Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne
Room type: Junior Suite
iuration: 12th > 14th May, 2017
Once upon a time there was a hotel called The Connaught. In its illustrious history, it has had less GMs than I’ve had Valentine’s cards from Beyonce, but who’s counting? So it should come as no surprise than upon leaving her role in 2015, Nathalie Seiler-Hayez was not going to end up in the nearby Holiday Inn washing dishes. Instead she decided that this GM malarky was right for her, and Beau-Rivace Palace was her next destination. And what a fitting sequel to The Connaught it was.
Thus began our Switzerland 9 day tour of Beau-Rivage Palace, Dolder Grand, Park Hotel and Park Hyatt Zurich.
Let me be honest with you, dear reader. Even though I paid for a room, I was guaranteed an upgrade to a Junior Suite pre-arrival. For you see, I know a guy, who knows a guy, who can upgrade rooms for a guy. So due to this, it will definitely have altered my approach to the stay, as in one sense it felt almost like a complimentary stay, even though I was paying the same as a base room and for the first time in a long time, I actually had to pay for breakfast; what a humbling experience.
I don’t care that I was on a very generous rate, I’m not letting them get away with this one. Let me quote their website: “Half an hour from Geneva international airport”. Maybe if you took a jetpack – which based on the wages of everyone in Switzerland is probably obtainable by most. No, you will instead need at least an hour. Remarkably, you can take an Uber for around 250 CHF or ask Beau-Rivage to collect you for around 250 CHF. Whilst both rates will not make it onto Amazon’s Black Friday sale any time soon, I think this is the first time I’ve seen value for money from a hotel regarding car transfers.
There is a large amount of construction work taking place at the front of the hotel, so it isn’t as inviting as you may hope, but still far more inviting than being invited for dinner by a wolf dressed as an old woman. We arrived around 12:30, knowing our room may not be available, and were told it would not be until 2pm. We’re now out of the winter season, so I was not expecting such a cold welcome. There were staff standing around the lobby doing nothing, then we found ourselves queuing to check in, even though the group in front of us were just standing there and multiple receptionists were doing nothing. When we managed to speak to someone and were informed of our 2pm check in time, they then just pointed us in the direction of where things were and left us to it.
It’s a bit of alright, isn’t it? Front facing views out onto their private gardens, and the not-so-private lake Geneva and some apparently well known mountains. The perfect view. Or so I thought, until arriving in Park Hotel Vitznau, but that’s one for another review. Let’s just call it near perfect for now.
You may not be in the center of the city, but the hotel generously provides free tram tickets, so providing you’re willing to go all 4 stops, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the usual bargain hunters shops, like Rolex, Patek Philippe and Omega.
Not all the snacks I’d want, but plenty of everything else. The bathroom was setup perfectly, with specific amenities that apparently, according to someone I once knew, would fit perfectly in your bag and look great in your shower back at home. The only letdown was the Bulgari toiletries, which always remind me of my shameful attempts and failures at upgrades in their London property.
The rooms are gorgeous, with so much natural light and light furnishings that you could be mistaken for thinking you’re in an art gallery.
I stopped believing in coincidences back when I grew up and looked exactly like the milkman, but if I did believe in them, I would consider it quite the coincidence that like The Connaught, Beau-Rivage Palace also has rooms divided into contemporary and traditional wings. We ended up in their contemporary wing. In fact, we ended up there twice, as upon every engineer in the northern hemisphere trying to get the Apple TV working, it just proved too much for all those brains on this occasion. So they did what any insane person would do, and they offered to move us to another Junior Suite. Interestingly there was a huge difference between both rooms, with one having a separate living room, whilst the first one having it as part of the bedroom. In true comedy fashion, the Apple TV didn’t work in the bedroom in the second room either, but we gave up at that point and realised that maybe, just maybe, that watching Dirty Grandpa wasn’t as culturally significant as we first thought. I decided against complaining, even though I’m sure given enough complaining we would have ended up in the penthouse.
The Junior Suites are very generous in size at 65-75sqm, which in most hotels would classify them in a higher suite category. Given the choice, even though it was smaller and without a separate living room, I would pick our first room, #160, as the amount of light coming in, high ceilings and the privacy offered by the bathroom outweighed the additional room offered.
Both rooms offered private balconies with spectacular views of the lake, mountains and apparently beamed happiness in my general direction, as that’s all I could feel whilst in this room. They were also most generous with their wardrobe space, to the point that you could fit most suites wardrobes in their wardrobes, along with all your luggage.
The curtains were next to useless for blackout. Or so I thought, as on our first night I was woken up around 4am by blinding light coming into the room. Yet it turned out that Beau-Rivage Palace does everything perfectly and has complete blackout blinds, and more blinds, and curtains and other contraptions to make the room entirely as dark as the thoughts running through my mind 95% of the time. It’s just the staff are not always perfect, as they forgot to lower any of these during turndown and never showed us they existed. They also gave us separate duvets and only 1 bottle of still and sparkling water, but I would only mention that if I wasn’t on a guaranteed upgrade.
If there was only one thing they could improve with the rooms, it’s the stupid key system in place that was clearly kept as a quirk of the good ol’ times, when Swiss bank accounts didn’t land you in a heap of trouble. You see, you must have a physical key and put it into a slot on the wall for any electricity to work. You must physically lock the door after yourself too, as they do not self-close. Most annoyingly, if you enter the key and turn it on, it turns all the lights on, so what a good opportunity to say good morning to your loved ones!
Beau-Rivage Palace is vast, yet manages to feel intimate. Just as I thought I’d managed to see it all, some new area pops up. And no expense was spared in any of it.
- Anne-Sophie Pic restaurant, where for a mere 420 CHF a meal can be yours
- Miyako Laussane, their Japanese restaurant
- La Terrasse, their breakfast restaurant
- L’Accademia, their Italian restaurant
- Café Beau-Rivage, their brasserie restaurant
- Lobby Lounge`
- Plenty of outdoor spaces
- Of course, a bar
- Huge number of event spaces and ballrooms that host people so important than just collecting their dust will be worth something one day.
After the less-than-impressive finger pointing from reception, we managed to find our way down to the sanctuary of the spa, where the staff experience could not be any different. We received the most warm welcome from Lena, a spa assistant whom gave us a full tour. I had not felt this welcomed since that time a group of women told me my face looked like David Dickinson arse and wanted a selfie.
The spa offered 3 water areas: indoor pool that leads into a small outdoor area at 30C, an outdoor pool at 28C and an indoor jacuzzi at 35C. There are separate male and female facilities for sauna, steam room and showers. Far from my favourite spa, but not bad at all. Yet this is something I had never seen before: phenomenal mixed with below average. The entire hotel is hugely stylish regardless of whether you’re in your room, eating breakfast of rummaging through the bins to find pregnancy tests to sell to the tabloids. You then come into the spa, which I can only assume is one of the newest areas of the hotel, and it has so many areas that feel cheap and of poor quality. The elevator that takes you down; the stained, torn carpets and rugs throughout; the awful changing rooms that feel more like a 4 star hotel; the waiting area that feels like a 3 star hotel and the lack of seating that deserves zero stars. After the fine offering of tea, and the never-ending supply of amazing staff checking up on us, you are just a few yards away from some incomprehensible cost cutting. Some of the wear and tear would cost almost nothing to fix, so I cannot understand the logic in allowing it to look that way.
Still, if you get annoyed about this in a spa, then your life is as miserable as mine, and I wouldn’t wish that upon you. Just go and enjoy it.
Grab a drink, sit outside and enjoy the view.
There are things here and there which could be improved upon, but overall, Beau-Rivage Palace is one of the finest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. But all superheroes have a flaw and in this case it remains the food. Let me put it this way: if I was broken down on a motorway and forced to stop at a Little Chef or Beau-Rivage, I do not know which one I would pick.
We tried their Japanese restaurant, in-room dining and breakfast. A few years ago I had been to every 3 and 2 Michelin star restaurant in England and just found that 80-90% of them disappoint me, so Anne-Sophie Pic’s place at ~£500 per head wasn’t going to be something I’d take a punt on. I met her at the opening night in Four Seasons Ten Trinity and thought her food was very good, but not £1000 worth of goodness. The Japanese restaurant was five worse and twice as expensive than a chain like Sticks’n’Sushi. In room dining was just awful, with food that I’d expect to be served up in Tesco. Whilst I appreciate Swiss waiters earn more than English CEOs, the cost of some of the food made Singapore look cheap, but at least Singapore delivered something edible. But why take life seriously, when you can enjoy a 75CHR cocktail in the bar? At those prices, life smiles at you.
Breakfast would be the only highlight, as the buffet was of decent quality, it was fairly priced and the setting ain’t too shabby either.
Ok, so people were allergic to showing us where to go; choosing instead of using their legs to use their finger pointing skills. Yet excluding that, the staff interaction was near flawless. It seemed everyone had a real pride in their job. Whilst there are no bargains to be found, the lack of service charge and any delivery charges actually made it cheaper than on first impression. In fact, there are just no hidden charges at all.
Deciding to close down the rational side of my brain as I was leaving the plane, I left my iPad on board. I asked the concierge if they could contact BA to retrieve it, and after numerous phone calls they managed to not only find it, but then have someone collect it from the airport for free for me. In response, I purchased two bottles of champagne for the concierge and they looked pleased, even if it’s probably what they serve in the staff canteen. Service is so good they probably have training on looking happy with receiving gifts you don’t want.
They called us a cab to take us to the train station. We said goodbye. They said goodbye. I hear they’re making a Hollywood film about it. It was pretty emotional. I guess you needed to be there.
The hotel is an absolute work of art. I feel I could spend all week trying to photograph the property and still not capture it as it deserves. From the gardens, the view, the meeting and events rooms, all the way down to the corridors, it’s simply a living art project.
- Classy room designs.
- Incredible views.
- Service straight from the finest Swiss hospitality schools.
Beau-Rivage Palace, which was simply phenomenal, albeit with god-awful food. What views; what design; what class; what service; what a property. I loved both the contemporary and traditional wings, with each offering light, elegantly designed rooms, but would certainly choose the contemporary in future due to just fitting in more with my style of luxury. I cannot wait to go back.
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