Zurich, a straight 12-hour flight away from Bangkok, is a city best described as being by the water but never far from nature. Besides a host of cultural places, like the Bahnhofstrasse or the Old Town, the city is also home to a vibrant nightlife and the best clubs in Switzerland. But that’s not all. It is also home to five-star luxury hotel, Baur au Lac, which would be the place to stay when in the city.
The five-star hotel in Zurich is unlike any other. Opened by by Johannes Baur in 1844, Baur Au Lac has been in the family for seven generations. Despite being in the city centre, the hotel is home to a private lakeside parkland, almost like an oasis, with Lake Zurich and the Alps in full view.
The building is built in a figure of eight and it’s revolving doors lead straight into wood panelling and a traditional check-in counter, which adds to the hotel’s charm. Huge flower arrangements, oil paintings and beautiful porcelain vases complete the art deco meets Louis XVI-style velvet armchairs.
The classic elegance continues to the simple details as the room keys, which are actual keys not cards and are brass. Though they are best left at the reception when going out due to the weight.
The Baur Au Lac has 119 rooms and suites and not all come with a view, so make sure you book a lake-facing room with a balcony. Though they are all stately and comfortable. The decor of the hotel is also mirrored in the rooms that come with the oversized porcelain lamps, velvet sofas, huge mirrors and modern artwork.
Probably the first thing you’ll notice is the lack of a coffee machine or tea-making facilities and fear not, they can be requested for. The minibar is complimentary and is replenished once a day. Bathrooms are decked out in all marble with heated floors, giving them that uber luxurious feel. Adding to the luxury are the Chopard toiletries.
The hotel has partnered with Mark Arnall, F1 performance coach, to create "Travel Fit". The new fitness programme is devised to beat jet lag and a bag with whatever you need to beat it is on your bed. On the TV, you can turn on Arnall, while he guides you through the various techniques and exercises to keep you in your best shape.
If you can be drawn out of your room and its luxuriousness, head to the Baur au Lac Terrasse, which emits a Riviera feeling with the hydrangeas in full bloom and the cool breeze from Lake Zurich. The terrace is where one can unwind and sip on a chilled glass of Champagne. It is apparently a hotspot for cool drinks and is extremely popular with the locals, especially for its ice cream sundaes on hot days.
Beyond the terrace is the hotel’s private park, home to Zurich’s tallest Christmas tree and their Christmas market in December. It is also home to the Baur Au Lac bees, which check into their own miniature hotel during the summer before being moved to their winter home. Needless to say, the hotel produces it’s own flower honey, which can be found in their shop.
The two Michelin-starred Pavillon, which is only open for dinner, is where you’ll eat breakfast. Though service is a bit spotty at times, breakfast has a cold buffet, with yoghurts, cheeses, cereals and bread, and hot dishes are served a la carte. Do indulge in the ginger shot at the buffet, which will not only keep you warm but is a healthy first-thing-in-the-morning drink.
For a casual dinner, Baur’s is the place to see and be seen, according to insider information. The brasserie itself is a visual delight with its amethyst pink and pastel green tones and Murano glass chandeliers. The menu changes seasonally and features with soul like Sea bass with creamy artichokes or Venison entrecôte. Of course, when in Zurich do order the Sliced veal Zurich-style and the best thing is that kidneys can be added on request. Wiener schnitzel is also on the menu as is Sole Meunière. Baur’s also offers a two-course business lunch and a Sunday brunch.
Off Baur’s is a cigar bar and the popular nightspot of the same name. The lively bar with antique mirrors and fabric wall panels serves creative drinks and if you ask nicely, bespoke cocktails. Zurich's feel-good bar’s must-try’s are the Baur‘S G&T, which is a 100% Swiss gin and tonic made using an Alpine-fresh gin, herbaceous tonic and tart berries. If you’re a teetotaller, try the housemade ice tea.
If you’re an afternoon tea person much like moi, head to Le Hall. The first thing you’ll noticed is the dazzling chandelier that sets the stage for the topiary, Louis XVI-style velvet armchairs and a roaring fireplace on cold days. Redesigned by Pierre-Yves Rochon in 2014, Le Hall is characterised by a contemporary reminiscence of the past and pays homage to the various stylistic eras. British indulgence takes over the afternoon with a LängGass Tea selection, exquisite sandwiches and housemade scones with real English clotted cream, always a plus!
The hotel has branched out into wine retailship and throughout Zurich there are Baur au Lac Vins shops where customers can buy wines from more than 300 wine producers from 14 countries. The shop at Tiefenbrunnen offers personalised wine-tasting workshops and even has a sun terrace for gatherings of upto 20 people.
A few minute’s walk from the hotel is Zurich’s main shopping street call the Bahnhofstrasse. On weekends, there is a farmer’s market in the mornings right across the hotel, on neighbouring Bürkliplatz. Zurich Old Town is within walking distance as is the magnificent twin-spired Grossmünster. Fraumunster Church, a13th-century Gothic cathedral best known for its stained-glass windows designed by Marc Chagall in the 1970s, is also nearby. It is near a great little coffee shop, ViCafe Münsterhof.
Being in the centre, tram and bus stops are steps away, from where you can board one to the famous Lindt museum. A great place to spend a morning or afternoon, surrounded by all things chocolate.
The Baur Au Lac is Zurich’s only hotel with permission to meet guests at the airport luggage carousel, and if that ain’t luxury, what is? Visit bauraulac.ch.