The Swiss alps: sparkling snow, majestic peaks, fur on everything from your underpants out, powder up to here, and all the Toblerone and melted cheese you can eat. What’s not to like? Gstaad, the heart of this wonderland, is a magic playground where the hassles of everyday life melt away like whipped cream in hot chocolate. The local hotels do everything they can to live up to the fantasy, offering an orgy of glamorous cosiness, with just the right amount of stylish sport.
Architecturally, there are two main inspirations, the mountain lodge and the fairytale castle: on the one hand, bare wood, balconies and fur, and on the other, classic luxury - metallics, marble, leather and even more fur. But since everyone draws on the same inspiration, the hotels are often predictable, impersonal and hard to tell apart.
The owners of HUUS Hotel wanted a competitive hotel in a tough market, a hotel that outlasted trends and fads, and they knew that the key to creating an extraordinary experience is to start with a strong concept.
“We had one fundamental insight that became the basis of the whole hotel,” says Stylt Trampoli’s founder and creative director, Erik Nissen Johansen. “We realised that nobody comes to the Alps to see the inside of a hotel, no matter how luxurious or how carefully designed. You come to the Alps to see the Alps! So we created a hotel that is all about getting you out of the hotel, and into the great outdoors.”
The first thing Stylt Trampoli did was to tear down inner walls and open up windows. Now there is a view of the mountains everywhere you look - even in the bathroom. And the mountains literally come inside the hotel - the reception counter is made from a huge piece of shimmering grey alp, carefully selected from a nearby stream.
It’s not just a gimmick, either - the hotel has its own mountain concierge, and there are packages with everything from skiing and climbing to snowshoeing and whitewater rafting, that make the outdoors accessible to anyone. Every room comes with a backpack, binoculars and a water bottle, so every guest is equipped to go out and experience nature.
The interiors are warm, welcoming and - compared to all the glitzy Gstaad neighbours - unpretentious. “We wanted to create a living room for all of Gstaad,” says Erik Nissen Johansen. “A welcoming place with low thresholds, where everyone is welcome, locals and visitors, old and young, summer and winter.” The interior design uses natural, authentic materials with lots of tactile appeal, like wood, stone and wool, and a muted colour scheme, carefully selected to harmonize with the landscape outside the windows.
The hotel’s combination of adventure and comfort seems to be a hit - the hotel has been fully booked since the day it opened and after just a few weeks it had appeared in media from vogue.com to Bloomberg and Chinese television. And Stylt Trampoli have already started up new projects in the area, including another hotel just a few minutes away.
“HUUS is getting a bohemian little sister,” reveals Erik Nissen Johansen. “This hotel will be completely different - the adventure will be inside, as well as outside.”
Stylt Trampoli is an award-winning concept- and design agency with clients and projects all around the world. Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, the agency consists of architects, art directors, designers, marketers and branding experts, working closely together on projects for the experience and hospitality industry.