The Geneva Whisper
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.