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Switzerland Luxury Hotels

Switzerland Luxury Hotels

Old Aug 14, 16, 7:35 am
  #1  
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Switzerland Luxury Hotels

Objectives of this thread
I recently traveled quite a lot in Switzerland. Given the relative dearth of coverage on Switzerland in this forum, I have decided to open a new thread on Swiss luxury hotels.
All reviews refer to stays in the last ~12 months. I plan to add more in the future.
For reference, below are some existing threads:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...va-hotels.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...andermatt.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...itzerland.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...nd-zurich.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...endations.html


Swiss luxury hotel sector
In Switzerland, there are 93 hotels classified as five star, out of which 41 belong to Swiss Deluxe Hotels, a local association that attempts to bring together the leading hotels. International brands play a limited role only (essentially, focused on Geneva), and many hotels remain under family ownership. Some of the earliest luxury hotels in Switzerland have been founded in the 1850s/1860s, so it is not uncommon for hotels to be celebrating their 150 year anniversary.
The following links lead to current member hotels:
https://www.hotelleriesuisse.ch/en/p...ers/hotels.cfm
http://www.swissdeluxehotels.com/en/hotel

Tourism in Switzerland has been struggling quite a bit over the last few years, as the ski season has become shorter, and as the continued appreciation of the Swiss Franc has made competing destinations (e.g., Austria) comparatively cheaper. The luxury end has held up well, though.

Attached, I have put together a table indicating location and affiliations of each hotel:
Attached Images
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:36 am
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Villa Honegg, Lake Lucerne, Ennetbürgen

Room type: Junior Suite with Lake view

Setting: Villa Honegg is the smallest 5-Star Superior hotel in Switzerland with just 20 rooms. It is located on a hillside overlooking Lake Lucerne, in a green, rural setting. I found the setting fantastic – in the morning, you can watch the sun rise over the lake, while listening to the sounds of the bells of the cows grazing on the surrounding meadows. The hotel is housed in a beautifully renovated turn-of-the-last century building and has been family-owned throughout.

Room: I would absolutely recommend to book a Junior Suite with lake view (view to the other direction is a mountain view, which is OK, but I would feel I was missing out), and ideally I would book on the first floor. The Junior Suites on the first floor have a large terrace with a table and loungers, while the rooms on the higher floors only have narrow balconies.
Our room was in mint condition, and I very much liked the design. Dark wood floor, high-quality fabrics, and a large bath with double sink and separate tub and shower. There were a couple of special touches, such as a warm blanket for lounging on the terrace, and a pair of binoculars. Toiletries were Hermès. Minibar was included in the rate and well-stocked with soft drinks. There was also a Nespresso machine.

Food: The hotel has one restaurant, 14 Gault Millau points (plus room service, plus a snack menu on the terrace). We had one dinner in the restaurant and enjoyed it. The menu is based on locally sourced ingredients, for example local fish from the lake, prepared in a light contemporary style. Very attentive service. The wine list is fine, too, but short on wines by the glass and they don’t offer half bottles.
Breakfast is Ă la carte, and taken in the same restaurant or on the terrace. Quality is very good; guests are provided with a bread basket, a small selection of cheese, jam, fruit. Everything else is to order.

Service: Overall excellent and quite personal. Staff will remember who you are. The GM is very present throughout. Nice welcome amenity – fruit plate and a hand puppet for our child.

Pool/Spa: There is an indoor pool and an outdoor pool. The outdoor pool is very special – it has a great view to the lake from high up, and it is heated to 34°, so you can relax and enjoy the view. There is also a small spa area, which we didn’t try though.

Overall: Fantastic stay. Excellent hard and soft product. Great setting. Given its convenient location to Zurich, this is perfect for a short relaxing weekend. Competing places on Lake Lucerne would be the Park Hotel Vitznau (see review) and Park Weggis.
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Last edited by kamel123; Aug 14, 16 at 8:08 am
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:38 am
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Victoria Jungfrau, Bernese Alps, Interlaken

Room type: Deluxe Junior Suite with Jungfrau view

Setting: Victoria-Jungfrau is one of two 5-Star hotels in Interlaken. It’s a grande dame type of place, spread over two historic turn of the century buildings, linked together by a modern lobby. It is located next to the Höhenmatte, a green meadow where paragliders start and land, and faces the Jungfrau mountain in the distance. At 212 rooms it is quite large. Public areas are grand, especially the Brasserie restaurant with historic painted ceilings. The modern lobby in a late 1980s style clashes a bit, but has the potential to become a classic over time.
Interlaken itself is not particularly interesting. It is a medium-sized tourist town at the foot of the Bernese Oberland mountains. As such, you will find many souvenir shops, plenty of low-to-mid-range restaurants catering to tour groups, and even a few ugly 1960s concrete box type of hotel buildings. For a true mountain experience, you need to stay in one of the mountain villages higher up (such as Wengen or Grindelwald). However, Interlaken is more convenient if you also want to explore the wider area. We were happy with our choice of location.

Room: Our Junior Suite was very nice. It felt larger than the 40 sqm indicated in the room description, had a nice wood floor (prefer that over carpets), traditional-style furniture, a small dressing room, a large bathroom with separate shower and two sinks, and two small balconies facing the Jungfrau. Everything in perfect condition. There are some pictures floating around on Tripadvisor showing very old-style bathrooms. Not sure if these are still around, but our room felt fresh.
In terms of room type, I would recommend to book the Jungfrau view over the view out of the back of the hotel (Harder view), but the view out of the back side is bearable. Deluxe Junior Suites seem to have either wood floors or carpeting, so be sure to request what you prefer. I would not book the Bel Air suites, unless you are a true spa enthusiast – they are basically located inside the spa, in a modern annex.

Food: There are multiple restaurants on site, and given that we found the other options in Interlaken not especially attractive, we had dinner in the hotel four times.
La Terrasse is an upscale restaurant with white-glove service, recently renovated. Excellent wine list with ample choice also of half bottles, magnums, wines by the glass. The menu features classic cuisine, prepared in a traditional way. Some dishes feel a bit stuck in another age (prawn cocktail? Coq au vin? Peach melba?), but quality of ingredients and preparation is very high.
Quaranta-Uno is an Italian restaurant, 13 points Gault-Millau. The setting is somewhat strange (in the back of the hotel, without natural light, with a window facing the indoor tennis courts, which they later closed though). Quality of food is very good though. There is a small buffet-style selection of antipasti. The menu features carefully updated Italian classics (e.g., beef carpaccio, grilled sea bass).
Finally, there is the Victoria Terrasse, a casual option. Room service has the same menu and comes from the same kitchen, and was actually excellent. We have experienced many times that room service is not up to par in otherwise great hotels – not the case here. Can absolutely recommend the fillet of beef from the Emmental region, high quality meat expertly prepared.
Children are treated very well in the restaurants. They get a small bag with pens and stickers at the beginning of the meal to keep them occupied. My daughter was even allowed into the kitchen to help the patissier prepare her own dessert.
Overall, the hotel could be just a tad more creative in their dining offerings – having a diverse set of international guests as well as many regulars, it seems like they want to err on the side of caution and keep everything very traditional. As described above, the quality is great, so that’s not the issue.
Breakfast is a large buffet with an ample choice of cheese, meet, fruit, yoghurts, hot dishes. Egg dishes are prepared freshly on request. There is a special children’s section with smoothies etc.

Service: Very good throughout. Efficient housekeeping with turn-down done at the right time. Attentive service in the restaurants and at breakfast. Efficient check-in/check-out. GM very present. Only small hiccup – they made us wait 20+ minutes for our car on check-out, left a bad last impression.

Pool/Spa: There is large indoor pool with two jacuzzis, a small outdoor pool, sauna, treatment rooms etc. This is actually a big plus. After a day spent exploring the mountains, it was nice to return in the late afternoon and relax.

Overall: Very good stay. We were a bit skeptical before given a few mixed reviews, but we didn’t encounter any issues. The hard product is excellent, and service was faultless, too.
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Last edited by kamel123; Aug 14, 16 at 10:13 am
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:39 am
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Dolder Grand, Zurich

Room type: Junior Suite Superior

Setting: The Dolder is located ~15-25 minutes (depending on traffic) from Zurich downtown on a hillside, in Zurich’s most exclusive residential area Zürichberg, looking down on the lake and the city. It’s a leafy and green setting, with the woods starting right at the back of the hotel. The location has its upsides and downsides – perfect for a relaxing stay, removed from the hustle and bustle, not ideal if you want a choice of restaurants in walking distance. Also, weekday traffic in the mornings and evenings is pretty heavy, so if attending business meetings downtown, I would prefer to stay in the city.
The Dolder consists of the original turn-of-the 19th century building, and two modern additions left and right, designed by Norman Foster. Tastes vary, but we found these additions to be quite respectful to the historic building in the middle.
Public areas are quite grand. Especially the lobby is atmospheric. There is a large woodburning fireplace, a nice view towards Lake Zurich, and very comfortable sofas. On the walls, a serious collection of modern art (the personal property of the billionaire hotel owner), with numerous museum quality pieces (such as a large Gerhard Richter).

Room: We opted for a junior suite in the original building, and were happy with it. Dark wood floor, view to the lake, classic-style furniture but with contemporary touches, modern technology (e.g., B&O TV, room controls). I would always prefer the original building over the new additions as I feel it provides more sense of place, but the new building comes with the option of a lake-facing balcony also in lower room categories, which is a plus.

Food: Breakfast is ŕ-la-carte, and service-wise, this was one of the best ŕ-la-carte breakfasts we have had so far. We have found that ŕ-la-carte breakfasts can get inconvenient when you have to ask for every yoghurt, bread roll, etc. separately, but here it worked perfectly. Staff always turned up at the right time to bring e.g., another cup of coffee, made suggestions as to what we could order, remembered preferences from the prior day, and all this while remaining discreetly in the background. High quality dishes – great cheese, great egg dishes.
We did not try the gourmet restaurant, just had room service once. Pricey, but nice selection, nicely presented, and of high quality. Flexible in accommodating off-menu requests. Also, very nice snack menu in the lobby, featuring classics such as club sandwich and beef carpaccio, expertly prepared.

Pool/Spa: Not much to say other than my wife enjoyed her treatments (massages) very much.

Service: Excellent throughout. Every staff member we met was particularly friendly, and everything worked seamlessly.

Overall: Top-notch stay throughout. Pricey, but worth it. The local competition would be the Baur au Lac (downtown, at the lake), the Widder (downtown, spread over a number of historical townhouses), and potentially the Park Hyatt (downtown, modern). The Dolder is unique for its urban-resort like location.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:39 am
  #5  
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Hotel Schweizerhof, Berne

Room type: Deluxe Plus King

Setting: The Schweizerhof is located right next to the Berne train station, in easy walking distance to the old town. Given its location, there can be a bit of noise at night. Despite good soundproofing don’t expect pin drop quiet. Also, views are of the train station and neighboring buildings. Fine, but not scenic.
The hotel originally opened in 1913 Inside, it has been completely refurbished after having been taken over by Qatar in 2011. It is part of the Murwab Collection of hotels (including one other hotel in Switzerland and a few hotels in Qatar). At 99 rooms, I would say it is medium-sized – it has a slightly boutiquey feel, but not quite.
Interior design is contemporary (done by MVK design). The lobby area is quite nice, although very compact.

Room: We were happy with our Deluxe Plus King room. It was spacious enough (34 sqm). Finishes were of good quality – we especially liked the herringbone wood floor. The bathroom was windowed, with double sinks, large tub and separate shower. The minibar was complimentary, and there was also a Nespresso machine. There is a sofa and a desk with all the required electrical outlets in the right places.

Food: Breakfast is ŕ-la-carte, taken in Jack’s Brasserie. Ambience is nice, it is an original French-style brasserie with wood paneling and leather benches. Food quality is good, nice eggs benedict and waffles.
In the evening Jack’s is a 14 Gault Millau points restaurant, serving French bistrot fare. Its kitchen is also responsible for room service, which we found very solid – if you are hungry, try the huge veal schnitzel.
On the hotel’s rooftop, there is the Sky Terrace, open in good weather. It enjoys a nice view of Berne towards the Alps, which is especially nice at sunset. It is mostly a bar, with lounge seating, but there are also a few tables for dining. The menu consists essentially of salads and grilled dishes prepared directly at the table. Reservations are recommended – they do their best to accommodate hotel guests, but the place is small and fills up quickly.

Spa: There is a spa, but we didn’t visit it, so no comment.

Service: Service was fine throughout. The GM is present. Housekeeping worked very well, with turndown performed consistently at the right time when we were out for dinner. We received a nice welcome amenity (fruit platter), and complimentary public transport passes. Our child received a tiger-themed amenity (stuffed animal, wash cloth, towel), which she liked.
Small hiccup – they made us wait for >30 minutes for our luggage on check-out, and my increasingly impatient complaints were just met with promises that it will arrive soon.

Overall: A fine stay, especially the hard product is good. The local contender in Berne is the Bellevue Palace, right next to the Swiss parliament building. I chose not to book it as I felt rooms look a bit tired even on their own website pictures. However, it comes with a view towards the river Aare and the Alps, a restaurant with a terrace with the same views, and grand public areas, so I might reconsider next time.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:40 am
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La Reserve, Geneva, Bellevue

Room type: Junior Suite King

Setting: La Réserve is located in the Geneva suburb of Bellevue, 15-30 minutes by car to Geneva downtown depending on traffic. There is a large garden, with an outdoor pool , and outdoor restaurant, and a children’s play area with a huge tree house. There is also a lake view from the upper floor, but quite obscured by trees. La Réserve bills itself as an urban resort, and as such is unique in Geneva. We booked it as we wanted an outdoor pool (which none of the usual suspects such as FS, MO, … have).
The building is a two-story structure from 1969, fully refurbished in 2003, with interior design done by Jacques Garcia. There are 102 rooms – some of them have recently had a soft renovation. Public areas are very atmospheric. Jacques Garcia has chosen a safari theme, with dark wood and rich velvet fabrics. The one part of the design we did not like was the extremely dark hallways – it is meant to be that way, but it doesn’t work.
The hotel is owned and managed by Michel Reybier hospitality (also managing the La Réserve hotels in Paris and at the Côte d’Azur, and with an ownership interest in further Swiss luxury hotels).
The location has its downsides, frankly. If you look at it on Google maps, you will see La Réserve is right in the flight path of Geneva airport. Also, there is a relatively busy train line passing by at the back of the hotel. Towards the front, the hotel is separated from the lake by a busy road. There is a pedestrian tunnel passing under the road in order to reach the lake shore. However, the area at the lake shore is essentially a boat dock only – there are no loungers, no service.
I found the noise was OK during the day, but sitting on our terrace in the evening was a bit less enjoyable with the intermittent sound of starting planes.

Room: We were underwhelmed with our Junior Suite. It was an upgrade, and it was part of the renovated rooms, so we did not complain. What we did not like was the view. The website says Junior Suites have a lake view or a garden view. We received the latter, which in our case meant a view of the graveled roof of the garage, and some tennis courts, with the train passing by in the background. Also, the room felt small. There was a sofabed, which was converted into a bed for our child. Consequently, there was no seating in the room except small armchairs. We would have prepared to keep the sofa, and have a rollaway bed, but there would not have been enough space. There was a terrace with two loungers, but given the lack of view and noise from the planes, it did not get much use. The bathroom was fine, with double sinks and separate shower. The minibar was complimentary, and there was also a Nespresso machine.
In terms of room selection, I would a book a room category with a guaranteed lake view, preferably in the upper floor of the main building, and preferably a suite.

Food: Breakfast is a buffet. The quality was excellent – some of the best fruit I have ever had on a hotel buffet, very carefully selected. Also very nice pastries and egg dishes.
There are three on site restaurants, a French one (Le Loti, where also breakfast is served), a Chinese one (Tse Fung), and an outdoor restaurant (Le Lodge). We only tried the last one, and were happy with the food. The focus is on freshly grilled fish and meat dishes. The fish was very fresh. We also liked the casual atmosphere – they go for a Mediterranean beach club vibe.
There is also pool service, but prices are excessive. A fruit salad (again – excellent quality fruit) is CHF 62. The same fruit salad as dessert in the restaurant is CHF 25. They sell it as a sharing platter, that’s how they justify the price markup, but quantity was roughly the same, so the price is just ridiculous.

Pool/Spa: There is a decently sized outdoor pool with ample loungers. There is also a spa, but we didn’t visit it, so no comment.
Service: Service was uneven. The concierge got us the restaurant reservations we wanted in Geneva, the valet was friendly and efficient, service in the restaurants and around the pool was good. Front desk and especially housekeeping was a mess.
It started with a slightly bungled check-in experience. We had called ahead to request an early check-in, which they would not guarantee (fine). When we arrived at 12:30, they promised to have our room ready by 2 PM the latest, though (official check-in time is 3 PM). We had lunch in the hotel restaurant. When we returned at 2:15, the room was not ready. So they gave us a tour of the spa (which we were not really interested in, but OK to kill the time). After the tour was finished, the room was still not ready. When we finally could enter the room, after waiting another 15 minutes in the lobby, there was no welcome note or amenity, they brought it later. Not a big issue, but could have been handled better overall.
Second day, we returned to the room at 4:30 after spending the day touring Geneva, and the room had not been serviced. When I called to complain, they offered to send someone right away, which I declined since we wanted to use the room. I asked them to send housekeeping later, specifying a time when we would be out. Still, they sent someone immediately, who was very insistent to do service, and who I had to literally fend off.
Third day, they didn’t do turndown. We gave up and put our young daughter to bed. They finally came after 10 PM knocking loudly on the door nearly waking up my daughter.
I am not sure whether this was bad luck (based on just one stay), but the issue seemed to be systematic. I don’t expect housekeeping to wait in front of my room in order to rush in when I have left. But come on – the evening they missed turndown, we ate dinner in the hotel restaurant between 7-9 PM. That should be more than enough time to do turndown, and it should be obvious that guests with young children don’t want turndown after 10 PM.
Our daughter got a nice stuffed elephant as a welcome amenity. We got – a few apples. After the housekeeping issues they brought as plate of petit fours, at least.
A highlight though was the complimentary shuttle boat to Geneva, running once per hour. It is a traditional Venetian wooden boat. The ride takes ~20 minutes (which may actually be faster than taking the car, depending on traffic), and is quite scenic, with views of Montblanc.

Overall: We enjoyed our stay despite the negatives. The hotel seems to be a fixture on the local social scene, with most visitors to the restaurant and the pool being locals, judging from the number plates in the car park. This gave a sense of place and provided for some people watching. I am not sure if I will return though. If you want to be in Geneva and want an outdoor pool, this is it – otherwise, there are more attractive options in terms of room product, and with more consistent service.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:41 am
  #7  
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Beau Rivage Palace, Lake Geneva, Lausanne

Room type: Junior Suite, Palace wing

Setting: Beau Rivage Palace is located in Lausanne-Ouchy, at lake Geneva. Downtown Lausanne is a 10-15 minute car ride, depending on traffic. The hotel as ample gardens, with two pools, tennis courts, and lounge seating. In front is the nicely arranged lakeside promenade.
The original hotel was founded in 1861, and has not been closed for a single day since. In 1908, an extension was built, so the hotel now consists of two wings, the Beau Rivage and the Palace wing. Today, it has 170 rooms. Public areas are about as palatial as it gets. There is a grand lobby, and a grand ballroom.
However, the hotel has been constantly maintained and upgraded. Rooms in the Palace wing have been refurbished in 2012The interior design is by Jean-Yves Rochon. The breakfast room, the bar, and some of the restaurants are also new. Everything is spotless.
This hotel is the truest incarnation of a grande dame I have visited so far. It is owned by the Sandoz family foundation (the family originally behind the pharmaceuticals giant Novartis), which also owns a few other hotels in Switzerland, including the neighboring Hotel d’Angleterre.

Room: Our room was lovely. We were on the third floor, with two lakeside balconies, enjoying a fantastic view over Lake Geneva. The room was spacious, with a sofa, very comfortable armchairs, a desk, another small table, and plenty of room for a rollaway bed for our child. It also had a historic fireplace. We particularly liked the bathroom. It was windowed, with a nice, freestanding tub in front of the window, separate shower and powder room. There was also a separate dressing area. The Jean-Yves Rochon interior design was classic, yet updated – a crčme and white color schemes, and well co-ordinated fabrics.
There was also a Nespresso machine. The minibar was payable, but very nicely stocked, for example with organic fruit juices from a local brand. I also liked that the hotel still uses actual room keys, instead of cards.
In terms of room selection, I would recommend a room in the Palace Wing, as these have been refurbished. The Beau Rivage wing is more classic in style, with old wood floors and silk fabrics. A lake view is definitely worth booking – we spent substantial time on our balcony watching the boats passing by. Request a higher floor for a good view.

Pool/Spa: There is a decently sized outdoor pool with ample loungers, and a second indoor/outdoor pool. The garden area is extensive, and also includes a children’s play area, tennis courts, and lounge seating. There is also a spa, but we didn’t visit it, so no comment. Service around the pool is fine.
Service: Service was very good throughout. Everything worked seamlessly from start to finish.
The welcome amenity was very generous, including fresh flowers, champagne, fruit, and a separate amenity for our child with cookies, more fruit, and juice.

Food: The hotel has 3 restaurants, the Café Beau Rivage with French bistrot fare, the two-star Anne-Sophie Pic, and a Japanese restaurant. We only tried the Café Beau Rivage, and were very happy. It is run like a traditional French brasserie, with an ample choice of fish and meat dishes, and an impressive dessert cart.
Room service has an extensive selection and arrived very fresh.
Breakfast is a buffet, with a very ample selection of cold and hot dishes, including some special features such as fruit smoothies, and egg dishes prepared to order. Everything we ate was of high quality. The outside terrace with a view of the garden is also very nice.
Only issue: They need to do something about the birds. There is an infestation of sparrows, and they will immediately have a go at the bread basket once a guest gets up to get something else from the buffet. They should at least provide some covers/netting to be put over the food.

Overall: We enjoyed our stay very much, and would be very happy to return. This place is ideal for spending a relaxing weekend around the pool, or as a base for exploring the region. The local competition in Lausanne is the Lausanne Palace and Spa (located downtown, i.e., not at the lake ), and the recently opened Royal Lausanne (located close to the lake, but a few roads inwards). I haven’t stayed in either, but I feel they cannot compare in terms of location.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:42 am
  #8  
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Grand Hotel du Lac, Lake Geneva, Vevey

Room type: Junior Suite

Setting: Grand Hotel du Lac is located in Vevey, at the lake promenade. Vevey center is a short stroll along the lake.
The original hotel was founded in 1868. Today it has 50 rooms. The hotel was fully refurbished in 2006, with interior design by Pierre-Yves Rochon. It is in fact not dissimilar to Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne, but is much more intimate in scale. Public areas are small in scale but full of character. For example, there is a boudoir-like oriental salon.
The hotel is independently owned and managed, and affiliated to Relais & Chateaux.

Room: Our Junior Suite was located at a corner, facing the lake, on the first floor. It had windows on two sides, a windowed bathroom, and a small lake-facing balcony. We liked the Pierre-Yves Rochon interior design – classic, but not frumpy. The room had space for a sofa, two armchairs, and a rollaway bed for our child. There was also a Nespresso machine. We liked the room.
In terms of room selection, there are lake view and city view junior suites, all in the same category, but we requested and the hotel guaranteed a lake view on booking. For the best view, request a higher floor – the view from the first floor is partially obstructed by trees. Also, there is only one true suite in the hotel. More suites are bookable, but they are actually connecting rooms where a small hallway is closed off to create a joint entrance.


Pool/Spa: The hotel has a small but very nice garden facing the lake. There is also a small outdoor pool with a few loungers around it. We were disappointed that they would not serve food at the pool. This is not a resort, but rather an intimate city hotel with a pool in the garden. There is also a spa, which we did not visit.

Food: The hotel has three restaurants, the gourmet restaurant Les Saisons (unfortunately closed for summer), La Veranda, serving a traditional French menu, and the outdoor Marina Garden lounge, serving snacks and a light summer cuisine. We tried the latter two and were very happy with our food.
Breakfast is a buffet. We were not overwhelmed by the breadth of the selection, but everything was there. Very attentive service at breakfast, good egg dishes.

Service: Excellent. Given the intimate scale, people will remember your name and your preferences very quickly. Housekeeping worked very well, service in the restaurants was very attentive, and valet and front desk were efficient.
There was a nice welcome amenity, and free afternoon snacks (e.g., pastries, fruit) brought to the room every afternoon. Our daughter’s bed was decorated with balloons, and she received a small book with a children’s story involving the hotel.

Overall: We enjoyed our stay, and quite liked the quiet, intimate setting. We chose Vevey as a base over the neighboring Montreux. Montreux is clearly livelier, but also has a fair bit of 1970s concrete box eyesores. In Vevey, the local contender is the Hotel Trois Couronnes, also located at the lake promenade. It does not have an outdoor pool, and rooms look a bit tired from the website, that’s why we opted for Grand Hotel du Lac. Another alternative would be Le Mirador Resort in Mont Pélerin. I stayed there when it was still a Kempinski. It is located high up the hill, and the lake view is stunning, especially in the morning. Can’t comment on how it is now – my last stay was years ago.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:43 am
  #9  
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The Alpina, Gstaad

Room type: Grand Deluxe Suite

Setting: Perfect. The Alpina is located in the Oberbort area of Gstaad, upwards from the center of the village, with a view of mountains in the distance, and green hills, chalets, and the towers of the Gstaad Palace hotel in the foreground. Imagine a Swiss fairytale mountain village – this is it.
The Alpina was built in 2012, it is rumored at a cost of CHF 336 million, or upwards of CHF 5 million per room (52 rooms), financed with the sale of chalets in the area surrounding the hotel (of which the Russian billionaire Rybolovlev is rumored to have bought three).
I have hardly seen such a level of investment before. The hotel entrance is completely underground, so that the view from the hotel is not marred by parking cars. The architecture is in keeping with the style of the local chalets. Many original elements have been sourced, such as the painted ceiling above the main lobby, which is from 1780.
There is also a quite serious modern art collection, with works from artists such as Tracey Emin or Alex Katz.

Room: We stayed in a Grand Deluxe Suite. The room was impressive, with a very spacious open-plan layout. There is a full-size dining table, a large corner sofa, a gas fireplace with additional seating, a dressing room, and a large bathroom with an additional powder room. The design is contemporary chalet style, but with some historical furniture, such as wooden trunks, sprinkled in. There is a minibar cabinet with Nespresso machine and sink. There is also a dressing room, and ample closet space. We had the view towards Gstaad village, and I could have spent hours just lounging on the balcony. The bathroom was done in a very clean contemporary style, with Acqua di Parma toiletries.
My favorite high-tech feature in the room: there were apparently some motion detectors around the bed, and when you would get up at night, a small lamp shining downwards from the bedside table would light up automatically in order to help you find your way around.
In terms of room selection, opt for the view towards Gstaad village. The view in the other direction is supposed to be OK also, but less off high mountains, rather of hills. Also, be aware that Grand Deluxe Suites are open-plan, i.e., the bedroom cannot be closed off.
Pool/Spa: There is a large indoor pool. It is very nicely designed with natural light streaming in from above, and there is also a children’s waterslide. Also, there is an heated outdoor pool. We did not visit the Spa.

Food: In Summer, there are three restaurants, the casual Alpina Lounge (with a menu focused on grilled dishes, as well as a separate menu of “healthy” cuisine), a Japanese restaurant, and the gourmet restaurant Le Sommet (open only for dinner). In winter, there is also an additional restaurant serving traditional Swiss dishes.
We only tried the Alpina Lounge. The setting on the terrace with a view of the garden was nice. The food was excellent, but excessively priced. Grilled lamb chops were CHF 72, for example (fair enough – at the upper end of, but not totally out of line with Swiss luxury hotel pricing). Not acceptable was the “whole langouste tail” at CHF 105. If they had really served a langouste, OK – but I was served large prawns. I was not in the mood for complaining, the prawns also tasted fine, but this is taking advantage of your guests.
In a similar vein, the room service menu is quite limited. In terms of meat dishes, there is a burger, a veal schnitzel, and the wagyu steak priced at CHF 115 for the small version and CHF 140 for the large version. I wouldn’t be surprised if they might serve a “normal” steak on request, but it is a bit cheeky to just put the most expensive variety on the menu.

Service: Excellent. Every staff member we met was friendly and attentive. Housekeeping worked perfectly.
There was a huge welcome amenity (2 bottles of wine, plate of dried meats, plate of cheese, plate of fruit, chocolates, fruit, flowers) waiting for us, and a stuffed ibex waiting for our child.
There is also a complimentary limousine shuttle to Gstaad village and back.
Only small area of improvement: We were persistently addressed in English by staff. It’s fine, and likely results from the hotel getting mostly international guests, but it doesn’t contribute to creating a sense of place (and it’s unnecessary, as I understand/speak all three Swiss languages).

Overall: Great place. I feel this is what a mountain resort should be like. There are 3 other luxury hotels in Gstaad, including the grande dame Gstaad Palace, and I would be curious to try them, but will return to the Alpina.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:44 am
  #10  
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The Chedi, Andermatt

Room type: Grand Deluxe Room

Setting: Well. The Chedi Andermatt is owned by Egyptian billionaire property developer and hotelier Sami Sawiris. Andermatt used to have a large military garrison, and when the military vacated most of the premises, Sawiris bought the terrain, with the aim of developing 6 hotels with >800 rooms in total, ~500 residences, 20-30 villas, and a golf course. The Chedi hotel and residences is the first project that was finished, most of the rest is still under construction.
From my perspective, it’s a huge bet. I am in no position to question Mr. Sawiris business case, but after having seen the development with my own eyes, I would be highly surprised if the investment ultimately pays off. Part of the rationale is that Andermatt can be reached in less than two hours from the Zurich, Geneva, and Milan airports, i.e., is easier to reach than traditional Swiss mountain destinations such as St. Moritz, Gstaad, or Zermatt. Also, given the location in a relatively narrow valley, there is guaranteed snow in winter and a long ski season.
On the other hand, if Switzerland has one thing, then it is an abundance of stunning mountain scenery and picturesque villages. Andermatt has neither. The village is fine, and many buildings have been renovated after the Chedi came, but don’t expect a wooden chalet village. The surrounding mountains are also OK, but nowhere near as impressive as in the traditional Swiss mountain destinations. Overall, I feel Andermatt is a strange choice of location for a luxury hotel. We arrived from Gstaad, and were quite underwhelmed.
Also, the Chedi is open year round, in contrast to the vast majority of mountain hotels in Switzerland that open only for the ski season and for 2 months in summer. At 104 rooms plus residences it is a quite large place, also. Occupancy in 2015 was 30%.
The Chedi itself is very nice, though. It has been designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, and the crossover between Asian and Swiss mountain style works very well. Public space, such as the large lobby with multiple fireplaces, the library, and multiple additional lounges, are all very well executed.
Room: We stayed in a Grand Deluxe Room. We liked the room – classic Jean-Michel Gathy design – but there were also some design flaws. The room was very spacious at roughly 60 sqm. On one side was a bed, on the other side a sofa, and in the middle a low table with four cushions on the floor. The bathroom was semi-open, but could be closed off. There was also a balcony, and an indoor/outdoor gas fireplace. The (complimentary soft drinks) minibar contained a full size wine fridge with a nice selection of wines, and a coffee machine.
I felt the use of the space was inefficient. The room could have easily fit a desk, and 1-2 lounge chairs. We did not use the low table with the cushions – I don’t like sitting on the floor. Room service was uncomfortable – they rolled in a normal height table, but there were no chairs to actually sit at the table. The balcony was not really useful because there was absolutely no privacy at all, with multiple other balconies in plain view. Also, the room was always very dark, despite sunny weather outside, as a result of some wooden sheathing to the façade. Overall, this was a case of form over function – nice to look at, and comfortable enough, but it would have been easy to improve the room without sacrificing the design.
Our room was on the highest floor, but still our view over Andermatt village was a bit underwhelming.

Pool/Spa: Excellent. There is a very large indoor pool (35m long), with plenty of natural light streaming in. There is also a heated outdoor pool. Pool service is very good, with complimentary water and nibbles provided, and a nice choice of drinks and snacks, such as smoothies to order. Pay attention to the wood floor though, which is extremely slippery.
There is also a large spa, that we did not visit.

Food: There are two restaurants on-site, The Restaurant serving both Asian and Swiss dishes, and a Japanese restaurant. We ate in the Restaurant once: an Asian tasting menu, a fusion of Chinese, Thai, and Indian dishes, which we enjoyed. Design of the restaurant again is very nice, and service is attentive. We also had room service, mostly Asian dishes, which were executed well.
Breakfast is a buffet, and is OK, but not exceptional. They make a big fuss about cheese: In the middle of the restaurant, there is a 5 metres high walk-in cheese “tower”, where cheeses are stacked for maturation. The actual cheeses on offer were nothing special, though, unfortunately.
In the afternoon, very tasty cakes are served in the lobby.

Service: Attentive throughout. A young, dynamic team. The only issue we once had was a >20 minute wait for a coffee in the lobby.

Overall: The hotel is great, but this will likely remain a one-time experience for us. I don’t feel Andermatt and the surrounding area are really worth returning to.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:45 am
  #11  
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Park Hotel, Lake Lucerne, Vitznau

Room type: Lake Residence

Setting: Fantastic. Vitznau is a village on the north shore of Lake Lucerne, around 30-40 minutes from Lucerne or 45-60 minutes from Zurich. The Park Hotel is located right at the lake, with a 180° view of the lake and the mountains on the opposite shore. There is sun all day long, and nice sunsets in the evening.
The Park Hotel is housed in a historical building from 1901 but the interior was completely redone in a contemporary style in 2013 The hotel is owned by Austrian investor Peter Pühringer, whose family office is located on the top floor of the building.
There is a terrace and very nice gardens leading to the lakeshore. There is also a boat dock, and a swimming platform with a waterslide inside the lake. One slightly cheesy feature: A large bronze sculpture of a bull and a bear, constantly turning.

Room: We stayed in a Lake Residence. There are in total 47 rooms. Each room is differently designed and named. Our room was the “Winner’s suite” – each floor has a theme, and we were on the “Finance” floor. The suite was stunning. There was a lake view to two sides, as well as two lakeside balconies. Sitting on the balcony watching the sunset was nice.
Inside the suite, there was a living room with a chesterfield sofa, armchairs, and a small kitchenette, a bedroom with a desk, and a partially open plan bathroom in a contemporary design with a freestanding tub and Antonio Lupi fixtures. Overall very comfortable.
In terms of room selection, there is quite a price premium for lake view (e.g., lake view junior suites are substantially pricier than mountain view suites), but a lake view is an absolute must at this place, I feel.

Food: Fantastic. There is a two-star Michelin restaurant on site, a one-star Michelin restaurant, and an outdoor restaurant on the terrace directly at the lakeshore. Very impressive for a place with less than 50 rooms.
We tried the one-star Michelin restaurant (Prisma), and were extremely happy. The setting is very nice, on a shaded terrace facing the lake. Cuisine has an emphasis on natural dishes with regional ingredients, such as fish from the lake. The chef was flexible to change the preparation of some dishes to accommodate our food preferences, and the staff was very kind to our young child, so this is not at all a stuffy place, just excellent food in a relaxed setting.
We also tried the lakeside restaurant, where the emphasis is on grilled meat and fish. Much simpler cuisine, but well prepared. Great selection of desserts on display.
There is also an extremely extensive wine list, with many rare varieties, such as magnums of Chateau Petrus from different vintages.
Breakfast is a combination of ŕ-la-carte and buffet, with a bread basket, cheese and meat platter brought to the table. Excellent pastries, juices, fruit.

Pool/Spa: The pool is a real highlight. It is an indoor/outdoor infinity type pool, with a view of the lake. There is also an additional hot outdoor pool. The spa is done in a sleek modern design with a large saltwater aquarium.

Service: Excellent from start to finish, and very personal. Staff always knew what we were up to. Very nice welcome amenity with macarons and fruit and fresh flowers. And a great upgrade from a deluxe junior suite to a lake residence.

Overall: Our stay was excellent from start to finish – great location, great room product, great food, great pool, great service. The hotel is pricey even for Swiss standards (CHF 1,700 for a Deluxe Junior Suite for our dates), but after having experienced it, I would say its justified: low room count, high staff-to-guest ratio, very high quality build and upkeep. Will be glad to return.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:46 am
  #12  
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Mandarin Oriental, Geneva

Room type: Deluxe Room

Setting: The hotel is located in downtown Geneva and faces the river. It has been fully renovated in 2013. The location is very convenient (Geneva is compact, but the traffic is terrible), but you will not have a lake view. Public areas are nice, but I didn’t find them particularly memorable – sort of international luxury hotel style, could be anywhere.

Room: I had a Deluxe Room facing the river. Everything new, all the usual amenities present. Contemporary design. The patterned wallpaper was not to my liking – it clashed with pattern of the carpet, and gave the room a busy feel.

Food: Breakfast was fine – high-quality choices. At the same time, the breakfast room was not particularly impressive – relatively low ceilings, and the terrace at street level didn’t feel particularly luxurious.
We also had lunch at the Indian restaurant Rasoj by Vineet. This was a perfect experience from start to finish – highly recommended. Good balance between contemporary and more traditional Indian dishes, plush setting, very attentive service.

Service: Fine. My room was not ready on arrival although this was after official check-in time, but in this specific instance, it was not an issue for me.

Overall: Not sure I would return. There was nothing wrong with the hotel or the service. On the other hand, there was nothing impressive either, and given the vast choice of hotels in Geneva all located very close to each other, I would likely try another one (e.g., FS) first.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 7:55 am
  #13  
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Wow, thanks for taking the time to write all of these reviews!

I've had my eye on Villa Honegg for a while. Would you say that for a couple looking for something active to do in the summer (hiking, kayaking, etc...), this area has enough to keep us busy for 3-4 days? Or is it more of a "sit on property and relax" type place?

Would any of the other properties fit the bill here? Particularly interested in easy access to scenic half/full-day hikes, and smaller, more boutique properties (versus the palaces and grand dames).
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Old Aug 14, 16, 8:04 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by LM225 View Post
Wow, thanks for taking the time to write all of these reviews!

I've had my eye on Villa Honegg for a while. Would you say that for a couple looking for something active to do in the summer (hiking, kayaking, etc...), this area has enough to keep us busy for 3-4 days? Or is it more of a "sit on property and relax" type place?

Would any of the other properties fit the bill here? Particularly interested in easy access to scenic half/full-day hikes, and smaller, more boutique properties (versus the palaces and grand dames).
We mostly relaxed, but Villa Honegg would definitely be suited for hiking. There are easy hikes starting directly from the property, with nice views of Lake Lucerne. If you are into more difficult hikes, I would recommend hiring a car (although I am sure the hotel will also arrange). Some of the best known Swiss mountains are close (such as Mount Pilatus, Mount Rigi, Titlis). There is also the picturesque old town of Lucerne. Another activity is a boat tour on Lake Lucerne. I have not seen kayaking, but should be possible.

In the area there is also Park Hotel Vitznau (on the northern shore of Lake Lucerne, you can actually see it from Villa Honegg) - see my other review. This place is grander (although also smaller at <50 rooms), has better choice of gourmet food, but is also pricier. We enjoyed both.
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Old Aug 14, 16, 9:35 am
  #15  
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Wonderful series of reviews. I particularly like the sounds of Villa Honegg. The views and the size of the property have great appeal.

Thank you for all the work it took to write these.
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