Geneva is my home town. I spent my childhood and adolescent years in this cosmopolitan city by the lake before taking off for London and then Rome. Seduced and adopted by these foreign cities, I never came back home to live but I enjoy every visit to Geneva. The trip is made all the more luxurious and indulgent when we decide to treat ourselves and stay at the grande dame of luxury Geneva hotels, Les Bergues.
Built in 1834, the Hôtel des Bergues is a neo-classical landmark on Lake Léman (Lake Geneva). It’s the most glamorous and sophisticated place to stay in the city. World royalty and statesmen stay in this gorgeous palace hotel standing majestically in the centre of town, on the north bank of Lake Geneva, at the point where the lake empties into the Rhône river. To the right is a pedestrian bridge leading to the rue du Rhône and its elegant boutiques, and to the left one can admire the Jet d’Eau fountain. During the warm summer months, the Bains des Pâquis are just a short stroll away : a mythic trendy urban beach on the crystal clear waters of Lake Geneva.
“I should like the window to open onto the Lake of Geneva – and there I’d sit and read all day like the picture of somebody reading.” John Keats
A Four Seasons property since 2005, the Hôtel des Bergues blends history and heritage with the comfort, luxury, genuine and excellent personal service one has come to expect from the Four Seasons brand. The hotel is reminiscent of the Four Seasons Georges V in Paris but on a more intimate scale. It’s not all antique furniture and swagged curtains though, much of the design is contemporary. Our favorite rooms are the Loft Studios on the top floor, large contemporary rooms with a fireplace and an oversized and superbly appointed marble bathroom. Although spacious and luxurious, they cannot but pale in comparison to Les Bergues’ Royal Suite, a glorious one-of-a-kind apartment with high ceilings, marble columns and a private terrace overlooking the city and the lake, furnished and decorated in a style reminiscent of Versailles.
We love dining among olive trees on the terrace of the hotel’s Michelin-starred Italian restaurant, Il Lago. He-colibri, who was an habitué of Il Lago before we met, introduced me to the mouthwateringly delicious oxtail agnolotti with red wine and sage… Another superb place is the roof terrace with spectacular panoramic views of the city and home in the warmer months to Japanese restaurant Izumi. A trendy place for beautifully healthy and inventive Nikkei cuisine, a result of the fusion of Japanese recipes and traditions with Peruvian ingredients.
Crossing the pedestrian bridge by the hotel, one reaches the busy shopping streets of Geneva, at the foot the old town hill. As one walks up the hill, shops are replaced by galleries, small cafés and antique shops, all joined by narrow passages and hidden courtyards. And of course the imposing and austere St. Peter’s Cathedral – Geneva is the adoptive city of John Calvin, one of key leaders of the Protestant Reformation.
After a busy day boutique-hopping and walking up and down cobbled streets, what could be nicer that a few long moments in the Hôtel des Bergues’ warm and inviting Spa Mont Blanc, a huge yet secluded space offering a range of signature treatments and a gorgeous pool with all-round views of the city…
Hôtel des Bergues | 33 quai des Bergues | 1201 Geneva | Switzerland | fourseasons.com/geneva