Room for Gemütlichkeit

In the Bavarian and Austrian Alps, a Stube is a gathering place to slow down for sustenance and storytelling. In the German-speaking mountain regions, the Stube has traditionally been and still is today the heart of an alpine home. The parlor. It’s where the family eats, socializes, solves problems, celebrates birthdays, raises children, laughs, and cries together. In this room, “family” in truth can morph into any iteration bonded by a chosen connectedness that trumps blood and wedding bands. Neighbors playing cards on a dark winter’s night. A knitting circle looping yarn in silence. A clique of youngsters bantering at one friend’s house before a night out around the village.

“The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift.”

— Laurie Colwin


The Stube typically has a large wooden table to gather around—such as this sublimely simple exemplar by Fraai Berlin—and a woodstove. The traditional seating setup is an L-shaped wooden bench built into the focal corner of the Stube. If the family celebrates the region’s inveterate traditions and customs of the prevalent Catholic religion, a carved Jesus Christ looks down over that table from his wooden cross high up in the nook the locals call Herrgottswinkel—God’s corner.

A namesake style of alpine folklore—sylvan songs accompanied often by zither and guitar—fills the Stube... Stubenmusik. △