Switzerland’s largest city, Zürich, is a leading global hub, and amongst the world’s biggest financial centres.
This cosmopolitan cocktail of a city is consistently ranked as one of the destinations with the best quality of life in the world. It is situated in the very heart of Europe, and at the foot of the Swiss Alps, and was, therefore, the ideal base from which to continue my Swiss adventure.
I took a direct two-hour train ride from Lausanne, which was absolutely thrilling, and gave me a fabulous opportunity to view the stunning landscapes in comfort and style. On arrival at Zurich’s main station, I was aptly greeted by my driver from The Dolder Grand who kindly took my bag, and placed it in the boot of a slick, black, air-conditioned, Mercedes-Benz limousine. My Zurich welcome was off to a very good start, and I couldn’t wait to find out more about this exciting destination.
The Dolder Grand is a luxurious venue which was designed for pure pleasure, exclusivity and relaxation to the highest order. There are 176 rooms in total, of which 48 are junior suites, a spa covering 4,000 square metres, as well as a remarkable art collection. The original “Curhaus” dating from 1899 presents itself as the luxury-class City Resort, and the hotel’s elevated location, between the pulsating life of the city, and a refreshingly natural green zone, provides a magnificent view of Zurich, the lake and the Alps.
I had a soundproofed Junior Suite which was simply stunning, delightfully decorated and located on the upper floors of the Spa Wing. The interior design and sumptuous bathroom comes with its own built-in TV, and the sand-coloured Jura limestone exudes a modern zeitgeist. The floor-to-ceiling windows create a generous sense of space too. The 64 square-metre suite was fully equipped with a king-size bed, spacious seating area and a sofa. A multifunctional remote control system, as well as a flatscreen TV with an integrated Bang & Olufsen CD and DVD player, make everything so easy to control from the touch of a button. There’s also a generous balcony space with an outdoor table and chairs for added comfort, in addition to a working desk area complete with an iPad and complimentary Wi-Fi.
I dined at the hotel’s bright cosmopolitan Garden Restaurant which serves European cuisine and modern Swiss interpretations.
The inviting sun terrace with its superb panoramic views was the perfect spot for me to enjoy dinner in the evening open air. The celebrated Chef, Patrick Hetz, prepares a menu that reflects the seasonal specialities, and I could see why the restaurant has been awarded 13 prestigious Gault Millau points.
The waiting staff were very attentive and friendly, and kindly recommended two exquisite dishes. For the starter, I had the delicious carpaccio of beef fillet with chanterelles, summer truffle and olive oil caviar. And for my main course, I went with the delicious organic beef fillet with Bernaise sauce, seasonal vegetables and mashed potatoes, which was absolutely divine and cooked to perfection.
After dinner, I could have easily retired to the serenity and calm of my room that was awaiting, but I really wanted to explore Zurich further. I, therefore, took the opportunity to go and experience the highly recommended Salt Cinema Zurich (formerly known as the Orange Cinema). 27 years ago, it made history as the first open-air movie theatre in Switzerland.
Today, Salt Cinema delights more than 160,000 film enthusiasts across Basel, Berne, Geneva and Zurich every summer. Set in front of the idyllic backdrops of Lake Zurich, the Münsterplatz in Basel, the Port Noir in Geneva, and the Grosse Schanze in Berne, it offers an excellent array of films – from exclusive previews to blockbusters and iconic reprises.
The atmospheric lakeside setting of Zürichhorn was a real treat, and I got to watch the wonderful, honest and romantic drama “Kelly and Cal”, a tale of a punk-rocker turned suburban mum who is nostalgic for a life she can no longer have. This film was selected for screening by the Zurich Film Festival and it was well received by the audience.
I now had a real thirst for Zurich, and my next stop was the Old Town where I strolled through a variety of shops ranging from antique dealers and bookshops to florists, hairdressers and trendy boutiques. There is so much to discover within this quarter as Zurich’s past and present come together through historic architecture, the rich testimonies to bygone days which evidence the early international acceptance of the city.
Whilst in the Old Town I sampled a new restaurant by the name of George Bar & Grill, the penthouse restaurant in the Haus Ober, is high above the rooftops of Zurich, and comprises of a bar, lounge, terrace, drinks and music too. The food is European cuisine at its best, and the décor is elegant, cultivated and distinguished.
My next sighting of Zurich was the very vibrant Langstrasse quarter based in district 4, and it revealed a range of surprising features that cannot be found anywhere else in Switzerland. With its recent and turbulent past, this quarter of the city was very impressive and I admired its authenticity and its multicultural and diverse community that radiated a truly cosmopolitan atmosphere.
New galleries, restaurants, bars and clubs were not in short supply in this area. In addition, textile and furniture designers, fashion designers, architects and graphic designers all live side by side in this very creative quarter. I popped into Fabric Frontline which is well known for continuing Zurich’s silk tradition, which dates back to the 13th century. I also visited the designer Ida Gut and the legendary Freitag bags too which are sold in Zurich West. It is located in the industrial district in a tower made out of 17 rusty shipping containers stacked on top of each other. Other luxury stores and international brands can be found at the acclaimed Bahnhofstrasse shopping precinct. Everything from department stores, jewellery shops, boutiques and watchmakers can be seen lined up in a row.
Zurich’s restaurant scene is just as diverse as the city itself. There are over 2,000 dining venues with every type of cuisine available that range from award-winning gourmet establishments to traditional guild houses with an eventful past. I visited three fantastic but very different eateries during the course of my stay, which all went down a storm.
My first stop on this culinary trail was The Adlisberg which was situated on the slopes of Zurich’s home mountain. The cuisine was dedicated to good Zurich home cooking and Swiss tavern culture. My next stop on my food quest was the fun and vibrant restaurant by the name of ‘Hiltl’.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world, dating back to 1898. A very hip and trendy crowd frequent this food haven which serves a variety of delicious healthy Hiltl treats all under one roof. My final destination on my nourishing pilgrimage was the Sonnenberg which is well known for its creative cuisine and its outstanding sweeping views over the lake, town and The Alps.
With all this food consumed, I was lucky enough to make use of the state-of-the-art gym at the Dolder Grand which certainly helped me burn off a few calories. The large Workout Studio is equipped with a cardiovascular area and mixture of hi-tech machines. There are a number of fitness coaches and personal trainers available to provide an introduction to using the equipment and who also offer individual fitness programmes.
The Dolder Grand Spa is truly majestic in every way with a Ladies’ Spa and a Gentlemen’s Spa complete with various amenities. There’s also Dolder Sports, readied with a swimming pool and mini-golf (summer months only), ice-skating rink (winter months only) public facilities with restaurant, a 9-hole golf course adjoining the hotel (handicap 30 required), a clubhouse with restaurant, and five clay tennis courts.
Whilst making full use of all the wonderful spa facilities at the Dolder Grand, I also booked in for a D-stone massage which lasts for approximately 60 minutes. I discovered the fascinating world of hot stone massages, and it was absolutely blissful.
The heat from the lava stones relaxed my aching muscles, allowing the excellent therapist’s hands to penetrate them, which meant I could instantly enjoy a feeling of deep relaxation. I can thoroughly recommend the D-stone massage at the Dolder Grand Spa as it’s a treatment performed and executed to the highest standard. It is ideal for treating muscle tension and back pain after sport or exercise, or to improve general well-being.
In short, the Dolder Grand is a truly heavenly resort with some of the finest facilities on offer to make every guest feel that extra bit special when they stay at this supreme property. However, the biggest asset I believe the Dolder Grand has, is impeccable staff who I found were incredibly helpful, kind, warm and welcoming.
My Swiss adventure has certainly got me wanting to explore this beautiful country further, and as for the splendid city of Zurich and the glorious Dolder Grand, I feel our journey hasn’t come to an end, but is only just beginning.
For more information on Zurich, visit:
Switzerland Tourism – www.myswitzerland.com
Zurich Tourism – www.zuerich.com
For flights please visit Swiss International Airlines – www.swiss.com
UK to Zurich:
SWISS offers up to 110 weekly flights from London Heathrow, London City, Birmingham and Manchester to Zurich. Fares start from £63* one-way. For reservations call 0845 6010956
UK & Ireland to Switzerland:
SWISS operates up to 200 weekly flights to Switzerland from London Heathrow, London City, London Gatwick (seasonal during winter), Manchester, Birmingham and Dublin from as little as £38 one-way* (Geneva Economy Light Fare only includes hand luggage). The all-inclusive fares start from £63 one-way*, including all airport taxes. For reservations call 0845 6010956
Swiss Travel System
By road, rail and waterway throughout Switzerland: The Swiss Travel System provides a dedicated range of travel passes and tickets exclusively for visitors from abroad. The Swiss Transfer Ticket covers a round-trip between the airport/Swiss border and your destination. Prices are £104 in second class and £167 in first class. For the ultimate Swiss rail specialist call Switzerland Travel Centre on 00800 100 200 30 or visit www.swisstravelsystem.co.uk.
The ZurichCARD is the ideal ticket for culture lovers and urban explorers who would like to transform their short stay into a journey of discovery at a minimum cost. The ZurichCARD is available for 24 or 72 hours. For further information, please visit www.zuerichcard.com
The Dolder Grand
To book a room at The Dolder Grand, please visit – www.thedoldergrandresort.com
By Jamie Ndah