One of Zurich’s fanciest city hotels, the Baur au Lac enjoys a surprisingly leafy and tranquil location bordering landscaped gardens not far from the lake and the city centre. Dating from 1844, this may be a traditional place at heart but it’s far from stuffy. Of the two restaurants, the Michelin-starred Pavillon restaurant is the more conventional, serving up fresh takes on classic European dishes in a conservatory-style building with a lovely outdoor terrace. Or head to the funkier Rive Gauche, whose Mediterranean menu and classy cocktails draw punters from beyond the hotel. You can work off your night-time excesses with a session in the rooftop gym overlooking the lake.
Originally opened in 1899, the Dolder Grand was equipped with two additional wings by Norman Foster and re-opened in 2008. It has hosted celebrities like Sophia Loren, Albert Einstein and the Rolling Stones and offers some of the most exquisite accommodation in town. Some love it for its secluded location, but others will miss the city’s hustle and bustle.
There are numerous luxury hotels strung along Geneva’s mega posh Rive Droite, each proffering five star service, idiosyncratically decorated rooms and superlative views of Lake Geneva. However a stay at the Hotel d’Angleterre is certainly an individual experience, if you can afford to have it. Built in 1872, its listed facade hides a hotel that, through recent renovation, now combines traditional luxury with contemporary flair. The decor is almost exhausting in its detail. Each room is designed differently and yours could feature original artworks, marbled floors, elaborate chandeliers and heavily patterned wallpaper – be sure to request a room style you favour when booking. As you’d expect, food is top notch in quality and eye-watering in price (starters from CHF30), regally served in the lakefront Windows restaurant. Guests and interlopers alike may prefer the parlour-style Leopard Bar (the decor is true to the name) for cocktails, posh nibbles and live music.
You wouldn’t expect to find a slice of Africa on the shores of Lake Geneva, but five-star hotel La Réserve tries its best to evoke the sense of luxury you might experience in a big game reserve lodge. Rooms are decorated in muted, earthy tones, with wood floors and rugs patterned in a contemporary faux-animal print. Most encourage you to be at one with nature by featuring patio doors leading on to a balcony or terrace, some opening directly onto the landscaped gardens and swimming pool area. There the tenuous similarity ends, but the hotel has plenty has plenty going for it with or without its African vibe. Particular reasons to visit include the huge spa with its indoor and outdoor pool overlooking Lake Geneva, and the its five restaurants and bars. In summer live music and DJs create a lively atmosphere on the terraces, while in the colder months head to the winter lodge to skate on its private ice rink. The hotel isn’t in the centre of Geneva, but instead of city life you get a leafy setting, uninterrupted lake views and a quicker exit to the towns and villages dotted around the lake.
Claiming to be Geneva’s very first hotel, the Four Seasons has been welcoming upmarket guests to its elegant surroundings since 1834. These days it’s one of a string of luxury hotels sitting regally on the banks of Lake Geneva, but it’s still among the best. The 115 guest rooms are sumptuously decorated with plush fabrics, classic wallpaper, thick draping curtains and chandelier-style light fittings. Many have balconies overlooking the lake. If you can bear to step away from your room, you’ll find more luxury in the spa, including an infinity pool with a superb view, a rooftop terrace and spacious treatment rooms. As for food, munch on seasonal Italian dishes at Il Lago or choose Izumi for high-class Japanese cuisine from the team behind Nobu. The latter has a rooftop terrace perfect for watching the sun go down over the lake.
This elegant five star hotel prides itself equally on its venerable history and its impressive location in the old town. While other luxury hotels woo guests by embracing the latest interiors trends, the Bellevue Palace is wedded to old-world glamour. The period furniture and the on-your-best-behaviour vibe might not suit you if you thirst for the new, but there's nothing stuffy about the service and the rooms are exceptionally comfortable. The flagship restaurant La Terrasse feels like a special occasion-only venue, with its heavy table cloths and impeccable silver, but the bar is a popular nook for an after-work drink, suggesting that the locals have found something to love here. Other amenities include a rooftop sun terrace and a gym, while leisure guests would do well to take advantage of access to the enormous spa at the Bellevue's sister hotel, the Victoria Jungfrau, a day trip away in Interlaken.
Centrally located in Bern, the long-established Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & THE SPA offers luxurious rooms that combine elegant interior design with cutting-edge facilities. It features a spa centre and a trendy rooftop terrace.This 5-star-hotel was completely renovated in 2011, and provides in all rooms a minibar with free soft drinks, tea and beer. Large bathrooms include a rain shower and/or bathtub, towel warmer, complimentary bathrobe and slippers.Every room comes with a Nespresso coffee machine and includes state-of-the-art entertainment facilities, including an IP phone.Schweizerhof Bern & THE SPA boasts a 500 m² wellness centre with a relaxation pool, a sauna, a Turkish bath and a fitness room. The fitness room is available 24 hours a day.Available for dining, Jack’s Brasserie offers a combination of innovative modern cuisine and traditional dishes. Guests can also enjoy a delicious cocktail at the lobby bar, the cigar lounge or on the Sky terrace.Bern Railway Station is across the street and the main sights are easily reachable on foot. The Belp Airport can be reached in a 20 minutes' drive. Guests benefit from free public transport in Bern.
One of Switzerland’s original Palace hotels, this sumptuous affair opened in Lausanne’s lakefront district of Ouchy in 1861 and has hosted royalty, celebrities and famous local residents ever since, from Charlie Chaplin to Nelson Mandela, Coco Chanel to Tina Turner. So it’s not your average hotel, and staying here is no average experience. In keeping with the belle époque building, rooms are classically elegant, with plush fabrics, tapestries and candelabra-style lighting. Most have jacuzzis, so you can sit back in the bubbles and admire the view over the grounds and lake. The ultra-posh Cinq Mondes spa has indoor and outdoor pools, hammam, sauna and a refreshing ‘tropical rain promenade’. There are myriad bars and restaurants to choose from, but the most famous is the one that takes the name of its creator, three Michelin-starred French chef Anne-Sophie Pic, whose menus focus on seasonal, local produce. Thankfully you won’t be short on wine – the cellar here holds 75,000 bottles.
Elegantly perched on the bank of the Rhine, this magnificent 5 star hotel retains much of its original character without being stuffy. At first glance, the imposing entrance lobby and sparkling chandeliers may seem intimidating but the friendly staff and the building’s obvious quirks will quickly make you feel at home. A luxurious experience is guaranteed if you opt for one of the lavish rooms and suites, particularly if you manage to bag a Rhine view. However, you don’t need to be a guest to enjoy the hospitality: if your budget only extends to a single extravagant cocktail, the bar and lobby is a nice venue to enjoy it, either by the fireside or on the river terrace as the season dictates. Proper fine dining comes courtesy of the two Michelin stars twinkling above the door of Cheval Blanc under Chef Peter Knogl, or you can opt for elegant-casual in the Brasserie or Chez Donati. The hotel also offers interesting weekend packages, themed around art and cuisine, if you need inspiration for your holiday in Bern.