Baur au Lac, Zurich’s most prestigious luxury address

From its unrivalled location, right on the lake within its very own private park and steps from celebrated luxury shopping mecca Bahnhofstrasse to its impeccable food and service, the privately owned Baur au Lac (now run by the sixth generation) has been exceeding expectations for over a century, establishing itself as one of the finest city hotels in Europe.

Baur au Lac boasts some of Zurich’s finest luxury suites, most of them with views of the lake and the canal (most bathrooms with day-light); a unique collection of the finest Swiss and international wines in its very own wine store situated on the groundfloor (the wine house supplied several other luxury hotels) and bespoke interiors created by the hotel’s inhouse designer Frédéric d’Haufayt, with each and every piece handmade for the hotel.

Established in 1854 by Austrian hotelier Johannes Baur as a retreat for the aristocracy who wished to remain incognito, the hotel hortly gained fame  based on luxury, splendor, and discretion. Richard Wagner premiered the first act of his Valkyrie opera at the hotel in 1856, and in 1892 Bertha von Suttner convinced the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel of the need for the international Nobel Peace Prize. Sisi, Austria’s Empress Elisabeth spent a whole summer at Baur au Lac, the German Emperor Wilhelm II and countless princes, counts and barons followed.

Modern day celebrities who have become patrons of the Baur au Lac include Arthur Rubinstein, Zubin Mehta, Placido Domingo, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Elton John. The visual arts have been represented by personalities such as Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Henry Moore and Fernando Botero.

Among the unique features of the Baur au Lac are its outdoor terrace, which, in Summer is THE hotspot of the elite in Zurich, the Pavillon Restaurant headed by One Michelin starred Chef Laurent Eperon which has unique panoramic views of the lake, garden and the canal and the team, which is made up as a large family that looks after guests as they would look after their own.

Throughout my stay, Baur au Lac’s ”family” have convinced me that it does not necessarily take an international luxury hospitality operator to provide the most genuine and personalized service – they would interact with guests by their name at every moment and every occasion, they would remember guest preferences to the smallest details and they would take nothing for granted when it comes to fulfilling every single desire.

For more than 170 years, Baur au Lac have maintained the lead in classic luxury accommodations in Zurich, with constant renovations of its facilities, the latest ample one in 2009, which saw a complete overhaul of all the rooms and suites as well as its fine dining restaurant.

The innovative approach of the hotel which encompasses its in-house interior designer, its very own wine store – has been maintained to present day, the hotel having recently launched its own fine chocolate collection and soon, a stunning restoration of its main lobby space, with light designers and interior decorators which will oversee the re-birth of the hotel’s impressive glass atrium cupola. The new lobby is expected to be inaugurated late September 2014.

Beyond its Michelin and GaultMillau recognitions, the Pavillon Restaurant which has recently been redesigned by famed international interior designer Pierre Yves Rochon, does not only succeed in recreating a spectacular ambiance accompanied by flawless service and a beautiful presentation of all dishes, but also in its down to earth approach – food is extremely tasty and one can tell of the best quality ingredients.

Rarely have I spent such a memorable dinner, contemplating the lake and the city while breathing in the scent of the impressive purple themed flower arrangements. I could not think of a better spot for a special celebration such a wedding or even a sophisticated corporate dining event.

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Oliver Petcu in Zurich

Pavillon Restaurant at Baur au Lac Hotel, Zurich