Reminiscing about the empty hotel in Gruyeres

I’m so glad I write travel diaries. This was a strange adventure that happened to me before I began writing this blog and it seemed good enough to tell the story, nearly 8 years later. It was the beginning of my conscious decision to take up walking in the mountains more seriously, so I booked on a walking trip in Switzerland. They booked me in the varied accommodations and sent me a route to follow each day, my luggage was transferred from one accommodation to the next. Simple. And mostly it was, although I wasn’t very fit, and it was terribly hot, 30s at the end of June and I don’t do hot. It had been very hot in London before I left and then I stupidly managed to get sunburnt on my first day in Switzerland.


Trudged up steps to old church and finally reached the Hotel de Ville. I keep arriving at nice, clean hotels wet with sweat and greasy with factor 50 and usually fairly dusty and dirty to boot. Gruyeres was quite busy and bustling on arrival, it is touristy on quite a small scale – the bars shut early, it gets dark early and people go to bed early and get up early. I had the usual long shower and then a lie down, and watched Lindsay Davenport playing at Wimbledon.

I had my dinner sitting outside near to the hotel and talked to some American women. I then went for a little walk in the cool of the evening. I returned to the room and found a new use for the Gideon bible as a window wedge to let some more air in. As I was still so hot I decided to take a day off the schedule the next day.

The town had shut down as soon as it was dark around 9pm. At about 11pm I was feeling very thirsty. I left the room to get a cold drink only to come across a man in a very neat cream coloured business suit who asked me for a room! I explained that I was just a guest and that I was looking for a drink. There were no staff in the hotel at all! I tried to help him to get a room but there was no-one in the hotel to give him a key. He decided to go off and try the brightly lit hotel on the edge of the village.

I still desperately needed water. I found a big kitchen with lots of fridges and helped myself to 2 bottles of water and a beer. I went back to my room and heard someone walking about, I heard a loo flushing too so this at least meant there was one other person on the premises.

The next day I met the other guest, a Japanese woman who also thought it was all most odd. It’s not as if anything terrible happened but it’s the what ifs. What if I’d locked myself out of my room. And what about the poor man who just wanted his room that he’d booked.

Now that I’ve written it, it doesn’t seem so weird but it was at the time!

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