A luxury guide to Zürich: The best hotels, apartments, restaurants & places to visit
When planning your next European city getaway, Zürich might not be the first place that springs to mind. Synonymous with banking and finance, it’s also one of the business capitals of the world – yet its reputation for being the cleanest and most efficient destination in Europe makes it an intriguing place to explore.
Set against a stunning backdrop of the picturesque Alps, you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied in beautiful Zürich, which sits neatly on the bank of the Limmat River and has seen a huge explosion in arts and popular culture in recent years. Some of the sights worth seeing include a smattering of medieval churches, including the imposing Grossmunster – as well as the renowned and expansive Kunthaus art gallery, which is one of the best in the world. The medieval Old Town – characterised by the quaint cobbled alleys of the Niedderdorf district – is an enjoyable place to take a stroll during your visit, and the endless riverside cafes make for the perfect spot from which to relax with a coffee and take in the magnificent views.
Flanked by soaring, snow-covered peaks and a vast and glittering lake, Zürich is the best of both worlds when it comes to city and countryside escapes, and is packed to the rafters with world-class restaurants, making it a foodie’s dream. Not only that, but there are a plethora of high-end spas, renowned art galleries and great designer shops to choose from, too – meaning you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to filling your days.
Sold? Then read on to find out where to stay, what to eat and what to do to make the most of a long weekend in Zürich.
Where to Stay
There is certainly no shortage of great hotels in Zurich, and in fact, the range of choice can often be overwhelming. Here are our favourites for a luxurious and relaxing stay.
Widder: A maze of 9 townhouses dating back to 1490, five-star Widder is located just five minutes from the train station, nestled on Rennweg in the heart of Zurich’s Augustiner quarter. With the financial district just around the corner and the old sights of town – including the Grossmünster and Lindenhof panoramic park – on your doorstep, it’s a convenient base from which to explore the city, and with a selection of high-street shops, classy boutiques and a cute little café, Honolds, nearby, you’ve got everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable stay. If money is no object, then opt for the stunning Penthouse suite terrace, boasting 360-degree views over the rooftops.
Baur au Lac: Set within its own landscaped park, Baur au Lac offers warm, welcoming interiors and an opulent place to stay in the city. Located conveniently between the financial district, with the elegant, designer shops of the Bahnhofstrasse on one side, and Lake Zurich, with the snow-capped Alps beyond, on the other, it’s also just 20 minutes from the airport, and is one of the oldest hotels in the city, having been established in 1844.
Serviced apartments in Zurich are a great option for those preferring a little more privacy, and VISIONAPARTMENTS doesn’t disappoint. With over 600 fully-equipped and furnished apartments in 14 different premium locations in the city, the diverse and varied accommodation available ranges from studios, to duplex apartments, right up to villas.
Where to Eat
Restaurant Spice: Restaurant Spice was taken over by the Women’s Association of Alcohol-Free Ins back in 1914, and has continued to go from strength to strength ever since. Now a trendy one Michelin star restaurant, it also boasts an impressive 15 Gault Millau points – along with a fresh and sustainable menu inspired by cuisine from around the world. Dine on the terrace during the summer months for an enjoyable al-fresco experience.
The Restaurant at the Dolder Grand: If one Michelin star just isn’t enough for you, then head to this two Michelin-star eatery for a modern and creative fine dining menu, courtesy of German chef, Heiko Nieder. With a delectable five-course lunch and eight course dinner to choose from, be prepared for a culinary journey for the senses, all served up on a stunning outdoor terrace with panoramic views across the city and the expansive Swiss Alps. If, of course, the weather happens to be on your side.
Kronenhalle: Established in 1924, the legendary Kronenhalle is a must when dining out in the city – and not just because of its food. Starting life as a meeting place for artists, actors and writers, this upmarket eatery was once frequented by the likes of Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti – and continues to attract a high calibre of guest until today.
Its wooden-panelled walls are adorned with artwork from Chagall, Picasso and Miró, making for the perfect backdrop as you indulge in French-inspired cusine and classic dishes such as ‘Zürcher Geschnetzeltes’.
What to Do
Explore the Art Museums: Home to over 50 museums and 100 art galleries, Zurich is known as Switzerland’s cultural centre, and the place to watch for cutting-edge contemporary art.
Gallerie Eva Presenhuber can be found in an industrial warehouse built in the early 1900s, and is a forward-thinking art venue located in the former Maag Areal, in Zurich’s new urban development zone. Mixed-media artist Valentin Carron, who represented Switzerland at the Venice Biennale in 2013, has been a particular draw, and has remained at the gallery since his first show in 2005. Other artists featured include New York-based conceptual artist Trisha Donnelly and Swiss-born Ugo Rondinone, whose mixed-media installations push the boundaries of scale and space.
For those looking for something a little more traditional, try the Kunsthaus – where fans of Alberto Giacometti will find a whole series of rooms dedicated to the Swiss artist and sculptor. And, with a variety of works from the likes of Van Gogh, Monet and Chagall all being exhibited, it’s well worth a visit. Head down on a Wednesday for free entry.
Take a Boat Trip: From aboard one of the flat boats of the Limmatschifffahrt, you’ll get an alternative view of the city, from the bottom up. Built to pass below the seven bridges over the Limmat, the boats begin a one-hour round trip from Landesmuseum. If you fancy a dinner cruise on the lake, then hop onto one of the Dreamboats of ZSG, departing from Bürkliplatz – where you can choose from fondue trips, barbecues and even ‘Cruises for Vegetarians’.
Meander down the Niederdorf: Often referred to as the ‘Dörfli’ by locals, the old town goes from Central to Bellevue, and is made up of Niederdorf and Oberdorf. The throng of tourists in the area don’t detract from the charm of the old buildings and narrow streets, and with an abundance of quirky shops, cosy bars and stereotypical fondue restaurants, you’ll be kept just as well fed as you will entertained.
Try Cabaret Voltaire or Café duDA, or – for the most impressive views of the city – climb up one of the towers of Grossmünster.