You’ve never experienced picture perfect this way before: complete clarity as far as the eye can see, stretching out across 40km of Zurich lake and finally, resting upon the jagged snow-dusted mountains. And visible from the balconies of the city’s prettiest hotel, Baur au Lac. The mid-19th century property has a delightful yet modest terrace and garden, with a rather discreet entryway to match. Walk a few minutes down the luxurious shopping stretch Bahnhofstrasse that’s studded with couturiers, haute jewellery and watches, and turn off at the right as you pass the fine art galleries. At the first glimpse of supped-up sports cars and the odd Rolls, you’ve arrived at one of the most prestigious hotels in the world. My home for the weekend.
My room, the River Suite on the first level, resembles a chic Fifth Avenue apartment with ceiling to floor mirrored cabinets and tiled marble flooring. The corridor leads to the living area that’s tastefully adorned with a desk, balcony, a pair of beautiful Chinoise-style lamps and the mark of any luxury living space – an abundant orchid display. The bedroom is equally impressive, separated by elegant sliding doors. On one wing is a walk-in wardrobe that made me want to rush back to my boyfriend’s apartment in Zurich and grab more clothes for the sole purpose of filling it (I’m very practical, you don’t have to tell me twice) and on the other, one of the most decadent hotel bathrooms I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure which I loved more, the shower room containing a bench long enough to lie down on, because you know, standing while bathing is really very tiresome; or the huge tub big enough for two.
One of the things I really enjoy about Baur Au Lac, is that it’s much like being in a member’s club. I’ve been visiting the hotel for drinks over the last three years and have felt just as special as a customer as I have acting as press. Through my job, I have stayed at some truly impressive places, after all every luxury hotel has a reputation to maintain. But Baur Au Lac stands in a different class altogether – the friendliness and professionalism of the staff everywhere are kept in perfect balance. Plus, they even have their own custom green and black teas from the renowned (and Singaporean owned) TWG brand. And they make their own honey via the bee hive in their garden, which whimsically has a facade that mimics the hotel’s.
Another stellar feature is the hotel’s breakfast spreads. Their French toast, pancakes, cold cut platters, fruit salads and eggs that are more #aesthetic than #foodporn will convert anyone to becoming a morning person. There is really nothing more relaxing than sipping on a hot black tea in the morning as the early light filters in through white veiled windows.
In the summer of least year, I had the pleasure to dine at Pavillon and what a pleasure it was. This is a restaurant that boasts four couverts (knife and fork rating on the Michelin guide) and two stars. Rive Gauche is the laid-back neighbour of Baur Au Lac’s gem. The casual dining restaurant has a lot to live up to but surely did not disappoint. Staff are young, attentive and friendly, which is so refreshing.
As for the menu, it reads a melting pot of influences – from the American style cuisine at the grill section, Zurich specialities to beloved Italian and French offerings. Don’t forgo an aperitif here, they’re perfectly executed – I’d suggest a Negroni if you’re not a huge fan of sugary drinks. The RG Wagyu Beef Burger has a rep for being the best in the city (43CHF) and comes with a thick slice of foie gras. Platings here run large, not that anyone is complaining, so come hungry. I opted for the saffron scallop risotto in a half portion and was almost too full for dessert. Almost. The 1844 Bittersweet Symphonie (22CHF) is a must-try for chocolate addicts and a very adult choice. Far from your eye-rolling, yawn-inducing typical fondant, it’s a beautiful light cake served with a crunch and a sorbet. And although this is a chill brasserie, you’re still at the Baur Au Lac. The petit fours are pralines and truffles, made in house.
The wines deserve a special mention. Both restaurants at the hotel offer a selection from Swiss vineyards, something in which every visitor must indulge themselves. It also has its own wine shop. Let me put it this way, if you’re not in Zurich for the outdoors, you’ll soon need something to occupy yourself and this is an appealing option. Eric Meier is a local wine producer and you can order a glass of the 2017 Pino Gris at Rive Gauche. For lovers of red, there’s a 2017 Cornalin from Valais, the mountainous region of Switzerland. Once your belly is full and your mind mellowed with wine, it’s time to retire upstairs for the night.
Talstrasse 1, 8001