Chesa Wazzau is a holiday home in an Engadine house dating to the 17th Century: A Swiss Alps idyll straight out of a picture book where you feel like you’ve gone back in time.
How would you describe Wallis Heidenhaus in a nutshell?
Wallis Heidenhaus is a typical Heidenhaus in the village of Ernen that was built between 1424 and 1454. It’s one of the oldest surviving houses of this kind in the Goms region. It’s been beautifully preserved and now comprises two apartments that combine atmospheric, original details with modern design elements. And both apartments have a unique outdoor space as well.
What was the inspiration and story behind Wallis Heidenhaus?
I have a strong passion for historic houses, architecture and interior design, with my first project being a barn transformation in the mountains of Grisons. But I wasn’t searching for another project — it just found me!
An old man was living in the house until 2015 and it was very basic, with only one cold-water fountain (no bathrooms or WCs). It’s rare to find properties like this in today’s day and age. So my intention was to capture the property’s authentic atmosphere while integrating it with modern-day comforts. I wanted to give it a future and rent it out so that others could experience how the traditional Heidenhäuser were built.
How would you describe the interior design and atmosphere of the apartments?
I’ve always had a love for interior design and researching the history of buildings, especially when it comes to finding old, authentic objects and details that match their past. On the other hand, I’m also very interested in contemporary art and love to combine the two. So there’s been a strong emphasis on the choice of materials and fittings to create an authentic atmosphere.
I think that every object tells a story and I love giving things a new life in a sustainable way. For example, I found wooden antiques once used for carrying bread from the communal village oven and have transformed them into towel rails. A lot of guests ask about these and are interested to learn the old traditions.
Is Wallis Heidenhaus suitable for children of all ages?
Yes. I’ve had lots of families with children of all ages stay and can provide a baby bed and hi-chair if needed. That being said, there are a lot of historic details that are quite special and difficult to replace. So parents may need to pay more attention than when staying in some other apartments. Children love checking out the animals in the village, including the goats and the donkeys that live right next door!
I’d also say that the apartments aren’t really suitable for elderly people as the property is located on a very steep hill that makes access difficult. The doorways are also quite low, so tall people should be aware!
What is the charm of the region?
The region is special due to its landscape — there are 4,000-metre-high mountains and endemic flowers you can’t find anywhere else. Compared to some mountainous regions that feel claustrophobic, the mountains around Ernen are open and you can see in every direction.
The village is very historic and authentic — you won’t find any ugly houses here! It’s located on a terrace that’s always sunny and boasts beautiful views. While it’s famous with tourists, you don’t feel like you’re in a tourist destination as people live here throughout the year and are busy going about their daily lives. Guests often comment on how friendly the local people are.