The hotel is located just few minutes walking distance off the hustle and bustle of the lively city centre. The premises comprise of a two storey main building and a one store lodge annex surrounded by a small garden. Though the building is not “scraping the sky” the location permits a good view of the Kanchenjunga Mountain range. Reaching the station of the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railways “Toy Train” requires only a few minutes' walk and the steam whistle is a welcome signal to order the first cup of pure organic Darjeeling tea.
The British chose Darjeeling as a hill station to escape the summer heat of British India's former capital Calcutta. On an average altitude of 2134 meters (6,982 feet) the city is the administrative center of Darjeeling district.
Four seasons characterise the area's climate and the monsoons set an additional mark. Darjeeling is a round the year destination. In summer the temperature seldom exceeds 25 degree Celsius. The winters can be very chilly with temperatures sometimes dropping below zero degrees Celsius during the night. Even few days of snowfall are recorded in Darjeeling from time to time. From June to September heavy monsoon rainfalls prepare the hills for a new agricultural season.
Darjeeling, the Queen of Hill Stations, owes its fame mainly to the outstanding view of the Mount Kanchenjunga range. Various monasteries and temples display the religious importance of the place. Many churches and buildings still remind of the city's British heritage. Darjeeling has never lost its reputation as an important center of education with great schools that attract students from near and far. The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, commonly known as Darjeeling Zoo, is home to a collection of the unique mountain fauna which comprises many endangered species like the Snow Leopard, the Red Panda and the Himalayan Black Bear. Moreover, many people are attracted by the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the Tibetan Refugee Center and the Botanical Garden. To understand the significance that Darjeeling has for the world's tea connoisseurs a visit to one of the near-by tea gardens is a must. The Mall is a pedestrian zone with a variety of restaurants, curio-, jewellery- and clothing shops. Last but not the least the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways with the tiny steam “toy train” is a major attraction that was included into the list of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. A heritage walking tour offers an enjoyable way to experience the city's past and present glory.
The Swiss Hotel comprises of a two storey main building with eight double rooms and a one storey annex building with spacious restaurant and four cottages. The building is surrounded by a small garden and a multi purpose open compound that offers sufficient space for cultural activities, sports and car parking.
Staff in Swiss Hotel is a representative of the great hospitality of the mountain community with all employees being qualified and trained local people. Currently 17 people work in the hotel catering for the kitchen, the restaurant, reception, housekeeping, gardening, security and management.
The hotel's restaurant “The Steaming Whistle” offers authentic Nepali Cuisine plus a blend of Indian and international specialties that suit vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Fresh vegetables, fish and meat are sourced locally.
The British legacy forms a part of the rich cultural heritage of the region and The Swiss Hotel being almost 100 years old is one of the signboards. It aims to conserve the building that the former ruler's have once built but as well strives for adding a taste of the genuine mountain culture and nature. A Heritage Walk takes one along the city's old and new attractions. And a visit to one of the villages in the surroundings completes a holistic Darjeeling experience.
First and foremost Darjeeling is famous throughout the world for its tea. The Darjeeling mixture of climatic and topographic conditions brings out the noble brew that is often described as the Champagne of the East. It is an ideal souvenir that is available in many factory outlets and trading shops. Curio shops offer handicraft and artworks from the several communities that call the area their home. Orchids which are available aplenty in the hills, many of them endemic to this region, can as well be a long-lasting remembrance for the visitor. The same is true for the traditional pickle made of Red Bombs, one of the hottest chilies in the world.
Through Help Tourism and ACT-Association for Conservation and Tourism, The Swiss Hotel participates in conservation programmes for the Red Panda and the Himalayan Newt, an endemic and endangered Salamander species.
The Swiss Hotel is a central information and promotion platform of the various communities, the precious nature and the rich culture and tradition of the East Himalaya. The city boasting of many hotels forms only part of the Darjeeling experience and consequently Help Tourism encourages visits to the rural areas facilitating a richer experience for those who want to get a full taste of the mountain life. Moreover, Swiss has adopted two Red Pandas in Darjeeling Zoo as a part of Help Tourism's Red Panda Conservation Initiative.
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More information about the Community Development and Conservation Programmes at www.actnowornever.org (Association for Conservation and Tourism).
The Swiss Hotel's website can be reached at www.olddarjeeling.com.