When speaking of true luxury in the world of hospitality, it’s impossible not to come across Beau Rivage in Geneva (Switzerland). For almost 150 years, this splendid hotel has intrigued people from all over the globe with its old-fashioned charm and elegance – something it’s still world-famous for today! Continue reading if you want to have a peek behind the scenes of one of the last remaining luxury hotels from the 19th Century.
The assassination of Sissi
History repeats itself at Beau Rivage. What was custom in 1865 is still custom today, with some minor adjustments of course. And I really understand the concept – cause why fix something that isn’t broken? Upon my arrival to the hotel the sun was shining from a clear, blue sky and Geneva was slowly adjusting to the forthcoming season. Crowds of buzzing tourists and business people were mixing up in the streets, but as soon as I stepped inside the hotel it was as if time had stopped for a brief moment. I had simply gone back in time.
Ever since the very beginning Beau Rivage has been a popular meeting and resting place amongst Europe’s nobles and royals. One person in particular still plays a very important role to the hotel. So much that a suite is even named after her and several of her belongings exhibited in displays around the hotel. I’m referring to Empress Elisabeth of Austria, also known as ‘Sissi’. In 1898 she was staying incognito at the Beau Rivage and during an afternoon stroll at the lake promenade she was assassinated by an Italian anarchist by the name of Luigi Lucheni. From all rooms one can see exactly where it happened. This spooky story still circulates today and I believe it’s part of the fascinating mystery of Beau Rivage.
5 generations of luxury
Today, the hotel is run by the 5th generation of the Mayer family, and that’s a rarity in itself.
All five generations have been true to the original spirit of Beau Rivage and modern adjustments are carefully implemented with respect for traditions. That’s clear when you step into the hall and reception area, which has been restored, but not changed since the very beginning. And somehow it’s nice to get a break from reality and modern comforts – it puts things into perspective and tells a story of something that once were.
The hotel houses several types of accommodation ranging from Executive to Prestige rooms with panoramic views of the lake, Mont-Blanc and the old town. But the true luxury and breath-taking interior lies in the historical suites, for example The Maharaja of Patiala Suite, which is an ode to the former king of Patiala in india. This suite is embellished with antique furnitures, a hamam for relaxation – and of course a selection of fine jewelry and precious stones, which the king was very passionate about. Or what about the Wagner Suite, which is 90 m2 of tribute to the world-famous composer? There’s also the Sissi Suite named after the above-mentioned empress of Austria. Here you can experience how she lived when she was staying at the Beau Rivage, some of her personal belongings are even showcased in here, and it has barely been changed since the 19th Century. The best part of this suite though is the large roof-top terrace with a unique panoramic view to the lake and Jet d’Eau.
A taste of Michelin
Beau Rivage is home to Le Chatte Botte, a Michelin star restaurant facing the Lake Geneva. It’s a blend of French and contemporary cuisine, which goes hand in hand with the extensive wine selection from the hotel’s own wine cellar. Everything from traditional foie gras to lobster, wild salmon from Scotland, glazed duckling filet and roasted rabbit is to be found on the a la carte menu, but it’s also possible to choose a fixed menu with a minimum of 4 courses.
During the afternoon I had the pleasure of trying a ‘business lunch’ on the outside terrace, and I can honestly say that it quickly became one of my favorite lunch places in Geneva! The ‘business lunch’ consists of 3 courses – a starter, a main course and a dessert – and the price is CHF 70,-.
Guests wanting a more personal dining experience can reserve a table at ‘Chef’s Table’, which is literally located in the kitchen! There’s only room for 8 guests at a time and Michelin chef Dominique Gauthier will create a tailor-made menu for the guests, which adds a whole new meaning to the concept of private dinner! It’s definitely on my bucket list!
Pre or after dinner cocktails and aperitifs can be enjoyed in the Atrium Bar – make sure to enjoy a classic cocktail on the terrace during summer time or in front of the fireplace in winter. Cocktail hour begins when the piano starts playing.
Last, but definitely not least, the hotel presents one of the world’s finest Thai cuisine restaurants, Patara. Relish in classic Thai specialities, salads, soups and vegetarian dishes with a high-end twist, but remember to book a table in advance.
Lavish breakfast with a view
One of the things I always look most forward to when staying in a hotel is the breakfast! I rarely go without it, not least because it reveals so much about the standard of a hotel! At Beau Rivage I was pleased to find a lavish buffet containing all my favourites and even more; fresh fruit salad, home baked croissants and bread, jams, scrambled eggs and sausages, salmon, different flavoured yogurts, vegetables, pancakes with maple syrup, a selection of cakes and much more had found its way to the table – and so had the daily newspaper and a selection of hot and cold beverages. A pleasant and very comfortable way to start the day! For the sleepyheads breakfast can also be enjoyed in bed, as room service on Beau Rivage is on 24 hours a day.
Beau Rivage in Geneva is not only a 5 star hotel fulfilling the dreams and needs of luxury seeking travellers – it’s a lifestyle. Where else can you walk straight into the arms of history and feel both comfortable and spoiled? It’s the perfect hotel for couples, lovers and business people seeking a break from the everyday life – and myself? I can’t wait to be back – like thousands of other patrons since 1865.
For more information about Beau Rivage go to www.beau-rivage.ch.