Aescher: Historic Swiss Hermitage Turned Alpine Inn Adventure

In the 1600s, a Swiss priest converted an alpine cave into a chapel and hermitage. For centuries, pilgrims traveled to attend church in one of Europe‘s most rustic chapels. After the last hermit died in the mid-1800s, the hermitage was converted into an inn known as Berggasthaus Aescher Wildkirchli that offered food and lodging to farmers and hikers.

These days, Berggasthaus Aescher Wildkirchli is known simply as Aescher. The rustic 19th century exterior of Aescher remains unchanged, but the interior features newly renovated guest rooms that offer hikers simple yet cozy accommodations. There is even a small, austere Hermit Lodge that is adjacent to Aescher that is furnished with nothing but a folding table, chair, and double bed.

Aescher is also home to a restaurant that features a patio with a sweeping view of the Swiss Alps. You may feel as though your chair is perched on the side of a vertical cliff while you’re sipping on a glass of elderberry wine, munching on Appenzeller cheese, and listening to a cellist play Bach, but the alpine view is magnificent beyond compare.

Visitors can reach Aescher via an arduous hike or a short cable car ride. In addition to dining and spending the night at Aescher, you can also explore a nearby trio of caves known as Wildkirchli—or, Wild Chapel—which features remnants of the former chapel and hermitage. There is also a display devoted to fossils which have been recovered from the Wildkirchli, such as the bones of ancient cave bears.

If you’re exceptionally brave, you can spend the night on The Portaledge, which is a piece of equipment that allows Aescher guests to sleep suspended from the mountainside. For most travelers, daring to sip a cup of coffee in the open air nearly 5,000 feet above sea level on Aescher’s patio is enough adventure for one trip.

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