A luxury guide to Lausanne: Where to stay, where to eat and what to see and do
Lausanne is the second-largest city on the shores of Lake Geneva, combining a dynamic commercial town with the locality of a holiday resort.
This was my first visit to Switzerland and my first trip away since falling pregnant. So, what better way to spend a few days than in a luxury fairytale palace?
Royal Savoy Hotel and Spa
Tucked away in the centre of Lausanne, dating back to 1909, is the Royal Savoy Hotel and Spa.
It’s an historic Art Nouveau-style building, with a large tower and Neo-Baroque crowned turrets, and has drawn the world’s royal families to the city of Lausanne for many years.
After an 80 million pound five-year refurbishment project, the hotel now has a touch of contemporary flair with its colour changing chandeliers and quirky touches from modern art to statement furniture.
For me, it was the finer details that stood out, I loved beautiful fresh flowers scattered around the hotel, and the branded umbrellas came in handy too!
There are 101 rooms plus an additional 95 in the garden wing. With a backdrop of Lake Geneva and the looming Alp mountains, the view from our bedroom window was very special indeed.
After a long journey, (and swollen pregnant ankles), the spacious bathtub and Bvlgari toiletries were a perfect restorative… as were the Swiss chocolates that were left in our room as an arrival gift.
Getting around Lausanne couldn’t have been easier. The underground system, the Lausanne Metro, is a two-line driverless system. It may be the smallest city in the world to have an underground, but boy was it handy!
Our stop (Delices) was literally just over the road from the Royal Savoy and armed with our Swiss Travel Passes and passports, we had access to this service as well as all the buses, boat cruises and free entry to over 500 museums.
You probably wont need to show your Swiss Pass, as there is an honesty system in place, but if you don’t have one you will receive a large fine.
Café De Grancy
Just one stop away, sitting on in a quiet neighbourhood, is Café De Grancy, one of Lausanne’s most popular cafes.
Why? Here you will find modern bistro cooking with a touch of creativity. There is a relaxed vibe, but service is quick and friendly. If you want to eat here, book ahead, especially at lunch as it tends to get quite busy!
As the sun was out we sat outside to eat and dined on Grancy’s delicious dishes. My husband was exceptionally impressed with the food; in fact he couldn’t stop talking about this particular salmon dish for weeks after.
Le Spa Du Royal
The 1500 square metre spa is in a brand new wing of the hotel, which also features a fitness suite, swimming pool and hairdresser. I checked in for a special pregnancy massage during my stay.
My 50-minute massage in one of the private treatment rooms was incredible, and as my therapist used gentle strokes, soothing those aches and pains, I felt my baby kicking to his contentment too. I even drifted off, which almost never happens to me during a massage! I didn’t want it to end, so spent a little more time relaxing in the spa with a cup of tea.
Café du Grutli
Set in one of Lausanne’s oldest buildings we were very excited about having a traditional French-Swiss eating experience.
In a room full of character, we took our seats and admired the wooden bistro furniture and the stone walls of this beautiful restaurant.
I was so happy to see fondue on the menu; I’d never tried it before. Now, I am not a huge cheese fan, but after sampling this fondue, you couldn’t stop me from wanting to scrape the bottom of the pan clean!
Following this I had the morels, served with proper French fries, but the star of the show for me was the ice cream filled profiteroles for dessert. Ice cream just so happens to be one of my main cravings at the moment so I was in dessert heaven.
This museum is the largest information centre on the subject of the Olympic Games in the world.
It is one of the most dynamic and compelling I’ve ever visited, presenting the cornerstones of olympism – sport, art and education – through its ultra-modern, interactive facilities, dating back from Greek antiquity up until modern times.
As a keen sports person myself I enjoyed strolling around the exhibits, catching up on years of sport I’d never explored before.
Ouchy Pier boat cruise to Cully
Just a short walk from the Olympic Museum is the tree-lined, flower-bedecked walkways of Ouchy pier.
Again, armed with our trusted Swiss Passes, we boarded CGN’s popular Lake Geneva boat cruise, which would take us to Cully. It was a beautiful way to see the sights of the Lakes and mountains and made a change from the Metro.
Do note though, you have to keep an ear out for the stops. Don’t make the same mistake as us and miss your stop! Luckily, it wasn’t a problem as the next boat stop was right beside a train station, so we simply hopped on a train and went back to Cully, thank goodness for the Swiss Pass!
Lunch at Auberge du Raisin
After a stroll through the picturesque town of Cully, we found ourselves at the romantic Auberge du Raisin for lunch, housed in a charming historic building with two restaurants – la Rôtisserie and la Pinte.
Here you can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Lavaux region, a UNESCO landmark famous for its wines, and the magnificent view of Lake Geneva combined with the charms of a typical waterfront Swiss medieval village.
In the dining room you will find it has its own rotisserie that cooks up a lavish meaty meal. It oozes old world charm, very traditionally French in setting and cuisine even though we are technically in Swissland.
Both my husband and I could have sat there all day. The food was exceptional, and the service was second to none. It was just a shame I couldn’t try the wine, but perhaps next time, as we would certainly return!
Icing at Royaume Melazic
If you are visiting Lausanne with the family then you must take a visit to Royaume Melazic, not far from the town hall. We spent an hour decorating and icing some baked biscuits – it was nice to have to have a little fun and practising for things to come.
Dinner at Brasserie De Montbenon
This brasserie is one of the trendiest meeting places in Lausanne. The classical architecture and the Brasserie’s contrasting modern furnishings are really something, featuring a high ceiling and a terrace that opens onto a park with a unique view.
It was packed out when we visited, and also dark, so we couldn’t appreciate those amazing views that we knew were there, but with summer not far away evening diners will be in for a treat.
The menu offers traditional, hearty and satisfying French and Swiss dishes. Coq-au-vin, Cordon Bleu, and Cassolette with wild mushrooms to name a few…
Fans of Café de Grancy and Café St. Pierre will find themselves among friends – the same team is behind all three restaurants.
Tour around city Lausanne Tourism
The ancient cobbled streets of Lausanne’s old town are the perfect place to walk off any over-indulgence.
Climb to the hilltop Cathedral, with stunning views inside and out, then shop in charming boutiques, bookshops and chocolatiers, or browse the bustling market, a century-old tradition, on Saturdays.
One thing we particularly noticed about Lausanne was how clean it was! There is a zero waste policy and if someone sees you dropping litter, they can report you and fine you… and then take a cut from your fine, what a system – but it works!
Our final hours in Lausanne were coming to an end and what better way to end it than with pizza and panoramic views!
Le Lacustre offers an incredible 180° terrace, which is very popular with city dwellers and visitors. The atmosphere in the restaurant’s authentic vintage setting is casual and fun.
Whether you want to spend the weekend brushing up on your history, getting to know the Olympic capital or indulging on fondue, this city is a wonderful introduction to Switzerland.
We managed to cover a lot of ground in a few days thanks to our Swiss Pass! So I would highly recommend getting one if you visit.
See more of Rachel’s Lausanne trip in this video
Things to see and do
If you are looking for further ideas and suggestions please visit lausanne-tourisme.ch/en/ who very kindly organised our itinerary for our trip.
Swiss Travel Pass
The Swiss Travel Pass entitles you to unlimited travel on consecutive days throughout the rail, bus and boat Swiss Travel System network. The Swiss Travel Pass is available for 3, 4, 8 or 15 days.
This pass also covers scenic routes and local trams and buses in 75 towns and cities and offers 50% reduction on most mountain railways and cable cars. The Swiss Travel Pass also includes the Swiss Museum Pass, allowing you free entrance to 500 museums and exhibitions.
Lausanne Transport Card
When you stay in a hotel in Lausanne, you have the right, free of charge, to the Lausanne Transport Card which gives you free access to all public transport in Lausanne: metro, bus and train to Cully and various advantages at partners in the destination.
Main image credit: R.Babakin/Bigstock.com