Arriving at Zurich’s original ‘Grand Dame’ hotel, the Hotel Baur au Lac, on a grey and snowy mid-winter day we find its interior a riot of full spring colour. Immaculate vases of garden fresh flowers adorn every spare space. Whether in giant vases, linear displays or dining table pots, the blooms are perfectly ordered and immaculately colour-co-ordinated. This is 5 star floristry perfection.
Very soon one realises that every aspect of the hotel is worthy of similar superlatives. The styling of public areas is beautifully elegant and unfussy with discrete lighting following a recent refurbishment. The atmosphere is calm and unhurried and supremely classy.
You know immediately why this is the place where royalty, film stars and captains of industry have felt at home since its opening in 1844. Richard Wagner stayed and premiered the Ride of the Valkyries, accompanied on the piano by Franz Liszt. Kings and queens, empresses and dukes galore have stayed along with a roll-call of celebrities.
It is also said that the Nobel Prize was born here when, in 1892, Baroness Bertha von Suttner convinced the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel of the necessity for an international peace award.
The fine and historic building sits within its own landscaped gardens facing Lake Zurich, with the snow-capped Alps beyond. It is also right in the heart of the city – the financial district on one side and the designer shops of the Bahnhofstrasseon the other.
Bedrooms are classical rather than contemporary in soft shades of brown, gold and cream with white wood and good quality art. Carpets are of gold and cream with nature inspired patterns. You will also find lighting tasteful, computer tablets loaded with information, a complimentary minbar and plenty of flowers including beautiful purple orchids. Bauer Au Lac even has its own pillow menu where you can choose any filling from spelt to cherrystone to ensure the best night’s sleep. Soft monogrammed robes and the hotel’s own amenities are in the immaculate Carrara marble bathrooms.
A very good buffet breakfast, with menu options, is taken overlooking the water at the pink and green hued Pavilion Restaurant. Circular and light-filled it has, as its magnificent centrepiece, several hundredweight of original Lalique chandelier above a giant flower arrangement.
Evenings, this is home to some of the worlds finest cuisine. Chef Laurent Eperon serves modern interpretations of classic haute-cuisine – rated one Michelin-Star and 18 Gault Millau Points.
More casual modern dining is served at the Rive Gauche Restaurant with its pistachio seating. The wine cellar is genuinely unbeatable, the hotel also operates its own fine wine business whilst, if you like chocolate, the own-brand Baur au Lac ‘1844’ is used at the restaurants and is available to take home.
Last but not least, to stay at the top, even the very best of hotels cannot rely just on history, decor and flower arrangements. Impeccable standards of service are required and this is something of which the Baur au Lac is clearly very proud.
We found the service faultless with genuinely friendly staff that are always on hand in the background when needed. Service of this standard does not come easily and it is clear training is superb. Evidence came when we accidentally stumbled upon a restaurant staff meeting – it was concluding with a group cry of ‘make them happy!’. We most certainly were.
For more information and booking visit Hotel Baur au Lac.
Images by CELLOPHANELAND* and Hotel Baur au Lac.