Sep 1, 2015

Review: Schützenbach Backpackers & Camping / Hostel

I had a dormitory Bed with Schützenbach Backpackers & Camping / Hostel while I was in Lauterbrunnen for 6 nights. This is my review of the place.
 
Name: Schützenbach Backpackers & Camping / HostelAddress: Schützenbach, 3822 Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Tel: +41338551268
website: https://www.facebook.com/Schutzenbachbackpackers/timeline 
Price: €33.5 (price varies depending on season & room types)

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Room & bed

A little wooden cottage by itself, the room was spacious and cosy. Everyone had a nice wooden bed to themselves with straw mat floor and ample space for luggage. The entire place smelt so much of earthy wood that even my belongings had that smell attached to them.
There is 3 small windows and a relatively high ceiling so no fear for the claustrophobic.
 
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There is however, only one power plug for a room of 6 so a lot of consideration and communication was needed to share the power.
 
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My only problem with the room was how far it is from everything. The toilet, the laundry room, the pantry and the front desks were all a few minutes walk away. Since the cottage is isolated you have to wear your shoes and jacket and then get down from the cottage and go to wherever you want to go.
There is also no lock or lockers for the dormitory beds. Yes no lock for the front door of the cottage, everything functions by faith. I didn't experience any thief when I was there but I did have to put my valuables(Mac book air) into my luggage and lock it up. I guess if this bothers you, this is not the best place for you.
 
 

Bed


A pillow and a comforter is given along with bed sheets . Halfway through my stay, probably due to the forecasted colder nights, the hostels gave us an extra blanket.
The bed is comfy and soft though very narrow. I almost feel like I can accidentally roll off the sides and that's coming from a very petite Asian girl.
 
 

Toilet

Public toilet that is isolated from the cottage is used. Toilets are free but hot showers are charged by the minute.
 
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You have to use coins to activate the hot water. No change will be given so make sure you put the correct amount in.
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My experience is that the shower heads in the same room as the wash basins are stronger than the shower heads in the other room.
 
 

Cleanliness

The staff seem to clean the rooms in the afternoon so the floor always feels clean. The cleanliness of the Toilet fluctuate according to the time of the day but are generally bearable.
 
 

Location

Lauterbrunnen is a great place to base yourself to explore the Swiss alps. The main rail station stops here so connecting to Interlaken and the rest of Switzerland is easiest here. Of course the trade-off is it isn't as near to the alps or as rustic as say Mürren or Gimmelwald. But having been to both Mürren and Gimmelwald myself, I’d say it’s way too rustic(Gimmelwald) or too expensive(Murren) for me.
 
There are quite a couple of restaurants, souvenirs shops and winter wear shops in Lauterbrunnen.
 
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The Hostel is nestled within the mountains and the view around is spectacular.
 
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The Hostel is a 15 minutes walk away from the central. You can either walk over or take a Bus.
 
Take Bus 141 from the small Bus stop across the Lauterbrunnen Train Station, alight at the 4th Bus stop (including the Lauterbrunnen, Bahnhof Bus Stop)  The Hostel is just beside the Schutezenbach Bus Stop. As long as you stop at the right stop, there’s no way you can miss it.
 
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There is a supermarket near the train station and that’s where you will find the cheapest groceries you can. Switzerland is expensive everywhere so if you’re on a tight budget, I suggest you bring some of your own groceries before stepping into the country haha.
 
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Facilities

There is a bar beside the reception/check in room. Here’s their Facebook page.
There is a pantry there is free for all but to use the stove, you need to pay with coins. I think it was CHF5 for 20 minutes. I never bothered with the stoves though as everything I cooked could be cooked with hot water and the microwave (which are both free). There is a fridge but it’s tiny and every time I want to get my stuff, I need to scramble through piles of food. I had the unfortunate luck of having my cheese and chocolate cake stolen once though -_-
 
The pantry closes at 10pm but unless it’s National Day (read below), nobody really cares.
 
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Facilities

Laundry services are available and are coin operated. If I recalled correctly, it cost 5 Fr to wash and 1 Fr to dry, which isn’t too bad a deal. However the washing machine takes a long while and the dryer sometimes need multiple tumble. My clothes are generally thin so they dry within one tumble except for a few thicker ones. I copied a fellow bunkmate and laid the slightly moist laundry under my bed to dry overnight.

Washing powder is 1Fr and can be bought from the Front desk/reception office. The bar does not sell Washing Powder
 
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Other than my Bunk bed cottage, they also rent out rooms.
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Price

Definitely the main reason to stay here. Accommodations in Switzerland are pricey and this is probably one of the cheapest. However to be fair, the facilities and comfort does take a cut somewhere.
 

Staff

The staffs are generally helpful and friendly. I was able to catch them once and they recommended an awesome hiking route to me on top of providing me with tonnes of maps and catalogues. However finding them can be difficult because office opens from 08:00 - 12:00 and then reopens again in 15:00 - 20:00 . I guess this is what they call a Switzerland lifestyle.
 
The staffs are also sincere and honest. While I got turned awhile a few times because I happened to walk in during their off hours, they were mostly willing to help when I explained my need. Staff also took the initiative to inform me that 20Francs had already been deducted from my card as a deposit and did not double charge me when I checked out in the end. Little things like that make me have faith in the management.
 

Conclusion

I must admit, after coming from the comfortably warm & friendly Dolomites in Italy, Lauterbrunnen felt almost unbearably cold and icy. The fact that I screwed up my own train schedules also marred the beginning of the vacation for me.

This was also my introduction to a Hostel/Campsite. A place where everything except toilets and wash basin are charged and operated via a coin system. The fact that I needed to pay for a hot shower really makes me dread my military shower routine everyday.

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The fact that everywhere was so far (the toilets, shower room, pantry, reception room) from my cottage felt more than a little inconvenient. Especially when Wifi was only available in the public areas such as the Pantry and the Reception room. It meant I spent many nights having dinner with my laptop and smart phone desperately leeching to the Wifi. The Wifi also does not automatically remember and connects you., you are required to login again every time. Because I cannot stand the cold outside and could only surf in the pantry (which isn’t the best spot to be hogging a seat), I found myself cutting down on my internet time ….which isn’t too bad I guess haha.

Another grip I have with the place is the lack of lockers and hear this, room keys. You cannot lock the room if you stay in a dormitory like me and you have not lockers to lock your valuables in. This entire place function based on trust. However the staff informed me that they can help to store valuables in their office during the day if I request to.

My other grip with them was the need to retain my passport. I’m not sure about you but Passport is such an intimate and important document and like a possessive girlfriend, I really hate to see it out of my sight. Sadly I didn’t bring any other identification document (IC, driver’s license) with a picture so that was that. My advice if you intend to stay here, would be to bring an extra ID card for the hostel to keep as a deposit until you check out.

My last night in Lauterbrunnen was the National Day. While I am thankful for the fireworks spectacle, it did bring inconvenience to tourists like us. One of my new bunkmate checked in later and her luggage was stored in the Reception office who then took it to the Bar because she came back after 8pm. She ended up having to wait for an hour to get her luggage back because the bar was closed too because the staff wanted to watch the Fireworks (which would continue for hours).  We turned on the lights for the pantry after 10pm and was scolded by someone (not sure if he was a staff or not) that the lights are obstructing their view of the fireworks and he cursed vehemently at us to turn the lights off, reminding us that the Pantry is only until 10pm. While I understand their interest in fireworks and that the pantry was only till 10pm, none of us appreciate the man’s attitude and choice of words. It also reminds me of how rigid the place can be .

In conclusion, I’d say this is a place where you get what you paid for. The price is a steal for the location and the bed. However little things like paying for hot shower and lack of Wi-Fi in the room plus the rigidness of system makes me aspire to earn more money so I can travel in style next time I come around.

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However, waking up with such a sight every morning was something else altogether.


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