When I visit a new city, the first thing I do is acclimatize to my new surroundings by climbing some steps and seeking out a decent view. It makes for the grandest of introductions, and sets a tone for the rest of the trip.
If the hotel you’re staying boasts killer views of its own, you’re of course killing two birds with one stone. This is the case for Hotel Schweizerhof Bern and THE SPA.
It’s one of the Swiss capital’s most iconic stopovers, dating back to 1876 and once frequented by Grace Kelly. After a swift, effortless check in owing to warm, courteous staff, I got a head start on my Bern to do list.
The SKY Terrace bar [pictured above] offers a 360° panoramic view of Bern. The picturesque Old Town, the parliament building and the handsome Bernese Alps are all visible. Interestingly, the roof is also home to three beehives; the hotel is proudly blazing a trail for urban bee colonies. The aim is ‘promoting ecological equilibrium and raising awareness of the problem of bee mortality,’ according to its website.
‘You’re first struck by the stately facade’
From the surrounding skyline to its stunning exterior, the Hotel Schweizerhof is all about the visuals. Its stately facade is especially beautiful when lit up at night – just like that of its sister property, the Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa in Lausanne. (Both are members of the Bürgenstock Selection).
It also shares in common with the Lausanne property an enviable location. While the Royal Savoy stands proud near the shores of Lake Geneva, the Hotel Schweizerhof takes pride of place in the center of Bern, directly opposite Bahnhof Bern station.
Meanwhile, all the best attractions, from the Zytglogge – a huge, mechanical clock dating back to 1191 – to Einsteinhaus, the former home of local hero Albert Einstein, are within walking distance.
Owing to two years of extensive renovations, the Schweizerhof is just as classically attractive inside as out. Meanwhile, its ‘5-Star-Superior’ Swiss Hotel Association classification is plain to see in countless details both big and small. There are crystal chandeliers, an abundance of fresh flowers and even a cigar lounge and shoe shine service.
My standard single room was spacious enough and had a simple but elegant aesthetic, courtesy of MKV Interior Design. The bed was beyond comfortable, and the rich cottons adored. Meanwhile, the complimentary beer and soft drinks were much appreciated, as was the midday checkout. There are 99 guest rooms in total, spread across five floors.
A hotel stay entitles guests use of the cutting edge 500m2 wellness SPA. The underground complex is comprised of a gym, pamper pool, Finnish sauna and Turkish bath, plus treatment rooms. It’s the only spa in central Bern, and is open all year round.
Also, be sure to also check out the hotel’s iconic resident restaurant, Jack’s Brasserie. It’s a nice spot for the a la carte breakfast, but the Art Nouveau stylings become truly magical in the evening. I felt like I was dining inside a box of very expensive chocolates. As such, the memory of the extremely rich chocolate mousse will stay with me forever.
To read more about this magical Swiss-French eatery (which has twice been awarded 14 points from Gault Millau Restaurant Guide) read our best of Bern city guide here.
One last note on that rooftop bar. It may offer yoga sessions in the summer, but to get you in the mood for autumn and winter… On Sundays and the last two Saturdays before Christmas, the SKY Terrace will serve a selection of winter delicacies. This means everything from roasted chestnuts and champagne to ‘an entire seasonal degustation platter.’ We want in.
For more information about Hotel Schweizerhof, visit the official website.