One of the most striking hotels in Switzerland is the Hotel Belvedere in the Furka Pass. It is located at the access point to the Rhone Glacier and is a must for anyone looking for a road trip in Switzerland. While the hotel’s heyday may have passed, tourists continue to come to have a peek at what was once a flourishing hotel.
There is so much to see and explore in the Swiss Alps – they even have a micro-nation hidden in their valleys that few have ever heard about. The Swiss Alps are one of the most stunning and storied regions in Europe. They have long drawn tourists from far and wide (but be careful to budget – Switzerland is infamously expensive).
The Hotel Belvedere – The Dramatic Hotel Of The Furka Pass
The eye-catching alpine Hotel Belvedere was built in the 19th century. Today (perhaps something like the hotel in the 2014 film, The Grand Hotel Budapest), it has seen better days. Unfortunately, the Hotel Belvedere closed in 2016, but it remains an eye-catching sight. It tells the tales of 19th-century tourism and global warming.
- Closed: 2016
- starring: James Bond 1964 Movie Goldfinger
In a time before there were Daniel Craig James Bond movies, there was Sean Connery’s 1964 movie Goldfinger. Watch the movie again and look for the Furka Pass and the hotel while it was still operating.
- Climate Change: Arguably, The Hotel Is A Victim Of Climate Change
The hotel is located close to the top of the Furka Pass, right by the Rhone Glacier. Or at least it was once right by the glacier. When the hotel was built, the glacier used to extend all the way to the building entrance. But the glacier has been receding at a rate of around 10 centimeters (3 inches) every day, according to Uniq Hotels. Now it is far from the hotel. This makes the hotel one of the first victims of global warming in the Swiss Alps.
While the hotel is closed and the glacier has receded, the hotel still stands proud on the mountainside. Hopefully, someone will eventually breathe new life into this remarkable hotel. But until that day comes, visitors will just have to stop to take pictures of the structure from the outside.
The Rhone Glacier – The Hotel’s Ordinal Attraction
The Rhone Glacier is one of the glaciers in the Alps that is easily accessible as the Furka Pass road runs close to it. It is the largest glacier in the Urner Alps. The largest summit rising above the glacier is Dammastock (at 3,360 meters or 11,000 feet).
The Receding Rhone Glacier:
- Length In 1879: 5.65 miles or 9.1 km
- Length In 1973: 4.97 miles or 8 km
- Length In 2016: 4.75 Miles or 7.65 km
The glacier has been in retreat for a long time now. When the hotel was first built, tourists would flock to see the Rhone Glacier. People would be attracted by the imposing glacier right on the doorstep of the hotel and the large tunnel carved into the ice. In the 1870s, people loved to walk through “a long and winding ice grotto with glistening blue walls and a leaky ceiling.”
Today the ice tunnel may no longer be safe as the glacier continues to move and melt.
In order to protect the glacier and slow the melt, UV-resistant fleecy white blankets are installed on it during warm periods. The blankets cover around 5 acres of the glacier. It is estimated that the blankets manage to reduce the melting by around 70%.
The Furka Pass Itself Is An Excellent Road Trip
The Furka Pass is not only visually stunning, but it is also one of the snowiest regions in Switzerland. It connects the cantons of Uri and Valais in the south-central part of the country. It is considered one of the most iconic and exciting drives of the vaunted Swiss Alps.
Anyone looking for a road trip will love the many tight switchbacks that curve their way up the mountainside.
- Furka Pass: Perfect For A Road Trip
If one does drive the Furka Pass, take the time to visit the Rhone Glacier and stop by the iconic hotel. Venture to the glacier and imagine all the tourists of the 1870s coming to see the ice grotto – the 100-meter-long tunnel that was carved through the glacier. Imagine the unearthly shade of blue inside the glacier.
If one would like to see the inside of a glacier today, take a jeep tour from the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon to the Vatnajökull glacier and see another worldly mosaic of blue frozen ice.