Architecture

The Waldhaus holds a prominent position within Swiss hotel architecture. ICOMOS Switzerland, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, named it Swiss “Historic Hotel of the Year” in 2005. In 2015, it received a special anniversary prize “20 years of Historic Hotels of the Year”. The Waldhaus is not the largest nor the fanciest hotel in Switzerland, and its architecture, reflecting the efforts of – by now – five generations eager above all else to have it work well for its guests, may irritate the purists. Yet there are few hotels with such allure. What makes the Waldhaus stand out in a class of its own?

Josef Giger, owner and founder of the Waldhaus, which he opened in 1908, had engaged Karl Koller, one of the leading hotel architects of the time, to build something “beautiful, practical and solid”. Having managed grand hotels for decades, Giger had clear ideas of what the Waldhaus should be. His perfectionism in all business decisions, from choosing the location to rules for chambermaids, is legendary.

The Waldhaus projects the image of a fortress on a hill. Set away from famous St. Moritz, its location in Sils Maria and its aesthetics are a grand symbolic gesture full of restrained beauty and elegance.

Later generations at the Waldhaus, which has been owned by the same family since it was built, have always been respectful of its historical values and have enlisted knowledgeable architects to ensure that the old does not get lost in the new designs. Very few other hotels in Europe can claim a place of their own in cultural history.

  • Builders and owners: Josef and Amalie Giger-Nigg
  • Architect: Karl Koller
  • Construction period: 1905–1908
  • Opened: June 15, 1908
  • Cost: CHF 2,200,000

Time travel

We invite you to take a look at a few select places and details of the Waldhaus.

First, there are the façades. They have a distinct sobriety as Giger had consciously turned away from the Belle Époque’s wealth of forms in 1908.

You enter the Waldhaus via the main entrance with its airy fan-like canopy and are personally greeted by a member of the family, whether you are famous in the world at large or not. The hotel entrance was changed in 1924 and 1967, and took on its current form in 2003.

When you come in, your attention is immediately drawn to the great lounge. We are very protective of its atmosphere of a true, relaxed living room which it has always had.

A 1959 Camenzind chandelier adds to the atmosphere in the Wedding Room. To get to this room, you pass through the Empire Room, one of the best-preserved salons at the hotel.

To the right of the great lounge, you will find the bar, which until 1929 had held the reading room and library. Significant components from 1908 were expertly reincorporated during the 1999/2000 restoration. Behind the bar, our current reading room also contains 1908 furnishings.

Let’s go up to the guestrooms. Our central stairs form one of the most valuable Belle Époque staircases in a Swiss hotel. The artfully simple corridors, which were restored to their 1908 form in 2005, form an intact architectural ensemble.

22 of our 140 guestrooms have been restored with original 1908 furnishings, three of them even have period bathrooms.

Our indoor pool dates from 1970 and was designed by an important Swiss ‘classical modernist’, Otto Glaus.

In 1986, we rebuilt the 1908 chapel and expanded it to 60 seats: a peaceful retreat for our guests and staff.

Marvel at the 1908 and 2016 layouts of our premises, the latter already including our latest major project, the Waldhaus Spa.

We change, but we remain who we always were.

Literature: Roland Flückiger-Seiler: Hotel Waldhaus Sils-Maria. Available at the Waldhaus.

Architects

  • Duri Barblan
  • Alberto Camenzind
  • Otto Glaus Arch. – Bauleitung: Renato De Pellegrini
  • Ferdinand Pfammatter
  • Pedro A. Casada/ Charles Lüthi
  • Miller & Maranta
  • Armando Ruinelli