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Sleeping on Straw in Switzerland | Ummi Goes Where?

Barn Hotel: Sleeping on Straw in Switzerland (Schlafen im Stroh)

In the past, sleeping in the barn was reserved for stable hands. Or for those unlucky kids (or husbands) who were punished for misbehaving. But these days, people actually pay for the experience. 

I was one of those people. (You shouldn’t be surprised though — I’ve even paid to stay in a prison cell!)

Schlafen im Stroh (sleeping on straw) is actually a thing in Switzerland. It’s commonly done by hikers who want a cheap place to crash for the night, shower, and have something to eat before or after a hike. And Switzerland — being a well-known hiking paradise — has these ‘barn hotels’ in almost every part of the country.

But you don’t actually have to be a hiker to stay there. There are people who travel all the way across the globe just for the experience of sleeping in a barn. Like this Malaysian girl, for example.

In September 2019, my travel partner and I had the privilege of staying with the Signers’ family on their farm in Wasserauen.

Appenzell Switzerland
Appenzell, Switzerland. Credit: David Gubler / Wikimedia Commons

The Signers’ farm is located in Wasserauen, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Switzerland. It is right at the foot of the Alpstein, an idyllic hiking area with plenty of things to do — from paragliding to cable cars to a mountaintop restaurant. Further details can be found on the official tourism page of Appenzellerland.
 
The place is easy to reach by car, bicycle, and train. It is only 5 minutes’ walk from Wasserauen train station. Upon exiting the station, walk through the parking space till you reach Hotel Alpenrose. Then, turn right and cross the river using the footbridge.
 
If you’re driving a car, go past Hotel Alpenrose, and about 50m after, turn right into the main entrance of the farm (the gate with the big signboard). Free parking available.
 
Sleeping on Straw Wasserauen, Switzerland | Ummi Goes Where?
The signboard at the main entrance.

How to Book the "Sleeping on Straw" Experience

You can make a booking by contacting them directly on their website. Stefan, the person in charge of online bookings and enquiries, is very responsive. Alternatively, you can book via Airbnb. If it’s your first time on the platform, use this link to get $40 off your first stay.

Rooms at the Barn Hotel

There are 4 separate rooms available:
  • Room 1 for 12 people (new guesthouse)
  • Room 2 for 6 people (barn)
  • Room 3 for 8 people (upper floor, beside hay room)
  • Room 4 for 6 people (barn, for guests with pets)
Schlaf im Stroh room - Sleeping on Straw in Switzerland | Ummi Goes Where?
One of the rooms.

Rates

(Inclusive of breakfast and tourist tax)

Children (up to 3 years)

Free

Children (3 – 12 years)

CHF 14

Children (12 – 16 years)

CHF 19 

Adults (16 years and above)

CHF 30

Dinner is available with advance notice:

  • Spaghetti with salad (CHF 9)
  • Pasta with cheese, special sausage, and apple sauce (CHF 14)
  • Meat from the grill, with salad (CHF 14)
  • Hot meatloaf with salad (CHF 12)
  • Vienna sausage with bread (CHF 5 )

What to Expect at the Barn Hotel

Getting There

As we were coming from Vaduz Liechtenstein, it took us several trains and connecting buses to get there.
 
Taking the train in Switzerland can be overwhelming for a first-timer, especially if there is no direct route to your destination. But don’t worry — just approach the information counter at any train station, tell them where you want to go, and they will give you a booklet with a complete schedule of all the trains you need to take.
 
The schedules are accurate down to the last second. If it’s not punctual, it’s not Switzerland.
 
I have to say — even the journey to get there was a treat in itself. Never had I ever seen such magnificent mountains and sprawling valleys and grass so green.
 
Well, maybe in New Zealand. But New Zealand is in a class of its own.
 

Check-In

Schlafen im Stroh - Sleeping on Straw in Switzerland | Ummi Goes Where?The farm wasn’t that hard to find, despite my non-existent sense of direction. Trying to enter was a little confusing though. There was a small gate that led to the barn but it was blocked by what I assumed to be an electric fence to keep the goats in.

Now I had no idea what an electric fence was supposed to look like, but I wasn’t going to take the chance. There was a house in the other direction, so I decided to check there instead. 

The problem was that to get to the house, I had to walk across the field, but the grass was so green and pretty I wasn’t sure if I should step on it. So, I had to go round to the main gate, from which there was a cleared path leading to the house. Silly, I know.

There was no one in the house. It was only a few minutes later that someone emerged from the barn. He introduced himself as Klaus, Stefan’s father. Klaus spoke very little English but it was enough to relay to us everything we should know.

The Barn

The barn had two floors. We got the smaller room on the ground floor, which could fit up to 6 persons. Since there was no other guest during our arrival, we got the whole place to ourselves. Adjacent to our room was the shared bathroom.

What impressed me the most was how clean the place was. Despite there being a bed full of loose straw, the floor was clear of any stray pieces. And despite there being a cowshed just next door, there was no unpleasant smell.

Schlaf im Stroh view
Schlaf im stroh view

The bathroom was spotless. It came with a proper toilet, a sink, and a hot shower. In fact, it was much better than my bathroom back home! I don’t know why, but I had been expecting something more primitive — like a pit latrine, or a bucket of water for showering with. Then I remembered I wasn’t in Asia anymore.

Schlafen im Stroh toilet
Schlaf im Stroh toilet

The Family

Signer family treeOn the wall of our barn, there was a poster with pictures of the Signers. They’re quite a big family.

But during our stay, Klaus was the only one who was there to attend to us. His wife Ruth lived on another farm about 10 kilometers away, which she managed on her own.

Their “Schlafen im Stroh” farmstay is only available in the warmer months. Once it starts to grow colder, Klaus (and the animals) will move to the other farm, where it is warmer.

The couple has 5 kids — Stefan being the oldest among them. It was his idea to turn their summer residence into a farmstay business.

 

The Animals

The goats on the Signers farm were some of the cutest I’ve seen. They liked to nibble on everything, including my jacket, my hair, and my hands. In the stable next door, there were around 10 cows being milked.

Schlaf im Stroh cows

 

This would be stating the obvious, but the farm would be paradise for those who love animals and hell for those who don’t because you’ll practically be living among them. In the morning, the sound of cowbells is going to wake you up and keep you awake for the rest of the day.

Then there will be other sounds and antics that you’ll have to deal with. At one point, we heard a strange scratching sound on the wall of our barn. Soon enough, we found out who the culprit was.

What It’s Like to Sleep on Straw 

Sleeping on straw isn’t as bad as one might expect. Think a lumpy mattress — not great, but still better than sleeping on the floor. The straw gets everywhere though, and it can be itchy. If this bothers you, bring a sleeping bag. It would make it a much more comfortable experience. And also keep you warm.
Sleeping on straw in Switzerland | Ummi Goes Where?
On the straw bed.

It was only mid-September and we had several layers of clothes on. Yet, we were still freezing. They did provide wool blankets, but we thought we were only allowed to take one per person, so that was what we did.

But the next day at breakfast, when we met the other guests and they told us they had slept under SIX layers of blankets, we wished we had taken more.

Breakfast

The breakfast was the highlight and the perfect ending of our stay. There was an extensive spread of breads, cheeses, meatloaves, yogurt, muesli, and jams, all of which were homemade. The eggs, yogurt, milk, butter, and cheeses were all sourced from the farm. I don’t mind having that kind of breakfast everyday. What a wholesome way to live!

Breakfast - Sleeping on Straw in Switzerland | Ummi Goes Where?
Several types of breads, cheeses, jams, and butter — all homemade. A basket of eggs from the farm. In the flasks are tea, coffee, and milk from the cows. The meatloaves weren’t served yet when this photo was taken.
Breakfast Schlafen im Stroh
With Klaus and the other guests from South America

Additional Info on the Barn Hotel

Check-in: After 5 p.m.
Checkout: 11 a.m.
  • The farmstay is only available in the warmer months. Please check their availability before planning your trip.
  • Not recommended for infants (under 2 years old).
  • Not recommended for people with allergies.
  • No smoking! The whole place is made of wood and straw.
     
    No Smoking Wasserauen
     
  • No parties or events.
  • Moderate alcohol consumption is allowed.
  • Please be considerate to other guests. Click here to get tips for staying in a shared accommodation.
  • Pets are allowed, but must be supervised at all times.
  • The rooms do not have heaters. Bring warm clothes.
  • Bring your own towels and toiletries.
  • If you have super-sensitive skin, bring a sleeping bag. There are also sleeping bags for rent at CHF 3 each.
  • A barbecue and simple kitchen are available for shared use, free of charge.
  • There are electric sockets but no Wi-Fi.

Final Thoughts on Sleeping on Straw in Switzerland

Is it good value for money? Yes, I think it is great value for money. Knowing how expensive Switzerland can get, CHF 30 is a steal. Especially with the kind of breakfast we got.

Is it worth traveling across the world for? Absolutely!

I had always dreamed of living a simple and self-sustaining lifestyle on a farm (if only I knew how to keep a plant alive for more than a week!), and this farmstay gave me the opportunity to experience that even if it was just for a day.

Schlaf im stroh guestbook - Sleeping on Straw in Switzerland | Ummi Goes Where?
Left a note in their guestbook.

What was the most unusual hotel/guesthouse/homestay you’ve ever stayed at? Share your experience in the comment section below.

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Sleeping in a barn Switzerland
Posted in Switzerland

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72 Comments

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  3. Danik

    I know the area well as I done quite a bit of hiking here and love checking out the farm animals when I walk across some fields before hitting up further into the mountains. However as a former farmer in my younger days, I have tried sleeping on straw. For me, it was not nice and very itchy. I still can’t believe they do this in Switzerland and sell it as an experience to tourists (they do in other parts like Bernese Oberland region). I seriously wouldn’t do it again, I rather pitch up the tent outside. 😀 Did you get bitten by any bugs whilst doing this? I know I did. 😛

    • ummi

      No, I didn’t get bitten by any bugs. It was much cleaner and tidier than I expected, to be honest. A little itchy perhaps, but I should have put more blankets.

      I think it’s a great business idea. As a city girl, I had never been in a farm, and I was really looking forward to this experience. I must say I wasn’t disappointed. It was one of the major highlights of my trip 😄. I would do it again.

  4. Chloe Beaver

    This is so cool! I didn’t know that this was an option when traveling through Switzerland, and with this country being high on my bucket list I’ll definitely have to give it a try. I love how it depicts a minimalistic lifestyle and gives you a true new experience, which is something I always look for when traveling. Thanks for sharing!

    • ummi

      I totally agree, Chloe! Like you, I always seek new experiences when I travel, and I’m especially attracted to things that are a bit unusual, quirky, or downright bizarre. And I’m also a big fan of minimalistic, self-sustaining lifestyle. I was so excited when I first found out about this barn hotel. You should definitely give it a try if you go to Switzerland. 😊

  5. Jamie

    Incredible! I had never heard about this kind of experience before while traveling in Switzerland, so it was very fascinating to read about it here. The photos really brought it to life – before I saw the one of your room I was imagining a literal barn but this is a solid structure that just happens to have straw beds! Good shout on bringing a sleeping bag, I think the itchiness would be a problem.

    • ummi

      Hey Jamie, I suppose different farmstays are different, but here it’s really clean and organized. And like you said, this is a solid structure that happens to have straw beds — although I probably wouldn’t have minded if it had been a real barn either. If your skin is prone to itchiness, definitely bring a sleeping bag. Otherwise, just pile on the blankets. Have fun! 🙂

  6. Agnes

    I remember when, as a child, I slept on straw in my grandparents’ barn. But I had no idea that it is possible and available as cheap accommodation in Switzerland. It’s a great idea for cheap and exciting overnight. The farm looks fabulous.

    • ummi

      Oh, lucky you, Agnes! I had never stepped foot on a farm until I was 30. Good thing somebody came up with this brilliant idea. Apart from providing cheap accommodation for hikers and budget travelers, it’s also perfect for city people who wouldn’t have had the chance to experience it otherwise. I had a fabulous time!

  7. Umiko

    Wow! This is really a cool experience! First time I heard about it, and I want to experience it myself. The most unusual homestay I’ve ever experienced was when we went to Wae Rebo village in Flores, Indonesia. We slept on a floor on a lampit mat in a traditional house, together with other visitors. Of course, we tried not to eat a lot and touched the chilli paste because, you know, the bathroom condition. Haha…

    • ummi

      Hahaha, I went to Wae Rebo too, Umiko. I saw the communal sleeping area and had lunch there, but I didn’t spend the night and I didn’t check out the bathroom. But that sounds like a cool experience! I think you would really love this barn hotel concept in Switzerland. And most importantly, everything’s very clean, even the bathroom.

  8. Soumya Gayatri

    Wow! This is so interesting and novel for me. I had not even heard of sleeping on the straw and to do so in Switzerland sounds like an adventure. I would love to try this out sometime for sure. And with that heavenly breakfast and low price, it sure sounds like a deal.

    • ummi

      It was a great adventure for us indeed, Soumya, especially since we had never been on a farm before. It was our dream to experience the greenery of the Swiss countryside that we previously only saw in pictures. And you’re right, it was an amazing deal, with that heavenly breakfast. One of our best travel memories ever. 🙂

  9. Ami Bhat

    When I visited Switzerland, I always felt that the best way to experience it would be to stay in one of the meadows. Your post proves me right. Sleeping on the hay, with farm animals and experiencing the day to day life of the farm is definitely amazing. One that allows you to experience the true culture of the place. I so envy you

    • ummi

      It was an amazing experience, Ami — one that I would highly recommend to anyone. I had always wanted to stay in one of the meadows in Switzerland, and my dream came true. I hope you’ll get to experience it too someday 🙂

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  11. Arnav Mathur

    Gone are the days, when only luxury experiences sell, these days its all about experiences and Sleeping in a barn on straws ! It cant get any more rustic than this. It’s like back to basics.
    I feel these kind of experiences are required, for people to take a step back and see where they have come, but still to learn to be content with the basics.

    • ummi

      Very nicely put, Arnav. I’m glad those days are gone. And I’m glad travel is no longer reserved for the rich. Now, there are cheaper options for everything, this barn hotel being one example. I think this concept of eschewing luxury and going back to basics is not really new. For a long time, people have gone hiking in the wilderness, slept in tents, and hunted their own food. This barn hotel is quite a luxury in comparison.

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  13. Medha Verma

    Actually I am not surprised that one would pay to sleep in a barn (or that you paid to sleep in a prison cell) because I’d do it too! Just for the experience…and it seems like I won’t regret it! I know its probably not as glamourous as some may think but the idea to experience a certain type of lifestyle and I’m totally in for it! Its pretty cheap too.

    • ummi

      Oh, Medha, you’re my type of traveler! I dig this sort of experience where you get to live a certain type of lifestyle for one day. And you’re right — it’s pretty cheap, so that’s a major plus!

  14. Lina

    Oh wow I didn’t know sleeping on straw is actually a thing! I grew up next to a farmer and we went there really often as kids. We never slept on straw tho but it was always fun playing in it! Awesome experience Ummi 🙂

    • ummi

      Thank you, Lina! Yes, it’s actually a thing, not only in Switzerland, but if I’m not mistaken, also in Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands. And I’m glad it is, otherwise I wouldn’t have had the chance to experience sleeping on straw. But I suppose if you grew up in this kind of environment, it probably wouldn’t excite you anymore.

      • ummi

        Yes, Rowena. I was astounded at the hotel rates in Switzerland. Glad I found this alternative. I guess you could call it a travel hack in Switzerland. 😄

  15. Holidaysfromhels

    Love this whole idea! A barn in the Swiss mountains sounds like such an unusual adventure. With good bathrooms and breakfast I am so tempted to give it ago despite the lumpy mattress floors. I’d just have to take a double dose of hayfever tablets!

    • ummi

      Oh I hadn’t thought of that! It must be hard for people with allergies. But I agree with you — it is an awesome idea for an unusual adventure!

  16. galatia savva

    this is absolutely brilliant! what an experience! I don’t hike myself, (although i walk for hours when i travel) but id visit a barn just for the experience! thanks for sharing this i never knew there was such a thing!

  17. Krista

    I really love how they’ve turned this into an experience that people are paying for, whereas in the past this was reserved for the workers! I love trying out unique sleeping arrangements so this is going on my list!

    • ummi

      Yes, I love how they saw this opportunity and grabbed it. And we certainly don’t mind paying for this kind of experience. It’s a win-win situation for everybody. Do put it in your list, Krista. Hope you’ll get to experience this too. 🙂

    • ummi

      Thank you, Nisha! I’m surprised you had never heard of it. I thought it would be pretty well known among the locals since there are many such establishments around Switzerland. Ya, I think you should go and try one of them soon 😉

  18. Caroline

    I really enjoyed reading this. Not something I’ve heard of before but I can see the appeal. Especially after the mess that is 2020, I think this kind of simple and rustic experience is going to get more popular – we’re all a bit more connected with nature now after going for walks is all we’ve been allowed to do for so long! I have horses so spend a lot of time covered in straw so I’m not sure I’d want to sleep on it too, haha. But I love staying on farms and being around animals 🙂

    • ummi

      Thank you, Caroline. Haha, I suppose this doesn’t have the same kind of appeal for people who are used to playing with straw 😄. But you’re right — it’s still fun to stay on farms and be around animals. I do hope people have started to connect more with nature and make better lifestyle choices in 2020. At least something good has come out of it 🙂

    • ummi

      You’re welcome, Fadima! The next time you’re in Switzerland, you should definitely try it. I think they also have it in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, although not as many. I wouldn’t call it torturing. Haha. It was actually pretty cool and comfortable.

  19. Sis Lin

    Macam-macam pengalamanm yang you ada yee Ummi, sangat istimewanya you dapat round the world.. ini antara satu wislist negara yang Sis nak pergi..one day..
    Lagi satu, terus teringat cerita P Ramlee 3 Andul yang dia kena tidur kandang kuda tu heheee

    • ummi

      Hahaha ya tak ya jugak. Saya tak teringat pulak cerita P. Ramlee tu.
      Apa pun, terima kasih kerana sudi membaca perkongsian kisah travel saya, sis. Semoga sis pun berpeluang untuk bercuti ke sana juga nanti.

    • ummi

      True, Tekkaus! Waking up to that scenery is priceless. I’m sure it would impress anyone, unless you’ve already spent your entire life living in this kind of environment.

    • ummi

      Ruby pun dah pernah sampai Switzerland, ya? Memang cantik kan, negara ni? Bila kita dah menjelajah banyak negara, kadang-kadang kita susah nak rasa ‘impressed’ bila sampai ke tempat baru. Tapi Switzerland ni antara negara yang berjaya menimbulkan rasa takjub. Sebab memang cantik sangat.

    • ummi

      That’s true, Kitkat. When I was young, I used to read a lot of storybooks about horses, so staying on a farm and playing with straw were things that had intrigued me since young. Finally I got to experience it in my thirties 😁

    • ummi

      Thank you, Wawa! Memang best barn hotel ni. I rasa kalau ada budak2, mesti suka main atas katil straw tu. Pastu main dengan lembu & kambing. 😁

    • ummi

      Me too, Rane! Switzerland is one of my favorite countries in Europe. Like you said, the air, the scenery and everything feels better there. Perhaps you could try this type of accommodation on your next visit.

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