The Dolder Grand – Zurich, Switzerland
Since it opened in 1899, The Dolder Grand has been the place to stay in the financial capital of Zurich. With a privileged perch high above Lake Zurich, the hotel is home to a Michelin two-star restaurant and a stunning spa. This is where celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio find respite; the guestbook is filled with rapturous praise from the likes of Laurence Fishburne, Eva Longoria and the Dave Matthews Band.
On a recent trip to attend the hotels Epicure culinary festival, it was found that The Dolder Grand continues to devise innovative amenities (like the art iPad to explore the hotels collection) and exciting experiences (like Epicure) to delight guests.
The hotel has just 175 guestrooms, but the “back of the house” is enormous — bigger than the hotel itself. We strolled what the staff call “the highway” to discover the myriad kitchens, the dry cleaning for staffs uniforms, and — perhaps most impressive of all — the florist workshop where a four-person team creates stunning arrangements from the fresh flowers delivered daily. (12,000 carnations are used for the famous Easter “egg” display in the springtime.)
Epicure was a highlight. Reigning over the highest ranked restaurant in Zurich, Chef Heiko Nieder serves refined cuisine that combines unexpected flavors and textures. Three years ago, Nieder launched Epicure as a gourmet event with gala dinners and expert-led Masterclasses starring haute products like caviar, cigars and Cognac. For the third edition in September 2016, Nieder invited four culinary giants: Andreas Caminada from Switzerland, Harald Wohlfahrt from Germany, Pascal Barbot from France, and Chicago-based Curtis Duffy, whose innovative cooking and life story have captivated American audiences. Epicure has become so popular that it sold out within two hours after the reservations line opened.
Nieder explained his strategy in selecting the invitees, all of whom boast three Michelin stars. Flailing from different countries, this quartet of international chefs represents a diversity of culinary styles, so that diners can indulge in a unique experience each night of Epicure, if they so desire. Cooking in tandem, the two chefs create an eight- course feast, complementing each others styles. Nieder riffed on Duffys wagyu ribeye dish, creating an accompaniment to his pigeon course that echoed Duffys pitcher of Thai bouillon. At the end of the meal, the 40-person kitchen brigade paraded through the restaurant to a round of applause.
The Dolder Grand isn’t just about gastronomy. At a time when the hospitality Zeitgeist is all about art-filled hotel spaces, The Dolder Grand has displayed an impressive art collection since it reopened after a renovation in 2008. Major oeuvres can be found throughout, by the likes of Salvador Dali, Flenry Moore and Keith Haring. Andy Warhols “Big Retrospective Painting” hangs above reception. With a dedicated art iPad, guests can tour the hotel and immerse themselves in the artwork.
Booking Tips: The clever, curving architectural design by Foster and Partners affords lake views for 80 percent of the rooms. Thoughtful in-room touches include a Nespresso machine, a Swiss electrical adapter, luxe bath products by Kerstin Florian, and intuitive technology. At the touch of an iPad button, you can close the curtains over the floor-to-ceiling windows leading to your balcony. A trip of a switch and you can discreetly signal to house-keeping that you are “not to be disturbed.”
VIPs are comfortable here throughout the year; there is no peak season. The top room in the house is the two-bedroom Maestro Suite, named for conductor Herbert von Karajan. It occupies 4,300 square feet in the highest point of the main buildings tower. Musical references abound, including a grand piano and a harp as decor. There’s a sauna, a library, en suite kitchen and a circular dining room with a fireplace. The terrace offers the hotels best viewpoint over the lakeside city of Zurich. This suite can be booked for private events and special occasions.
Other top suites: The Carezza Suite (on the top floor of the Spa Wing, equipped with a terrace spanning the entire suite); the Masina Suite (also on the top floor of the Spa Wing, the film set for David Finchers “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”); Suite 100 (inspired by the Rolling Stones — The 100 Club in London); and the Terrazza Suite (a three-bedroom residence suited for longer stays). For VIP bookings, reach out to Director of Sales Anna Roost.
The sky’s the limit for the nine-person concierge team, led by Chef Concierge Eliane Walter Schuller, whose team can handle helicopter tours, flights on private jets and last-minute tickets for sold-out events. Recenty, the concierge team arranged to have a prestigious opera singer perform in a guest’s suite during a private dinner. Managing Director Mark Jacob — a graduate of both the Lausanne Hotel School and Cornell — is also an amiable presence at The Dolder Grand. Hotels are in his blood; Jacob grew up in the fashionable Swiss alpine resort of St. Moritz, where his parents managed the Suvretta House.
If you can tear yourself away from your room, The Dolder Grand has a free, hourly shuttle service to the Zurich city center. It’s well worth discovering the serene city, which was the home of choice for many cultural notables, including Thomas Mann, Carl Jung and James Joyce.
A word for fans of hotel breakfasts: It doesn’t get much better than this. Saltz restaurant is a gorgeous setting with cool design nods to Switzerland, including rocks from the Matterhorn and a red neon light tracing the alpine mountain panorama on the wall. The breakfast buffet is also perfectly Instagrammable. This work of art comprises pungent local cheeses, bircher muesli, fresh berries, salmon and flaky pastries including gluten-free options. In fact, don’t limit your Saltz experience to breakfast. Lunch and dinner are likewise delicious with a focus on excellent, locally sourced products paired with Swiss wines.
Work off the calories in the gym, whose fitness classes run the gamut from Pilates to Boot Camp. An urban resort of this caliber wouldn’t be complete without a destination spa — and this one was designed by Sylvia Sepielli, who just designed The Breakers’ new spa in Palm Beach. In a country known for its anti-aging beauty therapies and medical treatments, The Dolder spa stands out for its facilities. The Aqua Zone has a snow room, saunas, hammams, kotatsu footbaths and sunaburo loungers filled with heated black pebbles. There are 18 treatment rooms, where therapies utilize products by La Prairie, Kerstin Florian and Amala, and the spiraling meditation walk features a mosaic decorated with 10,000 mirrors. Overseen by Director Therese Martirena, the spa is not just about recharging your batteries. The four pillars are beauty, detox, relaxation and vitality. Note: The Dolder Grand also has a Medical Wellness program with a network of affiliated doctors for treatments and cosmetic surgery.
Icing on the cake: Soak in the Jacuzzi on the outdoor terrace, overlooking Zurich, the mirror-like lake and the mountains beyond.