Armed with her copy of the Geneva Girls’ Guide, Reena Patel embarks on a stylish short stay in this beautiful Swiss city.
Swiss chocolate and watches are two notorious luxury goods that put Geneva on the shopping map. But as I explored the city, I soon discovered what else makes it a worthwhile weekend stay.
Also known as a leading destination for business and banking, Geneva is naturally well connected, making it a great place geographically to hop over for a short visit. We arrived in on an hour and a half flight from London, and took a 6-minute train ride (public transport travel is free for all Geneva hotel guests) straight into the heart of the city.
As we journeyed into Geneva, we were presented with a beautifully illustrated book, called the Geneva Girls’ Guide, which gives you an in-the-know directory of essential addresses. It covers the best places to go for shopping, beauty and wellness, activities, restaurants, going out, brunch, tea and coffee, comfort food, plus an itinerary on what could be described as the perfect weekend. Here’s a flavour of what we got up to during our trip:
We stayed at the Swissotel Metropole Geneva, a grand historic building with contemporary flair found within its rooms. Shimmering lime-tinged glass mosaic tiles line the swish bathroom suite complete with a shower cubicle that doubles up as a steam room. A soft-focused colourful floral accent wall further adds feminine vibrancy to the room, along with a discreet TV hidden within the large mirror that faces the king-sized bed. Each Friday evening, the hotel’s rooftop bar is the place to go and enjoy a few well-balanced cocktails, with stunning views of Lake Geneva and its iconic water fountain – Jet d’Eau.
The spa at Hotel La Reserve is a large serene sanctuary and features a magnificent indoor UV swimming pool, fitness centre, 12 treatment rooms and a comprehensive menu of treatments to indulge and unwind in. The spa draws on the medical expertise of the Nescens brand and the Center for Aging at the Clinique de Genolier (Switzerland) created more than 15 years ago by Professor Jacques Proust, a pioneer in the realm of ageing biology and anti-ageing medicine. We were treated to a full body massage that focuses on detox and releasing tension. You will also find La Prairie at this spa – another luxury skincare brand.
To complement the wellness experience, the spa’s Le Café Lauren serves light, healthy lunches in its relaxing room with plush white leather seats, using only delicate olive oil (all fats are banned), raw sugar to make its desserts (no refined sugar) and fresh ingredients with fewer calories on the plate.
As well as the expected high-end and high street fashion stores, there’s a good selection of independent boutiques to rustle through in Geneva. Flair No. 3 is a charming store set up by vintage clothing lover Marisa da Silva, who loves to reinvent individual fashion pieces so that they suit the modern wearer. I was chuffed to find a perfectly fitting soft suede sleeveless coat (which is on trend right now for spring 2015) and it seems as if there’s something for everyone – from brands such as Fendi, Paul & Joe and Maje. If you’re lacking some originality in your wardrobe, then this is the place to go.
Hair & Beauty
To get dolled up, head to Le Bal des Createurs, where you can have your hair styled, or your make-up expertly applied, and so much more over a glass of champagne or a cocktail. To put the hairdresser to the test, I went for a style that I can’t manage to do on my own hair and ended up with a perfectly set pretty braided up-do, which had plenty of staying power to last through the whole evening. You’ll also find a speedy Nail Bar service up at the third floor of high-end clothing temple, Bongenie, which is located in the heart of the city centre.
Geneva has plenty of pretty little coffee shops and cafes to enjoy brunch, and take some reprieve from the shopping and sightseeing. We enjoyed a light tartine, topped with rocket and prosciutto at La Fabrique, a cosy wood-rich bistro brimming with locals: office professionals on their break and ladies who lunch.
Geneva offers a fair few fine dining and Michelin-starred restaurants, all with continental and individual flair, so it’s well worth discovering those during your stay here too.
To enjoy a night out on the town, there are some trendy drinking spots and dance floors to revel in. Rooftop 42 is both literally and figuratively, high up there. The cocktails are super-dreamy and if you eat here too, you won’t be disappointed with its fine dining menu. I tried a delicious buttery rich cod with pureed squash, soft Parmesan marshmallows and celeriac foam and asparagus followed by a creamy mango mille-feuille. As the DJ warms up with an eclectic mix of hip hop, house and dance tracks, along with some Swiss-Euro tunes, you’ll want to get up and have a little dance to burn off your dinner.
The suggested gems in the Geneva Girls’ Guide are sure to help you enjoy a leisurely break in the city. The Geneva Girls’ Guide is available through Geneva Tourism’s Information Center, and tailored packages are available to include accommodation, city travel and cocktails and more. For more information on Geneva, visit www.geneva-tourism.ch.
For information on Switzerland, visit www.MySwitzerland.com.
SWISS (www.swiss.com) operates up to 64 weekly flights from London Heathrow, London City and London Gatwick to Geneva. For the ultimate Swiss rail specialist, contact Switzerland Travel Centre and visit www.swisstravelsystem.co.uk.