Hotel Review: The Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois, Basel in Switzerland
For the hotel that is named for royalty (les trois rois= the three kings) – and has hosted some too – the five star Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel is the epitome of luxury. With palatial interiors, a restaurant that is placed in the top 100 in the world, a location on the banks of the Rhine and spectacular rooftop views of the landscapes of France, Germany and Switzerland, this place is in a league of its own.
Established in 1681 as a gentlemen’s inn, rebuilt in 1844 as a grand hotel, and following major renovations between 2004 and 2006, the hotel is now styled in a timeless fashion to offer its guests a feel of what it was during the times that the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte visited. He isn’t the only famous name to have walked within these walls, other rather inspiring guests include Queen Elizabeth II, Pablo Picasso, Hans Christian Andersen and the king of tennis himself, Roger Federer.
During the overhaul, the hotel was made to appear and feel as authentic as possible and this can be spotted wherever you are, from the wooden pillars in the hallway, which are hand-painted with a marble effect (at one time wood held more value than marble), to the former chapel still offering a quiet place to reflect and relax, now as a library. The grandeur of the hotel is reflected throughout with lots of dark wood, chandeliers and ornate features within the public areas and 101 rooms and suites alike.
The large, wood panelled and multi-award winning bar is the place to visit for a cracking cocktail or afternoon tea upon a leather sofa overlooking the river and you can take your delights outside onto the terrace. If a cigar is what keeps you ticking over, head to the sumptuous Salon du Cigare on the lower ground floor where you will find 155 to choose from and a selection of drinks to enjoy it with in a gold ceilinged bar. Also on this floor is the fully decked out fitness room and wine cellar.
One thing I noticed around the hotel and in my suite were the plentiful and charming floral displays – the in-house florists at Fleurs des Rois can arrange and deliver a wide range of displays as gifts for a special occasion, wedding at the hotel or an event in one of the seven meeting rooms.
After a very warm welcome and tour of the hotel including the pretty amazing art deco Suite Les Trois Rois, with 250msq of living space and its own private rooftop hot tub and sauna taking in those aforementioned far reaching views of the landscapes of Switzerland, France and Germany, I was shown to my home for the night.
Stepping into my suite felt like stepping back in time and I thought this was the closest I would come to staying in a palace. Overlooking the river and bridge, and with a balcony holding a table and chairs to enjoy the summer heat and Basel views, the 70 square metres of space was pretty special. The Basel tradition of locals taking an annual dip in the Rhine was taking place and I loved hearing the joyous sounds below.
The suite was like no other that I have had the opportunity to stay in – original wood floors held gold painted and antique wooden furniture while cream silk paper rested on the walls and displayed original artworks. The high ceilings and decorative nature of the rooms made me feel I had been transported back in time (if it weren’t for the large TV’s, minibar and other very welcome modern aspects) and I could never tire of the beautiful riverside view.
There was a double-aspect lounge with doors to the balcony, a desk and sitting area consisting of red and gold decorative seating among dark wood furniture, a large red patterned rug and thick curtains surrounded the large windows. Fresh flowers were displayed, a fruit bowl and little cakes were left for me and complimentary items were also available in the minibar. A large bedroom with spacious bed, dark carpet and more Rhine views opened on to a dressing room with thick wood doors, which held plenty of space for clothes as well as the minibar and safe. A control panel for the electronic blinds also came in handy and there a few dotted around, including in the hallway, which led to the luxurious black marble bathroom.
The suite was classically decorated with no expense spared – I truly felt like royalty, especially after waking from a glorious night’s sleep.
The most exciting part of dining at the hotel is the three Michelin awarded, Cheval Blanc. Headed up by Peter Knogl, the restaurant serves up exquisite French with Mediterranean and Asian inspired foods in a wonderful setting. I sampled the tasting menu here at lunchtime on the terrace, it was idyllic and is now one of my happiest memories – read my thoughts on lunch here.
In addition to this there is Brasserie Les Trois Rois, an eatery promising ingredients fresh from the market turned into French and Swiss specialities. I enjoyed breakfast here, which offered luxurious twists on the classics with a la carte options including omelette with black truffle and scrambled eggs with caviar. Even the fresh fruit buffet included the more exotic delights such as figs, kiwis, plums in syrup, sliced watermelon and passion fruit. There were also some salad items cold meats including roast beef and smoked salmon and some breads and pastries too. I opted for a simple boiled eggs with soldiers and for the chocolate lover in me, a pain au chocolat.
Restaurant Chez Donati is part of the hotel but is based a five minute walk away. This Italian eatery embodies the essence of Italian cooking and has been serving up this cuisine for over 60 years. If you feel the need to leave the beauty of this hotel and venture into Basel but be assured that the standards are met, this is well worth a visit.
Basel is known as the gateway to Switzerland, a city bordering three countries that is often viewed as a place to travel through rather than a destination to stop at. I spent three days here and would certainly have to disagree with the former. Although I took a day trip to Lake Lucerne (an hour away on the train and a glorious place) I also spent some quality time in the city exploring the streets, photographing the beautiful medieval buildings, wandering along the water’s edge and visiting the many eateries. With the highest concentration of museums in the country, a gothic cathedral and buzzing Marktplatz, Switzerland’s third largest populous city is certainly a place to stop at and I can’t think of a more luxurious place to reside after spending my days exploring than Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois.
IN A NUTSHELL
This hotel is full of character, depth and warmth and a visit offers something quite special. Everyone I met showed me kindness and I loved every minute of my stay. If it’s good enough for me (and the Queen of England) and you need a touch of the royal treatment then look no further than the delightful Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois.
Address: Blumenrain 8, 4001 Basel, Switzerland
Phone: +41 61 260 50 50