Words by Carly Glendinning
From hiking to mountain biking, Absolutely Mama finds out why Switzerland with kids is a good idea
A favourite destination for adventurers, you’d be forgiven if the Swiss Alps doesn’t immediately spring to mind when you think ‘family holiday’. We escaped to the pretty village of Flims, to discover why Switzerland with kids is a good idea…
We had arrived at The Hide Hotel at nightfall, after a long winding drive up into the Glarus Alps, finally reaching the little town of Flims. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for the Rhine Gorge (otherwise known as the ‘Swiss Grand Canyon’) and Lake Caumasee, so we had expected panoramic views. But nothing ever quite prepares you for that moment when you open the curtains after waking up in a strange new place, known for its scenery.
The curtains in question were heavy black velvet and hung floor to ceiling – making the big reveal all the more dramatic, like unveiling some sort of magnificent work of art. The 47 rooms at The Hide Hotel are all on the top floor and guests can choose between a north or south-facing view. Our ‘penthouse’ looked out onto the sweeping valley, the crystal geode-like mountain-scape tearing through the sky above.
We donned our fluffy white bathrobes, fired up the Nespresso coffee machine, made some edelweiss tea, and stepped out onto our terrace. I could have happily sat there for the whole weekend and watched as wispy clouds floated past the rocky edifice, breathing in the famously pure alps air and soaking up the scene before us. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere quite as peaceful, the silence only punctuated by a church bell ringing out across the tiny toy-like buildings in town below.
I’m sure I must accredit some of the quiet to the time of year. Flims is a popular ski destination, and whilst I have no doubt that it would be a magical snowy getaway, it is quite something to visit in summer. With 250km of trails to explore, the flocks of winter sports enthusiasts had been replaced with families of hikers and mountain-bikers. The town seemed busy, but the hotel didn’t feel one bit overrun.
Part of the Stenna Flims Complex, The Hide has been awarded prestigious Design Hotels status and the interior is a modern, cosy, and inviting interpretation of an Alpine retreat. Dressed by Norweigan visionary and artist Erik Nissen Johansen, the rooms are luxurious – a bold statement in colour, texture, and mood. Ours had a mosaic-like marquetry feature wall (a jagged patchwork of different woods), providing a dramatic backdrop for the Hästens bed. The furniture read like a who’s who of buzz designers – pulling together a rich scheme of glass, raw stone, sleek metal, wicker, and swathes of velvet.
Breakfast is served each morning in the hotel’s main restaurant on the first floor. Continental buffet-style, there’s something for everyone – whether you favour eggs and bacon or gluten free muesli and almond milk. On our first morning, guests gathered on the green velvet banquettes – filling up ready for an action-packed day ahead.
From the hotel, you can walk straight out to the ski lift, which will carry you up into the rocky landscape. Not afraid of a bit of a climb, we decided to scale the terrain on foot, following the meandering paths up and up. It was lush and grassy, with flowers tumbling everywhere and the hum of crickets on the breeze. Families with Fjallraven backpacks in every colour rolled past us on bikes and we spotted a hiker or two carrying a baby sling. The views, of course, are totally spectacular. For hikers of the more serious variety, there’s an onsite mountain concierge ready to facilitate any equipment rentals, activity planning, and to provide insight of the far-reaching area and the best places to see.
However, if your little ones aren’t up to the climb, The Hide has partnered with Kindercity, an expansive play and learning centre in the Stenna Flims Complex. It’s a play paradise, boasting a chocolate and bread workshop, science experiences, a dino factory, robot laboratory, and a driving school, all under professional supervision. Guests of the hotel (little and large) get unlimited free access.
Flims itself is a pretty village, lined with traditional wooden shuttered houses and there are some great boutiques and gift shops to explore. We ate at The Deli, which is downstairs at the hotel. It has a relaxed atmosphere, much like the food. We ordered modern mezze-style dishes, of which there were plenty of vegan-friendly options. We also had a drink in the hotel’s buzzing bar (which has a cinema downstairs) and curled up in the lounge area, complete with crackling fire, snug library and deep velvet sofas made for sinking into.
We left feeling utterly refreshed. Full of mountain air and dewy-skinned from the sunshine and time spent in the spa. Even if you’re not a biker or a hiker, there’s plenty of things to do in Switzerland with kids in the summer, and if nothing else The Hide is the perfect place to just watch the clouds roll right on by.
If you’re travelling to Switzerland with kids, here’s where we stayed:
The Hide Hotel, Flims