For a traveller who likes hotels with a certain “je ne sais quoi”, the luxurious Schweizerhof Bern was surely a treat. In the heart of the Swiss capital, Schweizerhof Bern has been standing tall for 155 years now – as the hotel staff proudly shared with me.
My Swiss hospitality experience began with a seamless check-in and a bite at the lobby lounge. The dips, tartars and home-made crackers on my platter were colorful and tasty – just perfect to brighten up a Bernese autumn afternoon. “I just love this space”, I thought: cosy and elegant yet animated and full of life.
“We have a DJ party here tonight. It is our regular Thursday event”, says a member of the hotel staff. I couldn’t really imagine where – the space seemed so small. But later in the evening when I passed by the lobby, the lights were dimmed, the music was groovy yet not too loud, cocktail tables had popped up in spaces I hadn’t seen before and the crowd became younger and cooler. “How creative!” – thought the hotelier in me, knowing how difficult it is to get this transformation right.
My room did not disappoint either. The interior designer has certainly developed this combo right: parquet, mirrors and chandeliers – the three staples of elegance – harmoniously blended with earthy tones, while the bright red belt of the bed cushions was just the right hue to break and bring together a sophisticated ensemble. Before I made myself comfortable, I spent a good while taking pictures, trying to find the right angles and being fascinated by the stylish welcome platter with fruits and home-made chocolate treats. The hand-written welcome note from the host was just the final touch for me to think: “These people are some fine hoteliers!”
As the hotel has the only luxury spa in Bern, a spa treatment was in order. I went for my appointment cuddled in the fluffy bathrobe I found in my room and I chose their signature Honey Fascia treatment. The therapist was proud to explain they use their own honey, made by the bees in the beehives placed on the hotel’s rooftop. Iris, the General Manager of the hotel, explained to me in a later conversation how impressive the quality of their honey is as the bees feed on the pollen of the flowers from Bern’s botanical garden. But back to my massage: I felt how my skin became rejuvenated with every sticky touch, to only then melt under the soft towel soaked in warm water and further relax under silky oil strokes.
The hotel’s food and wine offering was just as outstanding. Jack’s Brasserie is one stop in Bern no traveller should miss. Perfectly restored to preserve its heritage, this restaurant is an historical staple of the city. The spectacular Wiener Snitzel is one of their signature dishes – I’m quite sure this platter feeds two! The sommelier was certainly one who knew her trade and was able to recommend some of the best Swiss wines that felt just right with the food.
But what made my experience in Bern really outstanding was the people I met. “Hospitality is always about the people!” – I thought when I realised how passionate Bernese are. Passionate about their hotel, their city and bout their laid back lifestyle. Every single person I met here was eager to talk about the destination, its history and its importance in the wider Swiss context. The city tour they recommended – “Follow your nose in Bern” – is the most creative induction into a destination I’ve ever had and I have reviewed it here in detail.
Bern was my first Swiss stop and Schweizerhof Bern was the first Bürgenstock Selection hotel to be visited. More Tales of Travel and Trade will surely unfold here…
Note: Studying hotel brands, how they translate concepts, how they work and how they articulate their identifiable personalities has become one of my professional passions. I am fascinated when I see unique hotel concepts that manage to translate the brand idea into a genuine hospitality experience.
During my recent trip to Switzerland I had the chance to visit the three hotels managed by the Bürgenctock Selection: Schweizerhof Bern, Royal Savoy Lausanne and Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne. Three historic Swiss hotels renovated and restored to perfection, in three different destinations in Switzerland.