A Zurich Darling: The Dolder Grand
By Linda Hayes
Bleary-eyed after an early morning chauffeured drive down to Zurich from the alpine village of Gstaad, where I’d been enjoying the royal treatment at The Gstaad Palace, I perked up big-time at my first glimpse of The Dolder Grand, my home for the next two days. Set prominently on a verdant dolder, or hilltop, with “a Beverly Hills address” and big views of the city, LakeZurich and the Alps, the historic hotel was an architectural marvel.
Reopened in 2008 after a major, 4-year restoration and addition by world-renowned architect Lord Foster, of Foster and Partners in London, the steepled, 1899 main building was flanked with eco-chic glass wings — the Golf Wing and the Spa Wing — wrapped with glazed, stencil-cut aluminum screens that curved gracefully off each side.
My eyes opened wider as I entered, entranced by both the grandness of the aptly named Stone Hall, with its sweeping staircase, and the significant artwork (all part of a more than 100-piece collection that includes works by such notables as Andy Warhol, Fernando Bartero, Joan Miro and Keith Haring) placed strategically within the adjoining reception, lobby and bar.
The dazzle continued with entry to my suite in the Spa wing. Sleek and modern, yet comfortable and serene, it was typical of the new wing rooms, except, perhaps, for the ultra-extravagant Carezza, Suite 100 and Masina Suites (scenes from Girl With the Dragon Tattoo were shot in the latter). Rooms in the original core building are more traditional Swiss in style, though no less luxurious, in decor. Circling through sliding mirrored doors that linked the bedroom with the bath and dressing rooms, and out onto the terrace, I was tempted to press the ‘do not disturb’ button on my door and retreat.
Luckily, I didn’t. For then I would have missed hopping the cherry-red Dolderbahn funicular down into the city for a tour of historic Old Town, and a lush organic facial at The Dolder’s Zen-like spa, which, in addition to 18 treatment rooms (two suites have Mother-of-Pearl walls), also featured Japanese-inspired lounge tubs filled with smooth, warm pebbles and the Snow Paradise, a cave-like room encased floor-to-ceiling entirely in “snow.”
But what I would have missed most was the elaborate dinner prepared by chef Heiko Nieder at The Dolder’s gorgeous, 2 Michelin Star dining room, called, simply, The Restaurant. Beginning with several plates of “small greetings” and ending several hours and too many courses later to count with miniature chocolates and petits fours, it was a true testament to the impeccable taste and generous hospitality the Swiss are noted for.
Aspen-based freelancer Linda Hayes writes about culinary travel, architecture/design and the luxury lifestyle. She has been a long-time contributor to Luxe Interiors & Design, SKI, Association News, Aspen Magazine, Mountain Living, Stratos, genconnect.com and gardenstotables.com, and has written for Western Interiors, Elle Deco, Hemispheres, Hawaiian Style, Robb Report and others. When she’s not on the road, Linda makes her home in an architect-designed, modern straw bale house with elk and deer for neighbors. She lives with her husband, Kelly J. Hayes (a wine writer and spotter for NBC’s Sunday Night Football), a black Labrador named Vino and a sourdough starter named Rosemary.