In a country of stunning scenery, with many impressively located hotels, the Bürgenstock Resort, on top of a mountain overlooking the lake at Lucerne, is surely one of Switzerland’s mostly spectacularly sited. But despite seeming remote, it’s only around a forty minute ride via the hotel’s funicular and ferry to get to the city and its attractions – though the resort is so self-contained that there isn’t much temptation to leave. Anwer Bati checks in.
Review: Bürgenstock, Lucerne
Founded in 1873, the resort – 1,600 feet above the lake – is actually three hotels spread over 150 acres: the medically centred Waldhotel, the historic Palace Hotel (cheaper and often used for groups and conferences) and the star of the trio: the Bürgenstock hotel, a modern venue brimming with superb facilities.
While it might lack the old school charm of Switzerland’s major classic hotels, the Bürgenstock stands out as one of the best on all levels, from 102 elegant rooms and suites, to a great choice of restaurants, impeccable service and amazing views.
When you walk into your room – with stone walls and wooden floors and panelling – the first feeling is a chalet vibe of cosy comfort. But then you notice how stylishly everything is done, from the fine fabrics and furniture to the intricate finishings. A quick glance out of the large window will reward you with a stunning scene of the lake (which carries through to the marble bathroom, stocked with Acqua di Parma amenities, where you’ll find a tub with a view).
The windows don’t open (of course) but, if you would like a quick breath of alpine air step into the corridor and you will find a large outdoor balcony with seats, heating and a view of the surrounding countryside. Or opt for one of the more simply designed (and slightly less luxurious) Heritage rooms in the old Palace building, as some of these have their own terraces and balconies.
There are no fewer than seven restaurants to choose from at Bürgenstock, spread throughout the resort.
The Spices Kitchen is where you can enjoy Asian dishes, preferably from its lush outdoor terrace. It’s also the venue for the varied and interesting choices offered for the hotel’s a la carte breakfast – with an unforgettable view of the lake, and Lucerne in the distance.
Then there’s the Oak Grill, located in the spa area by one of the pools, which serves light meals and snacks during the day and food from the wood-fired grill in the evening. Brasserie Ritzcoffier at the old hotel is the place for the highest quality classic French cooking.
Discover Persian food at Parisa – in Sophia Loren’s old home – or go to Verbena (with a mountain view) for Mediterranean dishes. Further up on the mountain is Osteria Alpina, where you’ll find a delicious menu serving Italian cuisine. There’s also Taverne 1879, housed in a typical chalet, serving hearty Swiss specialities in a rustic setting.
With its floor-to-ceiling windows, the aptly named Lakeview Bar is the centre of life at the Bürgenstock, offering light meals, a splendid afternoon tea, and an amazing range of cocktails. Just off it – naturally with a view – is the hotel’s spacious and expertly managed Cigar Bar.
All of the restaurants pride themselves on using local produce (the hotel has its own vineyard, as well as cheese made specially), some from as close as the mountain itself. But for a truly authentic local experience, the hotel can organise a visit to the nearby home of dairy farmer, Sepp Bircher, who will serve you a simple meal of local specialities with wine.
If you want to be active, the hotel offers plenty of choice: whether you fancy a round of tennis at the indoor courts (where you can get top quality coaching), a game of golf on the Bürgenstock’s nine-hole course and driving range, hiking in the mountain and its pastures, or complimentary outdoor mind and body courses, there’s plenty to get stuck into.
Speaking of courses, the resort pretty much has everything: cooking, chocolate making for children (for whom there is also a kids’ club) and mixology, as well as a programme of events through the year. There’s even a free state-of-the-art cinema with regular showings of the latest movies, complete with waiter service and a popcorn machine to really enhance the cinematic experience.
For a slower pace, the hotel’s spa – with its five pools, ten treatment rooms, Kos products and panoramic views – is one of the biggest and best in Switzerland. It’s the main draw not only for many guests, but also well-heeled residents of Lucerne. And there’s an excellent, fully equipped gym and fitness room you can make your way over to if you need an energy boost.
Then are also a number of shops in the hotel itself. The Sky Boutique is a store with travel essentials, accessories, clothing and souvenirs and the spa shop has treatment items, swimwear and leisure wear. A number of top brands even have their own outlets at the resort, so you shouldn’t find yourself stuck looking for anything.
Further afield, the hotel can arrange helicopter trips of the area and guided tours of Lucerne. Lucerne itself, dominated by the lake, is one of the most appealing cities in Switzerland. And, although you’ll see the lake from the hotel, it’s well worth taking a ride on one of the local public ferries, some of which offer lunch, to fully experience it. Fun fact: famous artist J.M.W. Turner liked the view of the lake (and Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus which overlook it) so much that he visited the town five times in the early 19th Century to paint it.
In town, there is no shortage of sights, such as the covered 14th Century Chapel Bridge, a number of fine churches and Renaissance buildings – as well as numerous good restaurants and bars. Music lovers can catch concerts and other events at the KKL cultural centre, and no art lover should miss a visit to the Rosengart Collection with its many works by Picasso (gallery founder Angela Rosengart knew him personally), Paul Klee and other leading 20th century artists.
The Final Word
With its setting and wealth of facilities and activities, the Bürgenstock is one of the most memorable and luxurious places to stay in the whole of Switzerland – but it is easy to get in to Lucerne as well.
Rooms at the Bürgenstock from £1250 per night; Palace Hotel from £580. Swiss International Airlines has several daily flights to Zurich from Heathrow (swiss.com). Lucerne (the station is very near the hotel’s ferry pier) is around an hour from Zurich by train (sbb.ch). burgenstockresort.com
A Swiss Travel Pass, available from the Swiss railway (SBB) website allows unlimited travel on public transport (including boats, trains and cable cars) and free or reduced entry to museums. sbb.ch
Images courtesy of Bürgenstock