There seems to be a definite trend towards giving hotels short – very short – names, in fact just letters. As well as the B2 we have also stayed in the C Hotel near Milan, there are also D & E hotels plus many more right through the alphabet to the W Hotel group, the X Toronto, the Y in Athens and the British Z chain.
Presumably the intention is being more easily memorable but we are not totally convinced. The likes of the Umad Bhawan Palace in Jaipur don’t seem to be troubled by their ‘forgettable’ monikers, and for us a top quality product is a better path to hotel immortality.
Nevertheless the B2 Hotel & Spa in Zurich is a sure fire winner in both brevity and quality. In a city somewhat overloaded with genuinely forgettable places to stay, this is a spot that will not slip the mind.
The two B’s are references to Bookmark and Boutique. The industrial building occupied by the hotel was originally the beating heart of the old Hürlimann Brewery so it is perhaps surprising that its not called the B3 hotel adding a third B for Beer. Once the largest brewery in Switzerland the extensive site is now also an fashionable pedestrian zone of cool design shops and bars that sit alongside Google’s largest campus outside the USA.
‘Bookmarks’ in turn references books – some 33,000 of them. It turns out that the hotel’s owner was acquainted with a retiring bookseller and spotting an opportunity to ‘decorate’ the ten-metre high bar and restaurant, he swiftly purchased the lot and fitted shelves from floor to ceiling. The whole is illuminated by giant chandeliers constructed from bottle racks and (empty) green beer bottles. The end result is a striking area in which to relax – perhaps with a volume or two and definitely with one of the delicious local beers.
The hotel’s industrial origins are easy to see in the old building with its beams and brickwork – yet more B’s? You can even find the massive original engines and pumps exposed in the function room and gym – a place where pumping iron for once has real meaning.
The rooms are more than adequate and come with lovely parquet flooring, designer chairs, Tom Ford lamps, rain forest showers in very coolly designed glazed, open plan bathrooms. The beds are very comfortable and there are nice extras like a Nespresso machine and free wifi.
There are also some particularly soft and fluffy bathrobes and slippers to be used at a quite remarkable thermal spa. We knew from the hotel name there was a spa here but nothing prepared us for the hotel’s biggest surprise.
Located at opposite ends of the building – top and bottom – this is one of the best and most atmospheric that we have ever seen. Robes on, take the lift up to the rooftop to discover a fabulous, and very steamy, infinity pool. Zig-zagging between angular architectural elements, you can gaze over the spires and rooftops of historic Zurich and on to the snowy Alps beyond as you soak in thermal waters.
Try the lovely spa bistro just below before taking the lift again, this time in to the bowels of the old brewery. In a series of huge brick vaults are a whole series of pools (we lost count of how many), some in vast wooden ‘barrels’ along with various steam rooms and complex showers.
The spas natural waters come from deep in the earth below Zurich and are exceptionally rich in minerals – apparently very good for relaxation and wellbeing. The main spa is free for guests or you can also pay for an Irish-Roman experience which takes you through a sequence of scrubs plus varied temperature steams and pools.
This is a very good hotel without the spa, but extra special with it. Highly recommended.
For more information visit www.b2boutiquehotels.com.
Images by CELLOPHANELAND*.
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of B2 Hotel & Spa.