There is a small family-run restaurant on the edge of the Lauenensee. It looks almost like a house, and then you see the sign that says 'restaurant'. The food here is typical (kaseschnitten, cabbage, meat and cheese dishes) of the region. They speak German and Swiss-German. They do not take credit cards so be sure to have cash with you!
Favorite Dish: Pilzeschnitte - toasty bread with wild mushroom sauce. Salad was nice - they give you a plate, and you take what you want from the different bowls of vegetables available. Good beer!
There is a bus that goes regularly to the Lauenensee in tourist season. If you want to skip the cost of paying for overnight parking definitely take the bus. The bus schedule is posted near the center of town or from the Gstaad tourist office.
Typical greeting in this area of Switzerland (2 women or man/woman meeting, if you know each other or are introduced by mutual friends) is to give 3 kisses on the cheek, alternating sides.....this is great if you are a woman! (Similar to France, but here it's 2 kisses).
Luggage and bags:
Bring all your hiking gear. If you forget something, Gstaad is the most likely place to buy what you need. It is about 15-20 minutes up the road.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Be sure to bring rain gear and some warm layers. Weather changes quickly and can get cold even in summer when the sun disappears.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring your emergency medical kit for hiking. No mosquitos to speak of. Some flys at lower elevations, but repellent is not really required.
Photo Equipment: Definitely bring a camera and film (or digital with lots of batteries) or you will regret it!
Miscellaneous: German-English dictionary if you are not familiar with the language. (Note that although the local swiss-german language doesn't sound like the german you learned at school, everyone in this area learns 'hoch Deutsch' in school so will understand you)
See the Travelogue and introduction sections. Some very amazing multi-day hiking starts off in this area.
Several peaks are accessible from here - Wildhorn is glacial at 3247m, Geltenhorn is also glacial at 3051, and Arpelistock is 3035m and Hahnenschritthorn is 2834m and can be free of snow in summer.
Equipment: Definitely bring a trail map (detailed survey type map with altitude bars). Rain gear, hiking boots, mountaineering gear if you are going higher up. Tent is not required - several area huts exist. Swiss Alpine Club lists the huts and phone numbers. The trails are very well maintained and common trails are well marked.
The area is called the Berner Oberland, and the largest nearby town is Gstaad. Information about Lauenen hiking can be found on the Gstaad website, and maps etc. can be found in the bookstores in Gstaad.
It is a beautiful beautiful place to hike and climb smaller mountains. It has the typical green rolling hills, taller snow-covered mountains and of course, lots of Swiss farms and cows! This is a tiny town in the heart of the Saanenland, which forms part of the Berner Oberland (Bernese Alps) - also the home of the wonderful Bernese Mountain Dog breed (if you are a dog lover). It is not overly touristy, so the entire place is a bit 'off the beaten path' but there are lots of Swiss people who hike and climb here, so you won't be alone on the trails.
Fondest memory: The beautiful views from the area near the Geltenheutte. Another great memory is finding an old rusting cow bell sitting upside down and filled with water, when we stopped to have lunch high up on a hill. The bell is now at our house (it was not found near any cows or with the leather collar still attached, so we carried it home).