For all of today´s chic and cool new boutique and concept hotels it is still very much worth savouring the experience of staying in an old establishment of a hotel, the type we had the privilege to visit recently. Our journey commenced in Geneva one early sunny afternoon travelling by train to Lausanne, a charming city situated on the shores of Lake Léman. It is always a good time to visit Switzerland, rain or shine, especially if you are lucky enough to stay at the superb Beau-Rivage Palace Lausanne, one of Europe’s last remaining traditional grand hotels and, although recently renovated, faithful to its conception. The hotel opened in 1861 and the current main building was constructed in art-deco and neo-baroque style in 1908. It is registered, not unsurprisingly, in the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National and Regional Significance.
Lausanne’s Beau-Rivage Palace recalls the days of aristocrats travelling by coach, and standing in the magnificent hallway looking up the stairways it isn´t difficult to sense and appreciate the grandeur of this luxurious 19th-century property with manicured gardens and gorgeous views over the lake towards the gentle French hills above Thonon-les-Bains leading to the Jura mountains. This is a hotel where you want to stay and never leave. It is beautiful, it is stylish, it has history and it is above all very comfortable. The view from our very spacious and charming room is breathtaking, the calm lake adorned with a variety of boats crossing back and forth and in the gardens wedding guests are enjoying each others company.
The city of Lausanne is the focus of international sport, hosting the International Olympic Committee so you can feel the sporty and active energy enjoyed by the locals and tourists alike with all kinds of sporty activities taking place one of which was the triathlon starting the morning after we arrived. We observed the enthusiastic and energetic sportsmen and women head off for their race inspiring us to plan our more modest activities for the day visiting the charming old city centre of Lausanne. First, however, we start the morning with a dynamic stroll by the lake and once we feel refreshed and energised we find the beautiful dining rooms for our breakfast which is served as a buffet or a la carte. We are then escorted around the hotel to discover some of its beautiful rooms and features, including the grand Belle Époque ballroom which has played host to weddings of many a celebrity.
If after the delicious breakfast and a moderately long walk you still have an appetite or happen to be visiting Lausanne over the weekend we strongly recommend the Sunday brunch, buffet style, at the hotel’s Terrace restaurant which is something of an institution, especially when followed by a game of giant chess on the lawn. At this point there has been a change of plan as we opt for a lazy afternoon forgetting all about our aforementioned sporty inspiration and have a drink instead in the retro-chic bar which specialises in the art of cocktails with rare spirits. You might even decide to purchase a bottle if you are a regular guest in which case it is kept in a designated cabinet, for you to enjoy when visiting. This is a beautiful bar and worth the visit, recently renewed but still featuring the period tapestries alongside a modern onyx bar.
For our postponed visit to the old city we take advantage of the audio guided tour available to download from lausanne.ch where we learn that this capital of the canton of Vaud is in the throes of development, with business, urban planning, public transport and mobility all undergoing transformation. The fourth-largest city in Switzerland, Lausanne is indeed set apart by its vocation as an Olympic city, a sustainable city and a place of training and culture. A very popular tourist destination, the city is also home to many international companies, particularly the headquarters of multinationals. You might even say that quality of life and economic attractiveness combine here to multiple effect.
On our return from a delightful visit to the historical centre of Lausanne we have a choice of the hotel´s fine restaurants with the Michelin star Anne-Sophie Pic at the helm of the kitchen of the its fine-dining restaurant. This time we opt to enjoy the relaxed and sophisticated ambience of the Café Beau-Rivage on the terrace facing the lake with a menu that varies according to the season, whilst offering its specials such as steak tartare or perch fillets meunière all year round. These were our obvious choices and did not disappoint paired with a selection of delicate wines chosen by our sommelier.
When preparing for departure looking forward to our onward journey we are filled with a sense of privilege, thankful for having been allowed to have a taste of times past in this magnificent hotel.
For more informations about Beau- Rivage Palace Lausanne: