Contributor/ Amy Guttman
Best Known For
Geneva’s historic first hotel is simply known as ‘des Bergues.’ The landmark property was built on the banks of Lake Geneva in 1834, and is still the most elegant place in town. The des Bergues also boasts the first lift in the region. Two narrow twin chambers remain, in working order, albeit with updated wiring and engineering. With both Switzerland and the hotel group sharing a reputation for the gold standard of hospitality, it’s no surprise the des Bergues is ranked one of the top 10 Four Seasons in the world.
The Good Stuff
Four Seasons fans know the discreet, attentive service is part of the good stuff. Staff anticipate needs, rather than await instruction. The real star is the gym and rooftop swimming pool. Untraditional classes attract even the most gym-averse, like underwater spinning, and hiking. Even better than that, are the monthly trips coordinated by the gym manager for members and residents, free of charge. During my stay, an all-ages group of about a dozen was headed for a hike just over the French border in Annecy – that’s what separates the des Bergues from other fine five-stars, on a global level.
The hotel attracts an international crowd of families, couples and business people. The atmosphere is sophisticated, but comfortable. Outdoor seating is popular, as is the main bar most times of day. It’s busy at weekends, and hosts weddings, largely kept away from public areas. Hipsters head to Izumi, the rooftop bar for dreamy views of the entire city, while traditionalists, and those with an appreciation for a luxuriously old fashioned, but not dated, lounge stick with Le Bar des Bergues just beyond the lobby.
Inside the Hotel 10/10
It’s old school sense of grandeur, with sculptures, crystal chandeliers and gilded columns in the lobby, bursting with purple and pink hydrangeas. Rooms are, as one would imagine, stately and elegant, but not over the top. Bright yellow and black tubes of Aqua di Parma dot the bathrooms and suites are incredibly spacious. Breakfast is served in a beautiful room, reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s days, and I’m quite certain he would have enjoyed the many muesli toppings before making his way to the wood-panelled bar. Sun beds by the rooftop pool look out over the lake, with open windows on warm days.
Outside the Hotel 9/10
One of the best addresses in the city, the des Bergues sits at the banks of Lake Geneva, with views of Jet D’eau. It’s just a short walk across a footbridge to the old town. For those joining the Swiss in their lake swimming, the hotel is well located for easy access to an entry point. Nearby, the food hall at department store Manor rivals Selfridge’s with ready-made food, a bakery, a deli, and of course, an entire section dedicated to chocolate.
Image courtesy Four Seasons