In 1844, Johannes Baur created the magnificent Baur au Lac hotel which was the first hotel to overlook Lake Zurich and the mountains for noteworthy guests of aristocratic and important guests.
Notable visitors include recent celebrities like Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, and Daniel Craig as well as King Ludwig I of Bavaria, the King Carl XVI of Sweden, the Queen Sonja of Norway, Emperor I, Halle Selassie of Ethiopia, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Richard Wagner, Marc Chagall, Henry Moore, Thomas Mann, Alfred Hitchcock, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobridgida, Audrey Hepburn, Jane Mansfield and Brigitte Bardot.
In 2017, with over 200 million Swiss Francs investment over 173 years, Baur au Lac remains a leading 5-star prestigious hotel still owned by the founding Baur-Kracht family. Consisting of 74 standard rooms, 27 junior suites and 18 suites, the hotel is most praised for their top level of customer service with their prominent concierge team led by a member of Clefs d’Or; Jérémie Varry.
In front of the hotel is a Californian Redwood tree which has existed for 122 years and inside the hotel, 1,000 flowers are placed in the hotel daily by their two in-house specialist florists.
Arriving on new private jet membership service Surf Air, I first met the General Manager Wilhelm Luxem at the jet lounge in Zurich. A quick 15 minutes’ drive from the airport in one of their private VIP BMW cars, we arrived at the elegant Baur au Lac.
With a front terraced restaurant, the Rive Gauche Terrasse offering sundaes in a leafy park overlooking the lake and a view onto the mountains, this sleek white hotel is a perfect location for intimacy and quick access to Zurich’s main town where the financial district Paradeplatz is as well as one of the most ideal European shopping destinations Bahnhofstrasse is only a one-minute walk away.
The General Manager kindly invited me for a lunch in their art deco style drawing room Le Hall near the entrance. Le Hall is a recently refurbished lobby offering afternoon tea, desserts, and a light lunch or dinner menu. I ordered English breakfast tea and homemade shortbread then delved into a fantastic lunch which included an incredible heavy Bordeaux wine by the glass and fresh steak tartare (with extra chopped fresh chilis on the side).
As I had quite a bit of work to do, I decided to check in to my junior suite where homemade Swiss chocolates and fruit awaited me. All suites are designed in either Art Deco, Louis XIV, or Regency style with double bathrooms, sunken bathtubs and their own Baur au Lac bespoke bath products.
The amenities and services available are wonderful, with 24-hour room service, florists, medical masseurs, a private garage to house your classic Porsche or Ferrari where they will also wash it or maintain upon request, an in-room physiotherapy massage, a limousine service and their very own wine trading company boasting over 700,000 fine wines. On top of that, if you happen to be bringing your puppy on your private jet, you can keep your pet in your room.
After a few hours of work, I took a hot bath using their luscious bath products and proceeded to have a quick nap. In the evening, I adorned my SixtyNinety swimsuit and decided to walk across the Rive Gauche Terrasse through the park and explore Lake Zurich and the possibility for a swim. I was told by concierge that the water would be approximately 18 degrees but, alas, it was raining when I arrived. The view of the lake, boats, swans and lakeside hotels is stunning. I was advised by the concierge that the water is super clean albeit perhaps a bit too chilly to swim at night under the rain.
When I returned to the hotel, I asked to book into their highly rated Michelin star restaurant Pavillon under the direction of head chef Laurent Eperon. Both the Pavillon restaurant and Laurent Eperon have been awarded “GaultMillau up & coming chef of the year 2017” one Michelin-star and 18 GaultMillau points. The classic décor was designed by famed interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon who also revived Four Seasons George V in Paris and the Hotel Hermitage in Monte Carlo. Traveling by myself, I thought I would make a bit of an effort and adorn a mint green evening dress and heels to get ready for my 9-course tasting menu which would surely be immense.
I started off with a glass of Bordeaux with a crispy cornetto filled with Jerusalem artichoke. The next dish was raw white fish rolled with fresh herbs. The raw Bluefin tuna fish with sliced olives, green bean, elderflower and chive was fresh and cold. Foie gras terrine with red currants and smidgeon of rock salt was delicious. Warm John Dory Petites Peches was served with chanterelle mushrooms, vin Jaune and sardines in a foamy broth. The palette cleanser in between tasted like custard, fennel, macadamia nut with orange segments on top. The main was a medium rare perfectly cooked Swiss steak with spring vegetables, eel and BBQ. Dessert was a fresh pure honey, Grosswangen goats cheese and crumbled hazelnuts. The gingerbread cheesecake with popcorn afterwards was a step too far after eating for 3 hours straight and I passed on the sugary petit fours but decided to go with a specially selected cheese platter based on my love for mature hard cheese and stinking bishop.
After a decadent meal and night’s sleep, I awoke to news that the wonderful concierge organised their VIP Phantom Rolls Royce to escort me to the airport back to London. Hands down, one of the best customer service experiences, I would highly recommend Baur au Lac Zurich for one of the best hotel experiences in Zurich if not the world.
Baur au Lac