“It’ll take approximately 1.5 hour, Miss”, said the friendly driver once I was comfortably seated in the shiny, dark blue Mercedes S-Class. I smiled, letting the joy of anticipation fill my mind. I was on my way from Geneva to the much-talked-about Hotel des Horlogers nestling in the picturesque Vallée de Joux – a picture perfect valley located in Les Brassus in Switzerland’s Jura mountains. Opening its doors in 2022, I only knew that the hotel was home to a new kind of luxury; one that embraces nature, time and simplicity.
A continuous path through nature
It’s ironic that I’ll begin this article by quoting Angelo Bonati, the man behind the famous Italian-Swiss watch brand, Panerai. Why? Because the hotel I’m going to write about here is owned by fellow Swiss watch manufacturer, Audemars Piguet. Nevertheless, they both seem to understand the true meaning of luxury, so here goes;
Luxury is attention to detail, originality, exclusivity and above all, quality.Angelo Bonati
At first glance, Hotel des Horlogers doesn’t resemble a typical luxury hotel. Constructed mainly in wood and glass, the building fits perfectly into its natural surroundings over-looking the Risoud forest. Many hotels talk about being sustainable and eco-friendly, but here, they truly walk their talk. Being genuinely passionate about sustainability, Hotel des Horlogers is a lighthouse of eco-responsible tourism, letting its green consciousness transmit to its guests and everyone who comes here. And you feel it already when entering the spacious, light-flooded lounge and reception area. Here, large pieces of drift wood hang from the ceiling to minimise the difference between the outdoors and indoors.
Created by Bjarke Ingels Group and interior agency, AUM, the hotel resembles a series of mountain ridges creating a continuous path through nature. The interior is an ode to quality and comfort, with an emphasis on locally-sourced materials (wood and stone). I was mesmerised by the 30.000 m2 of sleek, minimalism throughout my stay, and funnily enough, it had a soothing effect as well.
The location of the hotel is no coincidence, of course. Vallée de Joux was the epicenter of watchmaking in the last half of the 19th century. Back then, a hotel called Hotel de France was located on the exact same address. In 2003, Audemars Piguet took over and named the place Hotel des Horlorgers. In 2016, a radical transformation began in order to construct the most eco-friendly hotel possible. Six years later, that mission was accomplished.
Based on values such as authenticity, harmony and liberation, Hotel des Horlogers is a humble kind of luxury; one that doesn’t only look good but feels good to the body, mind and soul. Their subtle kind of opulence sits with you long after you leave the premises, and the clientele here seem to match their values perfectly. They come here to indulge in nature, to reflect and simply be. Simplicity, complete absence of noise. I’m convinced that this is what modern luxury is all about.
Gastronomy is another cornerstone of Hotel des Horlogers. Supervised by the renowned chef Emmanuel Renaut and lead by Executive Chef, Alessandro Cannata, Brasserie Le Gogant sits in the heart of the hotel over-looking the Risoud forest, from where many of the ingredients hail from. The contemporary interior design and earthy colours set the tone for a relaxing experience with one thing in absolute focus; your senses. The kitchen conjures up little symphonies on rustic plates; fish from local fishers, meat from the valley, fruit and vegetables from the market, and your tastebuds start to sing. If that’s not enough, you can turn it up a notch by dining at La Table des Horlogers; an exclusive gastronomic adventure in laidback settings managed by the chef who received his third Michelin star in 2012.
Of course, no five star hotel experience is complete without a spa, at least not if you ask me. So I was pleased to experience Le Spa by Alpeor during my stay at Hotel des Horlogers. Inspired by the healing benefits and marvellous nature of the Alps, Swiss Alpeor offers high end products to make you completely forget about the outside world. The spa is only accessible by reservation.
Storytelling is such a vital ingredient for a hotel. At Hotel des Horlogers, they understood the task of creating a compelling and coherent narrative; one that pays hommage to the surrounding environment in such a way that you simply can’t help falling in love. Although minimalism usually isn’t my force when it comes to designed spaces (it can feel cold and inhospitable if carried out incorrectly), it works here because the story is in place. From the moment you pull up the driveway and enter the lobby to the moment you pack your bags and leave again; Hotel des Horlogers has succeeded in creating a venue suspended in time and space.
For more information, click here.
Read about Audemars Piguet here.
Hotel des Horlogers, Route de France 8, 1348 Le Chenit, Switzerland.