My eagerly anticipated Swiss summer adventure was a fabulous experience that would see me sample the very best of what Lausanne had to offer.
My journey began with a smooth direct flight from London City Airport to Geneva with the excellent national carrier, Swiss International Airlines. The journey was approximately one hour and thirty minutes, and was very pleasant indeed. Once landed and re-united with my bag, it was very easy to find the train station which is located a short walk away from the airport. I had finally reached my destination of Lausanne which seemed to take no time at all, my excitement of exploring this unique city was starting to grow rapidly.
Lausanne is a lively and multi-cultural city, situated on the shores of Lake Geneva, located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and is the capital of the canton of Vaud. It’s also the fourth largest city in Switzerland behind Zurich, Geneva and Basel.
A notable city steeped in rich history, it has a wonderful blend of old meets new, with a different and unique story to be told on almost every street corner I passed by. The Olympic Capital is certainly kept young by its momentous student population, bustling nightlife and on-going sustainable development.
Halfway along the north shore of Lake Geneva, the city was definitely alive for summer – the lakefront was teeming with sunbathers, and an abundance of outdoor terraces, bars, cafes and restaurants could be seen all over town. From June to September, the city hosts Lausanne Estivale which presents 450 free concerts and events all over the city.
I stayed at the tremendous Lausanne Palace & Spa Hotel which epitomised luxury to the highest order, and is located in the very hip and trendy Flon area which is in the heart of the business and shopping district.
This stunning property was built in 1915, and represents an important part of the historical heritage of Lausanne. An exquisite five-star which has completely been refurbished and air-conditioned, it boasts 138 rooms, of which 30 are suites offer panoramic views of the city, Lake Geneva, and the Alps.
The Lausanne Palace & Spa’s leisure facilities are supreme, and include an indoor heated pool, a hot tub, a hammam, a sauna, a technogym fitness area and a Pilates centre. Massage treatments and balneotherapy are also available. Guests can access the Yogi Booster Bar free of charge too. The hotel has a fine selection of gastronomic restaurants such as La Table d’Edgar which was rewarded with a star in The Michelin Guide, the smart French brasserie, Grand-Chêne, and the chic Côte Jardin.
My Deluxe Room had an amazing vista courtesy of the private panoramic balcony which overlooked Lake Geneva and across to the Alps. It was generous in space, nicely furnished, light, airy and decorated in a soft colour scheme which made the room very inviting.
The marble bathroom was stylish, and came equipped with a bath, shower and a separate toilet. The Lausanne Palace & Spa equally offers free Wi-Fi in all rooms and public spaces within the hotel, and a complimentary well-stocked mini-bar, and an office corner completes this desirable room.
I could see why the Lausanne Palace & Spa was a firm favourite with numerous world-famous VIPs, royalty, celebrities and politicians. The first-class hospitality and personalised service I experienced from the staff during my stay was magnificent, and the hotel certainly lived up to its impeccable five star billing.
I set out to explore and really discover Lausanne as much as possible, and found to my amazement that everything is within walking distance. The automated m2 metro line, which is the steepest in the world, made getting around by rail and foot that much easier. I thoroughly recommend purchasing the Swiss Travel Pass which is an all-in-one ticket which allows you to travel the length and breadth of Switzerland by train, bus and boat.
I strolled through the Old Town and visited Cathédrale de Lausanne which is a striking 13th century Gothic structure perched at the very top of the hill in the Cité – it is enormous and dominates the landscape of the city centre. The Cathedral is the biggest in Switzerland and its bell tower is the home to the famous night watchman who can be heard between the hours of 10pm and 2am. The night watchmen notifies the city with precision of the hour, and their job is to raise the alarm in the event of a fire. This is a tradition which has been handed down over more than 600 years, and is still going strong today.
I also visited some peaceful alleys of the historic Cité quarter of which the same stone is used for buildings and street paving, giving the area a highly pleasing look and feel. The town centre has many pedestrian and shopping passages between Place Saint-Francois and Place de la Riponne, where I admired the full glory of the remarkable traditional tall buildings.
My next stop was the impressive Olympic Museum which is adorned with eye-catching landscaped gardens. It’s the leading centre of information on the Olympic Movement, and is equipped from floor to ceiling with state-of-the-art audiovisual, IT and robotic technology that help tell the story of the one and only Olympic Games. It’s a very lively, informative, interactive and truly inspirational experience that I enjoyed immensely.
I was fortunate enough to celebrate Switzerland’s national day on the 1st August in Lausanne, and it didn’t disappoint. A public holiday is granted to everyone to help mark this significant day with various festivities and parties. I headed to Ouchy for the evening to have dinner at the Chateau d’Ouchy which is crowned with a 12th century tower, and it didn’t let me down. A glorious meal coupled with excellent and friendly service, which was followed by a marvellous firework display, ensured I celebrated Switzerland’s national day in luxurious style. This former fishing village has many places of interest including the prestigious part neo-Baroque Beau-Rivage Palace and stunning views of Lake Geneva, Evian and The Savoy Alps.
After the fireworks display, I headed back to the Flon district which is at the heart of Lausanne, and has undergone continuous transformation to become one of the city’s showcase districts, and is particularly notorious for its fabulous nightlife scene.
I wanted to delve further into this great destination, and therefore took the opportunity to leave the city for the day and venture out to Lutry in the countryside. I took a memorable boat cruise on Lake Geneva to part of the Lavaux vineyard area. The views were breathtaking, showcasing the ports, castles, hills, vineyards and the peaks of the Swiss and Savoy Alps
Lutry is a medieval market town on the shores of Lake Geneva, and is an intricacy of alluring little streets, inner courtyards, chateaus, churches and towers. It was so nice to stroll past the art galleries, village shops and specialist stores, and sense the calm and serenity of the countryside.
I also went on a magical tour of the vineyard via a miniature train journey, otherwise known as the Lavaux Express. Lavaux has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since the year 2007, and spans over 14 kilometres, forging a true link between Lausanne and Vevey-Montreux. The views of the Lake and the Alps from the highest point were simply heart stirring and have to be seen to be believed.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Lausanne, and the people and Swiss hospitality was second to none. The future is looking very bright for this growing metropolis, and with the re-opening of the iconic Royal Savoy Hotel at the end of Summer 2015, this will be Lausanne’s third five-star property. Just as well, as Lausanne and the State of Vaud are also gearing up to host the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
In short, there are so many good reasons to visit Lausanne, and I can’t wait to get back to continue my Swiss adventure within this gorgeous city.
For further information on Lausanne, please visit:
Switzerland Tourism – www.myswitzerland.com
Lausanne Tourisme & Convention Bureau – www.lausanne-tourisme.ch
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.
To book a room at the Lausanne Palace & Spa please visit – www.lausanne-palace.com
By Jamie Ndah