I’m enjoying the scenery, the fluid drive and the fact that I am on holidays, when suddenly my tummy starts to growl. Squeezed in a caravan of cars I spot a large sign. On an impulse, I set my blinker and swerve away, leaving the stream of cars to rush on. Barely two hundred meters down the road the world changes. The announced Hotel Gotthard comes into view as a wonderful 18th century two-story wooden construction, complete with Swiss flag fluttering against the blue sky. I know I’m in for something special. Dropping my backpack in the shade of a large tree on the inviting patio, I head inside to explore.
Despite the efficient attempts of the waitress to herd me right back outside again and sit down with a menu, I start a conversation with the three sisters Sicher. Since 1972, the siblings run the Hotel in Gurtnellen which their father had acquired forty years prior to house his large family of ten. In the 1870s, their grandfather had come from southern Tyrol to hire on to help build the first Gotthard Tunnel under Louis Favre. Despite the terrible conditions he survived and later settled with his family in Gurtnellen. Leonie shows me the premises with pride and beckons me to follow her into the formal dining room, panelled in oak. She pulls open a drawer, gingerly lifts the soft cloth to reveal the fish cutlery with beautiful reliefs of pike and trout. She remembers the day her mother bought the family silver. The entire building oozes care, old-world charm and a slower ticking of the clock. I am smitten with Chef Greta’s absolutely delicious brook trout. I express my appreciation and learn that the establishment was awarded 14 points by famous Gault-Millau, the influential French restaurant guide! I concur whole heartedly.