by tourism and has so far escaped the Alpine skyscrapers that have swamped so many resorts. The powerful Engstligen Falls tumble down 600-metres on the northern valley slope - they are Switzerland's second longest waterfall - and provide a superb focus for any photo.

When Tim and I arrived on Saturday, the falls were drifting in and out of focus behind the foggy soup clouding the village. As the afternoon progressed, the skies began to clear and, by the time evening sunshine had laid out its syrupy cloak, we were able to enjoy Adelboden in all its glory. From our south-facing room in the Welsh-owned The Cambrian we gazed over the pistachio pastures, dotted with vivid greenery, and couldn't take our eyes off the waterfall. We moseyed down to the Spa and gazed some more from the outdoor pool, which is small but boasts an unspoilt panorama of the valley. The hotel is in a wonderful position. A chic haven of style and design on the southern valley slope, it stands in stark contrast to its neighbouring buildings but has paid homage to its surroundings. In our room, there were two locally-produced cow hide chairs and an earthy colour scheme. This was offset by modern artwork from a gallery in Cardiff. A thoughtful touch was a DVD player, with a long list of DVDs to rent from reception - first sign that this is a place you come to relax (and perfect for a night in watching classic James Bond). More on that later.

In the meantime, we took part in a yoga class on the hotel's terrace and then dined out. We walked over a bridge high above the gushing river and meandered between farm houses to the Bodehuttli. A lovely wooden Gasthaus, it serves delicious, homemade pizzas. As we chomped greedily, we gazed out of the window onto beautifully manicured gardens filled with colourful flowers - such a pretty scene against the wilderness of the mountains.

We awoke early on Sunday morning to sunbeams and a Nordic walk up to the Alpine herb garden. After a steep walk uphill through pastures chiming with cow bells, we reached a meadow laid out with various herbs and flowers used in the Alps, each with a little label. I could have spent hours smelling all the wonderful scents and admiring the perfect little shapes. But a stiff mist was gathering around us and, by the time we returned to the hotel, Adelboden and its mountains had all but disappeared. Tim went for a foot massage - a birthday treat - and by the time he returned, it was raining. It didn't stop us going for a wet walk through the forest with a nice couple we met on the Nordic walk and returning, damp and cold, to the cosy 'Tea Time' in the hotel's Winter Garden. The room has floor-to-ceiling windows - it was remarkable how lovely the scene of unerring grey outside looked (at least from the warmth of the great indoors).

The steam rising from the outdoor pool was so tempting that we spent even more time in the spa. I opted for lengths indoors, under a panel lit up like the night's sky. Making our way to dinner in the hotel that night, we came across idiosyncratic touches such as a grand piano painted like a Friesian cow. The menu was modern Alpine and I went for a summer salad followed by local Perch fillet served with vegetables and roast potatoes, finishing with peach in chocolate sauce. It was all very tasty and the sun even treated us to an evening performance. Apparently visitors come to the hotel in their droves in November, to escape the grey Swiss lowlands, and, if they leave the hotel at all, leave only for a couple of hours. I can understand why. It was such a comfortable space to be in - slick yet unpretentious, with friendly staff and interesting touches to entertain the mind. And, of course, there is that panorama it boasts over Adelboden, its mountains and its stunning waterfall.
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