The Geneva Whis­per

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Mar­cus Brewster Im­ages © Red Car­na­tion Ho­tel Col­lec­tion

If I talk about dis­cre­tion, wealth, and old money in re­la­tion to Ho­tel d’An­gleterre, it is be­cause the prop­erty dis­tin­guishes it­self in its un­der­played pre­sen­ta­tion com­pared to the other ho­tels along the lakeshore.

Dis­cre­tion. I never un­der­stood the con­nec­tion of the term with the re­fine­ment of wealth un­til I had been to Switzer­land. Swiss banker is a term where the ge­o­graph­i­cal ad­jec­tive con­veys much more than the coun­try of ori­gin, it im­plies some­thing about low voices and high fi­nance.

On the man­i­cured shores of Lake Geneva, we stayed at the Ho­tel d’an­gleterre. Dat­ing from 1872 and ac­knowl­edged as one of the heritage sites of the city, the prop­erty show­cases the dec­o­ra­tive touch of the cel­e­brated ar­chi­tect An­thony Krafft. The five sto­ried façade of the d’an­gleterre, ex­tended in 1910, has all the cir­cum­stance if not the pomp of a 19th cen­tury may­oral ho­tel de ville with wrought iron bal­cony de­tail­ing and mansard roof. In other words, the build­ing looks like old Europe on the out­side. On the in­side and within its fabric-lined cor­ri­dors, the only sound you are likely to hear is the whis­per of old money.

Rich looks dif­fer­ent: it looks like Dubai. Rich is new money and the coin is still shiny.

If I talk about dis­cre­tion, wealth, and old money in re­la­tion to Ho­tel d’an­gleterre, it is be­cause the prop­erty dis­tin­guishes it­self in its un­der­played pre­sen­ta­tion com­pared to the other ho­tels along the lakeshore. If you are a Rus­sian oli­garch or an oil sheikh you might pre­fer one of those other five-star ho­tels with their glit­ter­ing chrome en­trances spilling white-light onto the pave­ments. But at the d’an­gleterre, a de­ci­sion was qui­etly made by Krafft to move the en­trance from the front prom­e­nade on the Quai de Mont Blanc to a taste­ful side-street. That un­der­state­ment, the whis­per rather than the shout, is what makes the d’an­gleterre both re­mark­able and rec­om­mend­able.

Mov­ing the en­trance to the Rue de Mon­thoux has meant that what would have been the lobby is now the beau­ti­ful Win­dows Res­tau­rant overlooking the lake and its iconic Jet d’eau, the 127-year-old foun­tain that is the most fa­mous land­mark of the city. With an in­te­rior as plush as vel­vet and as charm­ing as a dust­ing of rose petals, the res­tau­rant cre­ates an am­bi­ence of gra­cious­ness that its fine din­ing menu more than lives up to.

Up­stairs, the 39 lux­ury rooms and six el­e­gant suites re­flect a more 21st cen­tury pal­ette with art-lined in­te­ri­ors that up­date the tra­di­tional mys­tery of the ho­tel with con­tem­po­rary flair and design acu­ity.

Down­stairs and also ac­cessed from Rue de Mon­thoux is the cel­e­brated Leop­ard

Room Bar and Lounge. A clever twist on an old school study and a sa­fari lodge, the Leop­ard Bar of­fers a large se­lec­tion of premium al­co­hols and a se­lec­tion of wines, beers, and cock­tails in its an­i­mal mo­tifed in­te­rior. Well-trav­elled South African vis­i­tors who pon­der the cu­ri­ous co­in­ci­dence of the Leop­ard Bar at the Twelve Apos­tles Ho­tel and Spa, Cape Town, will be de­lighted to know that both prop­er­ties are part of the pri­vate­ly­owned and fam­ily-run Red Car­na­tion Ho­tel Col­lec­tion.

Geneva at­tracts as many diplo­mats and watch-col­lec­tors as its fi­nanciers.

Af­ter hav­ing hosted the League of Na­tions from 1919 to 1945, the city now houses a num­ber of im­por­tant United Na­tions agen­cies such as the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion and the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights. Even the Red Cross or­gan­i­sa­tion planted its flag here in 1863. (The foun­da­tion of in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law, the so­called Geneva Con­ven­tion, was signed a year later).

Still on the his­tory track, in 1868, Patek Philippe cre­ated the first Swiss wrist­watch for women. Pre­vi­ously, ladies wore their watches at their waist or as a pen­dant. This and other mile­stones from the an­nals of time-keep­ing are to be found at the Patek Philippe Mu­seum, one of more than a dozen su­perbly pre­sented mu­se­ums and gal­leries that keep the in­tel­lec­tual tone of the lake­side as brac­ing as the moun­tain air.

Af­ter a prom­e­nade around the South­ern shore of the lake, past the Flower Clock and the English Gar­den to ad­mire the 500 litres per se­cond, 140 m high ef­fu­sion of the Jet d’eau, we re­tired back to Ho­tel d’an­gleterre. There, over Sun­day af­ter­noon tea, I came across a ref­er­ence to re­cently earned hos­pi­tal­ity ac­co­lades. In 2016 the d’an­gleterre was awarded “Best of the Best” in the Read­ers’ Choice Awards and was voted num­ber one in the Top 15 Ho­tels in Switzer­land by Condé Nast Trav­eler Read­ers’ Choice Awards 2017. Worth the ac­claim? Def­i­nitely – but you would never hear the d’an­gleterre boast about it – they are way too dis­creet for that.

For more information, please visit www.dan­gleter­re­ho­tel.com.

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