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Debonair looks at the best places to stay, eat, drink and explore in one of Switzerland’s most exciting regions
A favourite haunt of the rich and famous, the Swiss Canton of Vaud is known for its magnificent landscapes of snow-capped Alps, the ever-serene crystal clear waters of Lake Leman and some of the world’s grandest palace hotels.
Join Debonair on a visit to one of the most exciting regions in Switzerland.
WHERE TO STAY
Beau Rivage Palace Chemin de Beau-Rivage 21, 1006 Lausanne, Switzerland
It’s not the marble floors and dazzling chandeliers that first throw you into a world of opulence when you walk through The Beau Rivage’s luxurious, oversized doors. Rather, it’s the scent. A rich, overpowering and sweetly addictive aroma being in the playground of the rich and famous. Discretion is a given, yet most of the star-studded guests have given their seal of approval in the hall of fame — their photos are framed, signed and hung along the walls on the hotel’s lowest floor. Everyone from King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan to the Dalai Lama have called this majestic grand dame home. In fact it is here that the world’s most influential politicians spent many a night as the nuclear deal was being brokered. And where Coco Chanel used to settle for months at a time. So smitten was she with the views of Évian-les-Bains, France, across the water, she’d go straight for that Lake Leman high, room 460 to be exact.
Since 1861, Beau-Rivage Palace has shows that tradition and innovation — just like cultural heritage and modernity — complement each other very well. This ambassador of the highest Swiss hotel tradition is a great example of the country’s typically excellent hospitality. The walls of this majestic building could tell 1001 stories, about defining moments in history — such as the signing of pioneering treaties — about artists seeking inspiration, about royal families and famous celebrity guests. Beau-Rivage Palace is considered one of the best hotels in Europe.
Duke + Dexter
A belle époque marvel, this is a legendary hotel with exceptional service and location facing Lake Leman and the Alps. With 168 rooms, including 34 suites, the hotel also provides an expansive spa and wellness area, not to mention the famed in-house restaurant where Anne-Sophie Pic, the first woman to be voted chef of the year by the Michelin guide, is at the helm.
WHERE TO EAT
Grand Hôtel du Lac Vevey, La Veranda
The jewel of Vaud is undeniably its lake. Thus a visit would not be complete without a dining experience overlooking its sparkling waters. With its terrace overlooking the harbour, Lake Leman and the majestic Swiss and French Alps, La Veranda is the pick. A Michelin-starred brasserie with a casual and relaxed vibe, its views are so impressive that you will struggle to concentrate on your food.
Restaurant de l’hotel de Ville de Crissier
This three Michelin-star wonderment is on just about every Best Restaurant list in the world. An evening at the Restaurant de l’hotel de Ville de Crissier will be about discovering what it actually takes to be revealed on these lists, not to mention what it takes to be listed as number one. For us, it was about discovering magnificent displays of art on the plate before tasting exquisite flavours on the palette. The foie gras with pistachio is so artistic in its creation one may find it disconcertingly difficult to disturb its beauty. The lobster with three carrots is indeed beautiful to look at, but far too tempting to simply admire.
Global citizens in Lausanne have a new dining home. Eat Me, the city’s newest innovative hot spot, makes it possible to nibble your way around the globe in the course of an evening. Drawing from the “food souvenirs” its owners have tasted throughout their travels, expect a menu that reflects everything from the most humble street foods to the most modern gastronomic delights. With its airy lounge and stylish back dining room, one sip of your Old Cuban and you’ll feel the rhythm of Havana salsa dancing through your veins.
WHERE TO STAY
Fairmont Le Montreux Palace Av. Claude-Nobs 2, 1820 Montreux, Switzerland
The grand dame of Montreux, which opened in 1906, is one of those classic hotels that offers guests a trip through time along with the usual comforts of fine linens and impeccable silver service. With hallways supersized to accommodate the ball gowns of the aristocracy, the hotel’s old-fashion glamour has been seducing the biggest names in music since its inauguration including Quincy Jones, Carlos Santana, BB King, David Bowie and Prince. Equally popular with writers, the famed Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov loved Montreux Palace so much so that he booked in for 16 years with his wife, Vera — the longest time anyone has ever lived in a palace hotel.
Situated in the beautiful resort town of Montreux and nestled along the lake, Montreux Palace pays tribute to its annual jazz festival, which has made its mark on the classy town and music lovers alike. With 236 rooms and suites that combine a refined décor with modern comforts, one can easily while away the hours walking among the hotel’s grand hallways and marvelling at the beauty of the frescoes that decorate the ceilings.
WHERE TO DRINK
Domain Bovy Winery
Vaud’s Lavaux countryside — a UNESCO World Heritage site — is the location of one of the most idyllic vineyard terraces one can imagine. Dating back to the 11th century, it supports cascading terraces of vines. Nestled among these ceaseless rows of entwined grape lies the family-owned boutique winery Domain Bovy, a marvel in its own right. Sit on the veranda overlooking the lake as you taste tapas and sip the local drop, Chasselas.
Funky Claude’s Bar
The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world. It’s founder was the larger-than-life Claude Nobbs, otherwise known as “Funky Claude”, a name stemming from the lyrics of Deep Purple’s classic Smoke on the Water. A collection of his and the jazz festival’s memorabilia, including a Kimono Freddy Mercury gave Nobbs, can be viewed while sipping one of the bar’s famed cocktails.
The Cigar Lounge at Royal Savoy Hotel offers the ultimate in before or after dinner relaxation. Cigar aficionados can enjoy their own cigar deposit box, where they can enjoy their rolled leaves in luxurious comfort thanks to the hotel’s recent $100 million renovation spearheaded by Katara Hospitality. Built in 1906 and originally serving as a haven for the Spanish royal family and King Bhumibol of Thailand and later for rock royalties headlining at the Montreux Jazz Festival, its massive reconstruction has paved the way for dramatic modern interiors by Maria Vafiadis of MKV Design, London.
WHERE TO STAY
Hôtel des Trois Couronnes Rue d’Italie 49, 1800 Vevey, Switzerland
In case you are wondering what sort of room reservation could possibly puzzle the reception at Les Trois Couronnes: in October 1859, Tsar Nicholas I took all 60 rooms for himself and his entourage and spent the entire winter here. Today you have 71 rooms and suites at your service; enough space to bring at least some of your closest friends.
Built in 1842 on the foundations of an old Swiss Castle (the vaults of which can still be seen in the spa), this historic and award-winning hotel is set against the timeless backdrop of Lake Leman and the Alps. Boasting the city’s largest indoor pool, be sure to stroke some laps while listening to the crystal-clear beats of the hotel’s underwater playlist, or for those who seek a little anti-aging, be sure to try the Joëlle Ciocco Sculpture Massage — the first and only hotel in the world to offer skin treatments developed by this Paris-based biochemist. Often likened to “gymnastics of the skin”, the treatment works internally and externally on all of the muscles to stretch the inner mask of the face.
WHERE TO EXPLORE
Switzerland’s Lake Geneva Region is making its mark on the global travel landscape. The area has even take huge steps to make it more appealing to Muslim travellers. We highlight three standout experiences.
Grand Tour road trip
Take a Bond-worthy car and drive the Vaud section of The Grand Tour of Switzerland, plunging into a picturesque landscape of lakes, terraced vineyards, Alps and ancient castles that for centuries have inspired artists and writers from Victor Hugo to Lord Byron.
Running over a half-day, the Watchmaking Experience allows participants to dismantle a movement and put it back together with practical advice from the legendary Lionel Meylan, whose family has been practicing the art of horology for the past six generations. For those who have always dreamt of being at the beating heart of a watch, Meylan, reveals the secrets of this specialised craft, providing a fascinating experience which requires impeccable sleight of hand, precision and patience.
Day on the slopes
With the mountains only a short drive away it is hard to ignore a day out on the slopes or a thrilling ride on dog sleds. The place to visit is Glacier 3000, an alpine playground of all things adventure. Winter enthusiasts will love swooping down the Glacier’s ski and snowboard runs, or heading to the Tissot Peak Walk for that ultimate daredevil shot on the suspension bridge which connects two mountain peaks.
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