Architecture & Design

Architecture & Design

01 Oct 2021

Architecture & Design

Engelberg, 1 October 2021 – The new Kempinski Palace Engelberg in the heart of the Swiss Alps was opened on 25 June 2021. The Grand Hotel Winterhaus, which was opened in December 1905 and later renamed as the Hotel Europäischer Hof, has been extensively renovated, restored and extended since 2016 with the addition of a new building. The charm and the unique history of the building was retained using modern construction methods. The hotel is the successful resurrection of this once-famous grand hotel. The luxurious retreat, with spectacular views of the nearby mountains, was a well-known destination for both Swiss and international travellers alike. This is because it offered rest and relaxation, as well as the thrill of sports such as skiing, bobsleigh and skeleton in winter and hiking in the spectacular mountains.

National and international architectural and building know-how

The classic Belle Epoque features of the original hotel have been retained during the renovation work. The building has had a extension added to it. Based on the idea and the concept of the winning project from the study carried out by the architecture firm Masswerk AG in Lucerne and Graber Pulver Architekten AG in Zurich/Bern, the Munich firm Hilmer Sattler Architekten Ahlers Albrecht was responsible for the artistic arrangement of the hotel project. The work was carried out on site by the Lucerne-based architecture firms ARGE Architekturbüro Iwan Bühler GmbH and Sigrist Schweizer Architekten AG.
The company Eberli AG in Sarnen was responsible for the ideas as well as being the driving force at each stage of the project. It all began with finding a strong idea and identity for the concept as a whole, as well as managing the project though to the completion and handover of the finished building. Working closely together with the authority responsible for the conservation of buildings, it was possible to retain the special charm of the existing historic hotel complex. The interior design concept, made up of a combination of contemporary interventions which blend in well with traditional features, was created by Jestico + Whiles London and implemented by Eberli AG.

The order

The design order was simple and clear. The hotel was to regain its status as a luxurious, elegant and comfortable year-round destination. It should be both inviting and warm, while at the same time retaining the special aura of the original hotel as a home for all those who are looking for a relaxing base for mountain sports and nature. There would be no effort spared in getting the design just right. It had to be recognisably fresh and contemporary. To achieve this, it had to be carefully and respectfully brought in line with the traditional features of the hotel as well as its rich history. During the course of the project, some forgotten aspects of the past were discovered and restored. This created a rich backdrop for designs which could be perfectly tailored to meet the needs of a new era of guests. The shape of the hotel and the unusual arrangement of the rooms were a special challenge, but at the same time also a unique opportunity to pass on a piece of heritage to the next generation while retaining its original splendour.

The design

Despite the physical challenges of combining new and old, the contemporary design approach brings together both past and present harmoniously. Materiality, texture and soft colours are ever-present. Different colours and decorative themes add a touch of charm to the new ensemble without looking gaudy. Subtle natural colour palettes with various textures and shades provide a quiet and timeless atmosphere across the entire hotel. Local materials such as wood and stone are inspired by the mountain backdrop and stand out with their warmth and refined earthiness. They are influenced by local craftsmanship and traditional techniques, which are given a modern twist and inspired by Alpine motifs.


The lobby is now in a more central location and is accessed via an impressive portico as well as a large staircase. As soon as they enter, guests immediately get a sense of how the impressive proportions and knowingly preserved features of the new and exceptional lobby area have been used to achieve the perfect layout. Despite its vastness, the different rooms clustered around the lobby give off a relaxed, informal vibe and merge together seamlessly. Spacious furniture and carpets provide a relaxed experience. The original entrance to the hotel has lost its status as a main entrance in the new arrangement, but it is still there, having been refurbished into a direct entrance to “The Palace Bar” and the “Cigar Lounge”. Another separate entrance lobby to the function rooms likewise connects the building with the inviting landscape of the adjoining Kurpark.

The Wintergarden

A special highlight is the glazed winter garden directly next to the lobby. This room, which was once known as the “Winter Hall”, used to be a ‘boots room’, in which visitors used to take off their skates after ice skating in the spa garden. Today, the “Winter Garden” is a perfect place for a morning cup of coffee or afternoon cup of tea, with a focus on relaxation and enjoying the unique views. The décor convinces with its cool texture and its shape against the background of the original terracotta floor tiles.

A traditional bar with a modern twist


The “Palace Bar” has two important focus points – the fireplace lounge and the horseshoe-shaped bar. This wonderful atmosphere continues in the intimate “Cigar Lounge” next door. This spacious salon – which is now a bar – has been a popular meeting place ever since the hotel opened in 1905. It is a stroke of luck that so many remnants of the original architecture have remained here to this day. The richly decorated ceiling underwent extensive renovation work. The same applies to the large glass panes on the windows, which were produced in Belgium shortly after the turn of the 20th century and which offer views of the village.

The vestibule

As the centrepiece of the entrance hall, the so-called vestibule, the staircase was left in its original place. However, the lift has been replaced and expanded. The fact that the mosaic floor has survived after being hidden for decades under thick layers of carpet is testament to how these unique artefacts from a previous era of architecture were treated with respect at each stage during the building work.

An exciting journey of discovery through the hotel

Taking a deeper look inside the hotel, more hidden treasures from the past can be rediscovered – mosaics and marbles, historic floor tiles or antique serving trolleys and milk jugs. Each one of these rooms is part of a wonderful journey through time. A harmonious palette of reassuring green and misty blue-green tones and subdued shades of cyclamen and heather offset the traditional and expressive marble and mosaic elements. The texture gives it a light and modern touch – the wool, wicker and wood grain stand out throughout thanks to their contrasting splendour and tactile qualities. At night, the light takes over and provides softness and warmth. The smoked glass comes alive, and the light is reflected in copper metals and antique brass. In the background, the lights sparkle on the mountainside.

The function rooms

The “Cattani Restaurant” and the function rooms are connected to the Winter Garden and to the Kursaal* by a wide staircase which does justice to a Grand Hotel. The balustrades produced on site from reconstituted stone are lined with wood, with the details and texture providing a reminder of the impressive mountain landscape. Running through these new rooms is terrazzo flooring in a brilliant white colour, combining traditional crafts with bmodern sensibilities. The rooms provide endless opportunities for meetings, and fulfil the need for variety and flexibility when creating events.

The Cattani Restaurant

The “Cattani Restaurant” reveals a modern charm of its very own with its high ceilings and double height windows, which offer spectacular views over the mountains. The ever-changing Alpine light is reflected in the marble walls and extensive mirrors. A large tailor-made and modern-looking chandelier forms the centrepiece of the restaurant. Each one of the crystal ‘icicles’ is handmade, and the overall appearance of the chandelier reflects the shape of the Titlis. A large oil painting made by Willy Amrhein in 1914 can also be seen hanging in the Cattani Restaurant. The mysterious mural on canvas shows a south-facing view of the valley from Engelberg. Little is known about how and why it was created.


Kempinski The Spa

Away from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life, on the top floor of the hotel is an retreat which closely reflects elements of the mountain landscape. Stone – smooth as pebbles or roughly hewn – contrasts with graphic wooden lines, angular planes or geometric patterns. Inspired by the mountain landscape – bold and abstract, but always in harmony with the incomparable views. The sauna and steam room are in keeping with the main themes, but the relaxation lounge is a particular charming interpretation on the modern mountain hut, with a salt crystal chamber in the centre of the room. Though spacious, the pool area uses differences in depth to create stepped seating areas made of dark stone, which radiate both feelings of intimacy and a unique appeal. The pool speaks for itself with its glazed frontage, providing panoramic views of the mountains.

Rooms and suites

The rooms and suites stand out with their warm atmosphere thanks to the use of materials such as brushed oak and luxurious light-brown leather. The sleeping area is surrounded by wooden panels reaching down to the parquet wood flooring – for luxury and comfort. Soft green and blue tones provide a feeling of mountain freshness. Different textures are playfully combined – either jagged and sewn or woven and quilted. The bathroom is your very own private oasis of wellness, with its subtle stone structures and white colour tones to match the slate grey. The bedrooms in the new part of the hotel as well as the Belle Epoque part all feature the same colours and materials, though each one has its own character. Most of the new rooms also have their own balcony, which allows guests to relax like nowhere else.




About Kempinski Palace Engelberg – Titlis Swiss Alps 

“Embrace Swissness” - On June 25, 2021, Kempinski Palace Engelberg was the first international five star-superior hotel to open in central Switzerland's largest winter and summer holiday destination. The successful Engelberg hotelier Eduard Cattani (1841 – 1908) had his brother, the architect Arnold Cattani (1846 – 1921), design and build the historic building, which was known far beyond the borders of Switzerland at the time. Together with the new six-storey hotel building, the listed hotel, which opened in 1904 as the “Grandhotel Winterhaus” now forms a consummate architectural unit. The 129 rooms and suites offer state-of-the-art facilities as well as a unique view of the breathtaking mountain landscape. Culinary variety is provided by the signature “Cattani restaurant” featuring also a large summer terrace, “The Palace Bar” with “Cigar Lounge” and the “Wintergarden” with regional and seasonal products. A unique 880 sq m rooftop spa with infinity pool and views over the mountain panorama, as well as a modern event area with nine conference rooms and the listed Kursaal* for up to 1,000 guests round off the diverse range of facilities. The hotel is conveniently and easily accessible all year round by car, train or in around 75 minutes by car via Zurich airport.

About Kempinski Hotels

Founded in 1897, Kempinski Hotels is the oldest luxury hotel group in Europe. Kempinski offers its guests first-class hospitality and personal service worldwide, complemented by the exclusivity and individuality of the respective resorts. Kempinski currently operates a total of 78 five-star hotels and residences in 34 countries. This range is continually extended by the addition of new hotels in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Each reflects the strength and success of the Kempinski brand without losing sight of its heritage. The portfolio includes historic grand hotels, superb city hotels, outstanding resorts and superior residences. Kempinski is also a founding member of the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands. ·

Media contact
Alexandra Ellerkamp · Cluster Director of Marketing & Communications
Kempinski Palace Engelberg – Titlis Swiss Alps
Dorfstrasse 40 · 6390 Engelberg · Switzerland
T +41 41 556 40 57· [email protected]