Family Traveller CEO, Andrew Dent, embarks on a scenic journey to Mürren, a stunning family-friendly ski resort made famous by the world's most celebrated spy
The journey to the Swiss village of Mürren, while not necessarily the simplest, is nothing short of epic. Travelling on a combination of planes, trains, trams and cable cars, the trip to the car-free ski resort is a whole adventure in itself, whether arriving from Zürich or Geneva airport.
Once you make it to Interlaken - the nearest significant town to Mürren - you will change onto a tram that takes you up the base of the Lauterbrunnen valley. This is a magical journey, but it's by no means the end of the adventure: after the 30-minute tram, you will embark on an equally breathtaking jaunt on a gondola, climbing up a sheer mountainside that will have the kids' glued to the windows.
At this point, you might feel as though you have journeyed on enough modes of transport for the day, but the final leg takes you on a narrow-gauge train that winds across the cliff tops, straight into the heart of the village itself. It’s like being in your very own model railway and is bound to be another winner with the kids.
Once you are safely in Mürren, prepare to be taken aback by stunning, mountain-top surroundings. The compact village, which can be traversed from one end to the other in just ten minutes, looks out over the valley you have just risen from towards the 4,158-metre Jungfrau peak and the larger ski resort of Wengen.
There are a plethora of accommodation options, including private houses on Airbnb. The smartest hotel is the four-star Eiger Murren Swiss Quality Hotel that comes with a few more trappings. However, the reality is that almost all the hotels share the same special ingredient – the view. For that reason, I opted for the three-star Hotel Alpenruh perched right on the cliff edge.
Choose a balcony room on the top floor and you will have your breath knocked out of you by the unparalleled vistas in juxtaposition to the relatively basic room in which you find yourself. There is a decent restaurant in the hotel for dinner and a more than satisfactory breakfast. But the Hotel Alpenruh wins again come the morning with its location right next to the main Schilthorn cable car. This gets you swiftly up to Birg Station at 2677m. There are a series of blue and green runs for the family to enjoy from here, although you don't want to miss the main attraction: James Bond.
Mürren is best-known for the setting of the baddie's lair in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (the one with George Lazenby). The lair is today a revolving restaurant called Piz Gloria. It is a must-do, either for the ‘007 Breakfast’ or for a family lunch which can include a kids' favourite ‘007 Burger’.
It’s also a great trip for non-skiers to experience an alpine high, plus there is a Bond World, a museum located underneath the restaurant that's packed full of fascinating classic 007 memorabilia. The run down from the top is a tricky black, so go easy on the mimosas at breakfast. Yet if you hit it right, and you can imagine yourself as Bond being pursued by baddies with machine guns before you release the Union Jack parachute (okay, this is from The Spy Who Loved Me - but it fits).
Back to earth, you can enjoy the 50 km of slopes that Mürren has to offer. It's not the largest resort by any stretch; in fact, a competent skier will cover the whole mountain in a day. But that makes it perfect for a family ski trip where the priority is helping the kids along with their ski skills and confidence. They will feel safe and you can slowly graduate them up the mountain.
It would be a mistake to pigeonhole Mürren as simply beautiful views and gentle family ski days. Once a year the resort hosts perhaps the most famous amateur ski race in the world –the aptly-named Inferno. Founded by some nutty Brits in 1928, it sees 1,850 people hurtle down an exhausting 14.7 km course, presenting the longest downhill race in the world, either amateur or professional. You will need technical expertise, stamina and a strong propensity for risk to participate.
While the 2021 race was cancelled, Murren is already planning the 2022 Inferno races for 19-22 January. Registration is open from June until 15th September 2021 and, although they usually receive upwards of 2500 applications for just 1850 places, it’s worth a go. You can of course recreate the course yourself anytime during the season. Pretend the marshals are keeping a beady eye on you (and maybe those Bond baddies).
All in all, I love Mürren. It's classy, sophisticated and offers an old-school approach to a family ski holiday, making it an ideal destination.
Give it a go. I’m off for a martini.
Flights from London to Zürich and London to Geneva take approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. The train from Geneva to Interlaken takes 2 hours and 45 minutes. From Zürich, it takes 2 hours 15 minutes.
Where to stay
The car-free village of Mürren offers a wide range of accommodation, from self-catered chalets to four-star hotels. Find out more about where to stay.
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