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Waldhaus Sils-Maria: A review of the Swiss grand hotel

Where modernity meets contemporary history.

22 January 2021

The most famous artist hotel of the Switzerland tells par excellence the story of a grand hotel. And many more, very exciting anecdotes ...

Majestically enthroned above the village of the same name, the "Waldhaus Sils-Maria" looks down on the upper Engadine. Whether due to the picturesque location, the fairytale castle-like format or the winding mountain drive, one is immediately reminded of the Thomas Mann story "The Magic Mountain". And rightly so, as you learn from the hotel manager during the personal welcome, as the author was inspired by this very story. But he is not the only well-known intellectual who has been a guest at the "Waldhaus". The hotel, which opened in 1908 and has been family-run ever since, has been home to many other literary figures such as Hermann Hesse and philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Theodor W. Adorno. The hotel can rightly be called a stronghold of intellect, which is still unparalleled today: Because in addition to the incredible silence and tranquility, time has been preserved here. Of course without renouncing modern comfort: All 141 rooms and suites have been renovated, no two rooms are the same, but they all have one thing in common: a reverence for the past.

The hotel not only houses its own music room, but also has its own orchestra that performs every evening.

A world apart

You could accuse the owners, the Dietrich family, of a penchant for historicism, were it not for the spa, an architectural masterpiece: there, the boundaries between indoors and outdoors become blurred. Light falls through huge shafts into large rooms whose walls reflect the light thanks to crystalline glass mosaics. Nothing distracts you here; you forget the world around you. This is also how German writer Martin Mosebach explains the house, summing up: "The end of the world could happen, and you wouldn't know about it in the, Waldhaus' until a week later, through an unexciting piece of information from the doorman."

Old and new: as if milled into the forest: The spa is a masterpiece of modern architecture.

Best of Hotel Waldhaus Sils-Maria

  • Experience
    Children also get their money's worth here - thanks to a (very!) varied range of activities.
  • Atmosphere
    Simply unbeatable! Nowhere can the world be locked out as beautifully as here.
  • Room
    Tip: 120 and 121.
  • Service
    The excellence already starts with the smooth check-in and the personal welcome by the hotel director. The motto of the house: "You can have almost everything with us - but not necessarily for money."
  • Gastronomy
    Solid, but not spectacular. But the cuisine is consistently committed to regionality and seasonality.
  • Spa
    This architectural masterpiece was designed by the Basel architects Miller & Maranta. Equipped with products by Susanne Kaufmann.


  • History Lessons
    Vintage cars parked in the oven and skiers bobbing down the bathtub: such curiosities can be found in the hotel's own museum. The artist Giuseppe Reichmuth has humorously staged "yesterday" in the former bakery. On display is not only the history of the house, but also that of tourism in Graubünden.
  • Like in the old days
    The hotel not only has its own music room, but also its own orchestra, which plays every evening. In keeping with the style, the concert can be enjoyed with a Negroni in your hand...
  • Contemporary Witnesses
    There are things that can only be found in the "Waldhaus": such as the electric sonnerie (bell system), which can still be seen in the corridors but is no longer in operation.
  • (High) Culture
    Ever since Thomas Mann and others laid their heads in the "Waldhaus", it has regularly been the focus of film and literature. Tip: the documentary on ARTE.

Waldhaus Sils-Maria

Via da Fex 3, 7514 Sils im Engadin, Switzerland
T: +41 81 838 51 00
Double room from € 440,- incl. half board


Picture Credits: Gian Giovanoli/KMU FOTOGRAFIE, akg-images/, Ralph Feiner,, ullstein - ullstein bild/Ullstein Bild/

This article appeared in the Falstaff TRAVEL issue Winter 2020.

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