Located high on a hill overlooking the town of Jakar and its elevated fortress, Swiss Guesthouse offers a little taste of Europe in far-off Bumthang. It's run by the family of a Swiss named Fritz Maurer, who came to Bumthang in the 1970s to help create a cheese-making industry and never left.
The guestrooms are large, spartan, and paneled in varnished pinewood, each with a sitting area and a wood-burning stove for warmth (which you may welcome at this elevation of around 2650 meters, or 8700 feet). The attached bathrooms in the newer buildings come equipped with showers. Wifi is available in the main dining room. The environs are tranquil — with an apple orchard surrounding the buildings and the town of Jakar a 10-minute walk away — and the staff very helpful and accommodating to guest needs.
But it's the food that truly sets this guesthouse apart. While the in-house chef is happy to cook Bhutanese dishes on request, the main staples are Swiss favorites like fondue, raclette, and bratwurst. Other Western style items are also on the menu: soups, salads, pork chops and roast chicken, strawberry shortcake and creme caramel for dessert. For breakfast, there's fresh homemade bread, jams and honey, eggs, yogurt, and Swiss-style butter and cheeses like gouda and emmental. All the food is organic and sourced locally. They even have an espresso machine.
The staff can help arrange a tour and tasting at the brewery that Fritz Maurer built and ran for many years, and the bar in the dining room serves up its Red Panda microbrew on draft. Overall it's a way to get your Swiss fix in central Bhutan — Swiss flags, traditional Swiss music piped into the dining, photos of cows grazing in the Alps — and lives up to its billing as a place for “Food, Happiness and Fun.”