Lake House

A lovely sum­mer in Down­town Switzer­land

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Contents -

It was our last stop on a “lake trip” at the start of this sum­mer, which took us from Lake Con­stance to Lake Como, right through the Mediter­ranean coast­line and to Lake Zurich— each water­front em­a­nat­ing its own kind of sparkle and scenog­ra­phy. In the charm­ing “Down­town Switzer­land”, a re­laxed hol­i­day crowd took in the sun-swept glim­mer of the lake from the Zurich Opera House, or by the prom­e­nade be­fore an evening at the world-fa­mous Cir­cus Knie. At night, teenagers il­lu­mi­nated the dark wa­ters with their iPhone “beat­boxes”, Drake on high. Our splen­did view of the lake that opens to a glo­ri­ous panorama of the Alps was from the rooftop ter­race of Baur au Lac, the his­toric ho­tel that since 1844 has wel­comed Napoleon III to African kings, Al­fred Hitch­cock to Al­fred No­bel, Au­drey Hep­burn and Don­ald Duck (who dined in comic with his ty­coon un­cle Dagob­ert Duck at the grand ho­tel), Joan Miró to Henry Moore. Leg­end has it that Marc Cha­gall ru­ined the car­pets of the prop­erty where he prac­tised paint­ing the fa­mous stained glass win­dows for the Fraumün­ster Church back in the 1960s.

The van­tage point is not only in its breath­tak­ing view. Si­t­u­ated in its own pri­vate park, and framed by the ro­man­tic Schanzen­graben canal on one side and the high-lux­ury shop­ping street Bahn­hof­s­trasse on the other, makes this es­tab­lish­ment the pre­mier ad­dress, en­hanced by its ex­quis­ite Art Deco-meets-Re­gency am­bi­ence, beau­ti­ful al­fresco din­ing, and daz­zling fresh flo­ral bou­quets. Our sump­tu­ous suite de­signed by Frédéric d’Ha­u­fayt spanned across two doors, mak­ing a whole stretch of lux­u­ri­ous­ness from large mar­ble bath­room to dress­ing area to lav­ish bed­room with views of the bright blue Swiss sky, into an art-filled liv­ing room, where home­made 1844 Cho­co­lat Baur au Lac and other sweet del­i­ca­cies awaited ev­ery evening.

Founded by Jo­hannes Baur as a large villa by the lake, the her­itage ho­tel is still fam­ily-owned and man­aged by his sixth-

gen­er­a­tion de­scen­dant An­drea Kracht, who has kept Baur au Lac’s magic of a grand lux­ury ho­tel with that home-away feel­ing. Kracht is also the chair­man of The Lead­ing Ho­tels Of The World, and his charis­matic Filipino wife Gigi, an art lover, cu­rates the con­tem­po­rary art­works through­out the ho­tel and its 119 rooms. “Art must vie with na­ture, which dis­plays, even lav­ishes, all of its charms here,” wrote the Leipzig Il­lus­trated News­pa­per in 1855 on Baur au Lac, head­lined ‘Zurich is made more beau­ti­ful’. And cer­tainly it has re­mained as such, all 174 years. Ev­ery sum­mer since 2002, the ho­tel or­gan­ises Art in the Park, where sculp­tures by big-name artists such as Robert In­di­ana, Fer­nando Botero, Louise Bour­geois, and George Condo adorn the prop­erty grounds to el­e­vate the guest ex­pe­ri­ence, and also as a pre­lude to Art Basel.

Alas, we stayed the week­end of the set-up, but still toured the park with Lau­rent Eperon, chef de cui­sine of the ho­tel’s Miche­lin-star Restau­rant Pav­il­lon, walk­ing through the gingko and cedar trees, and in­hal­ing the nat­u­ral fra­grances from his prized herb gar­den. We stopped by a minia­ture Baur au Lac, an in-house bee­hive that pro­duces creamy Miel du Jardin spe­cially bot­tled for guests. We en­joyed pots for break­fast, scoop­ing the rich honey onto our crepes, stir­ring it into Earl Grey tea, and savour­ing spoon­fuls for good mea­sure. Din­ner at Pav­il­lon is an­other kind of ex­pe­ri­ence, with Chef Eperon serv­ing up Swiss-clas­sics-with-a-twist, and unique cre­ations in­spired by the sea­son, his trav­els to Asia, and his child­hood mem­o­ries—matched with Swiss wines and his lovely sense of joie de vivre. Could our stay be more per­fect? As they say, life is al­ways bet­ter at the lake. Tal­strasse 1, Zürich, Switzer­land. Tel: +41 44 220 50 20. www.bau­

Al­fresco din­ing the Baur au Lac way at Rive Gauche Ter­rasse

Walk­ing Fig­ure, 2008, Don­ald Baech­ler

Le Hall, the heart of Baur au Lac

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