Few cities evoke in the minds of locals and visitors alike as much awe and wonder as does Bern. Characterized by its cosmopolitan charm, one can hardly single it out as the de facto Swiss capital due to its small size. But what it lacks in size, Bern makes up in location and beauty and can easily be reached by car, train or by air via the Berne-Belp international airport. Ideally located at the border between the German and French speaking parts of the country, it is truly unique as a capital city and the political center of Switzerland.
With perennial attractions aplenty, most of Bern's charms are so obvious that it hardly requires a guide to find them. The Federal Parliament Building: a UNESCO World Heritage site, the 16th century Clock Tower (Zytglogge), the Einstein Museum across the river in Helvetiaplatz and Bear Park are just a few of the many sights it has to offer. There's also the River Aare, Gothic Cathedral (Munster) among countless churches, bridges, museums, Renaissance fountains and four miles of old shopping arcades. Medieval buildings with world-class architecture and design, Berne's unique cityscape makes it the unpretentious capital that it is.
In the summer, the water display on Parliament Square (Bundesplatz) offers fun and refreshment for children, while in the winter it is transformed into an ice rink. The Bundesterrasse park landscape on the south side of the building is a popular place for a picnic or just a chat. One of the best ways to get to know the unique beauty of the city is Bern's Old Town with its arcades and attractions. Berne's central location and excellent transport connections, makes it an ideal starting point for excursions throughout Switzerland.
Hotels in Bern offer the perfect stay for every taste. For those who want to indulge themselves completely and be treated like a king or queen, The Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & THE SPA is the place to be. With its 150-year history, it is the oldest and most celebrated hotel in Bern, and is known for welcoming rich and famous guests like Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Albert Schweitzer and Peter Ustinov. Centrally located directly opposite Berne's main railway station, it offers spacious rooms that combine elegant interior design with cutting-edge facilities.
The stately and elegant Hotel Schweizerhof's history is a long and rich one with many interesting stories. Founded in 1857, before Bern had a train station, it was originally known as 'Hotel Fetzer' or 'Zahringerhof' and was given its current name by Daniel Vogel in 1859. Between 1881 and 1897, the hotel belonged to the Hauser brothers, part of a well-known family of hoteliers from Wadenswil. In 1911, the Hotel was torn down and rebuilt by a consortium of hotel and brewery specialists who reopened it in July 1913.
After several changes in management and administration it was taken over by the Gauer family in 1939. The hotel was characterized by Jack Gauer, who had bought the hotel at the beginning of the Second World War and started the golden era of the Schweizerhof. Gauer became the hotel's longest-serving and most famous owner, turning it into a premier location with an international reputation. His name is immortalized in Jack's Brasserie, the main restaurant at the Hotel.
Gauer's son Jean-Jacques took over in 1975 and in 2000 the hotel was sold to the Richemond Heritage Group. Today the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & THE SPA is part of the portfolio of Buergenstock Selection Group. Following a two-year period of immaculate renovation, the hotel was ultimately restored to its former glory and opened once again in new splendour in the spring of 2011.
The essence of the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern lies in the detail and its luxurious symbiosis of the traditional and the modern. With its Art Nouveau facade, expensive decor, quintessential luxury and the passion of its hosts, it has a 5-Star-Superior classification from the Swiss Hotel Association. The hotel offers some of the largest rooms and suites with undoubtedly the best views in Bern.
There are 99 opulent rooms and 3 suites on five floors equipped with every conceivable comfort. Rooms are large, luxurious and comfortable. Every one of them is sound and light-proof, with classic chandeliers that bathe the rooms in a harmonious atmosphere. The bathrooms are urban and contemporary, and include a rain shower and/or bathtub, you'll also find complimentary Bulgari amenities, bathrobe and slippers. They even provide a Nespresso coffee machine and minibar with complimentary soft-drinks & beer.
More importantly though, the hotel is family friendly and offers 24-hour in-room dining with a selection of hot and cold dishes. There's state-of-the-art entertainment facilities such as a Touch-screen IP telephone, 40-inch flat-screen TV, Wired and wireless internet access as well as a media-hub tailored to meet every need. Suites feature separate living, dining & bedroom areas as well as their own onsite cooking facilities in order to make it easier, more pleasant and more relaxed to stay for longer periods.
The Hotel Schweizerhof Bern's rich gastronomic offering is hard to resist. Dining reaches new heights and is an experience that combines traditional with modern culinary art, thereby offering an experience that is true to the hotel's philosophy. The lavish and legendary Jack's Brasserie is firmly rooted in the history and tradition of the hotel. Its attractive decor with pretty alcoves, parquet flooring and stylish lighting promises an elegant fin-de-siecle atmosphere that is romantically belle epoque.
Jacks Brasserie serves typical, brasserie-style fare such as Alsatian choucroute, bouillabaisse with rouille sauce and toasted baguette, as well as popular local classics like its famous 'Jack's Wiener Schnitzel', an intimidating portion served with warm potato salad. In all, the hotel offers one a choice between French, Swiss, Mediterranean, Japanese and Middle Eastern cuisine.
The hotels a-la-carte breakfast is also served at Jack's or in the room. One can choose between continental breakfast and the rich Schweizerhof breakfast. When the weather permits, guests can start their day with a breakfast of fresh bagels, birchermuesli, coffee, fruit juices and vegan smoothie bowls on the rooftop terrace overlooking Bern. The hotel also houses three hives full of honeybees in "mini-hotels" on the roof terrace who produce the hotel's own 'Sky Deluxe' honey.
For a drink and a light bite guests can relax at the lobby bar, the cigar lounge or the Sky terrace. The Lobby Lounge Bar in the heart of the hotel offers 60 comfortable seats to make one feel at home. From coffee and pastries, to appetizers and midnight snacks, it is a hot spot in town. With its modern design, international ambiance, tasty dishes and refreshing drinks it is the ideal meeting point for hotel and external guests.
Continuing the exquisite balance of old and new is the Cigar Lounge where an outstanding selection of top-quality cigars and brandies can be enjoyed in. With its modern and elegant fumoir, the luxurious smoking room exudes a warm, refined atmosphere where hotel guests and non-residents can heat up when the temperature drops.
The elegant Sky Terrace offers a breathtaking 360 degree panorama of Berne's most famous sites and majesty of the Alps, accompanied by refreshing cocktails and glorious light summer dishes. Stylish lounge music lends a unique atmosphere to what is surely the most exceptional roof terrace in the capital, making it a great meeting point.
The hotel also offers 'Happy Hour' on Thursday evenings from 5 to 9. Guests can celebrate with live music at the Lobby Lounge Bar or if the weather allows it on the trendy Sky Terrace. During the Sunday shopping days in Bern, and on the last two Saturdays before Christmas, the hotel serves an array of winter delicacies of roasted chestnuts with a wintery drink or a glass of champagne, or an entire seasonal degustation platter.
No hotel is complete without a Spa and the Schweizerhof Bern has one that spreads across 500 square meters to recharge your batteries. It is a temple of relaxation with a pamper pool, hammam (Turkish steam bath), Finnish sauna, not to mention a fully equipped 24-hour gym, and treatment rooms that is perfect for further relaxation, sensuality and calm. For utter bliss, indulge your senses with its renowned collaboration with Sothys Paris and Jacqueline Piotaz Switzerland.
Adding to its versatility, the hotel has Salon Trianon, a ballroom featuring impressive stucco ceilings, imposing marble columns and chandeliers in the original Belle Epoque design. It is ideal for birthdays, anniversaries, corporate events, wedding receptions, and other celebratory moments on a small or grand scale.
For those who may be on the hunt for a private space to conduct high level meetings or simply some quiet time to work, the Schweizerhof's business rooms provide unmatchable locations for any presentation or work function. The hotels Bel Etage features 800 square meters of both large and small rooms appropriate for events of all kinds, accommodating groups up to 450 people.
The highlight to any stay at the Schweizerhof is its service and superb hospitality which is paramount. As one would expect from a Swiss Palace hotel, the staff are second to none and always ready to help. Iris Fluckiger, the host and General Manager together with her team look after the well-being of the hotel guests with passion, commitment and joy.
The Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & THE SPA is more than just a luxury hotel and is for those who appreciate heritage, good taste, and fine food, all delivered with professionalism. Incorporating a sophisticated style of French charm and English understatement, it adds a new dynamic social experience to the heart of Switzerland. The hotel has long set a very high bar of luxury comfort and accommodation, and from the moment you set eyes on it, you know you have arrived at a special place. Whether its business, weekend travel, or really diving in, Hotel Schweizerof Bern is all you need for a perfect trip. With its combination of contemporary flair, classic design and the richest heritage in Bern, you'll probably never want to leave!
This article first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of LOVEFMD magazine. Download the digital edition from www.lovefmd.com to see more stunning images of The Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & The Spa. Alternatively, you can also order the print edition here.
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