Perched 500 metres above Lake Lucerne in the heartland of Switzerland sits the remarkable Bürgenstock Resort. Following a nine year-long revamp and a $564 million investment from its Qatari owners, the resort opened its doors exactly a year ago today to widespread acclaim. So what exactly is it about this luxury destination, with its panoramic Alpine and lake views, four state-of-the-art hotels, numerous restaurants and impressive spa that has got hotel reviewers and luxury travel sites all excited? Well, let’s just say that after a four day stay there this summer, I can fully understand why it’s rapidly becoming known as one of the most notable and coveted hotels in the world.
I’m delighted to be able to give you an exclusive sneak peek inside, and a few reasons why I believe that Bürgenstock Resort is destined to be a luxury hotel that we will be talking about for a very long time to come.
The resort was first opened in 1873. In its heyday, it saw big names such as Audrey Hepburn (who got married there) and Sophia Loren (who lived in one of the resort’s residences for several years) grace its corridors. Over time, the Grand Hotel was not able to keep up with rising demand during the high season, and a second and then a third hotel were opened.
The hotels continued to do business until a sovereign wealth fund from Qatar, later named as Katara Hospitality, acquired the resort in 2007. It closed its doors to the public for refurbishment in 2008 and eventually held its highly anticipated re-opening on 28th August 2017, which launched a brand new take on the resort comprising 4 hotels, 10 restaurants, 67 residential apartments, a golf course, 10,000 sq metre spa and 800 staff.
The approach to the resort must be one of the most alluring approaches to a hotel anywhere in the world (yes, maybe even more so than this one!). Guests can choose to arrive by free boat transfer across the Lake from Lucerne, and then take the hotel’s Furnicular up the steep cowbelled meadows, through forest and scrub, right into the underbelly of the Bürgenstock Hotel, or to take the scenic drive up steep winding roads to the hotel’s front gates high up on the Bürgenberg.
Looking out in one direction, you’ll find breathtaking panoramic views of Lake Lucerne far below you. Looking out over the other, you can take in the rolling valleys and idyllic, traditionally Swiss farmland that typifies this side of the Alps.
The grounds are expansive, with the structures and architecture blending seamlessly into the landscape and excellent use of walkways and vantage points to take full advantage the views.
There is much to explore within walking distance…
Such as the 153 metre high Hammetschwand Lift, built in 1905 which takes visitors right to the top of the Hammetschwand for lofty views of Lake Lucerne…
The mountains and meadows around the resort…
And the short funicular and boat ride to the pretty city of Lucerne, which guests of the hotel can use as many times as they desire.
Four luxury hotels occupy the resort, each with its own distinctive character and style.
The most exclusive of the four, the Bürgenstock Hotel, boasts spectacular views over Lake Lucerne, a timeless elegance to its interiors and direct access to the iconic Alpine Spa (and THAT infinity pool!).
The Palace Hotel is a slightly cheaper option and the resort’s only historic hotel which remains open, albiet with a new design and flare to bring it in line with the character of the rest of the resort.
Taverne 1879 offers twelve cosy rooms in a traditionally Swiss setting, combining rustic decor with Alpine charm.
And finally, the hotel that we stayed in, which is personally my favourite of the four: The Waldhotel, which has been cleverly conceived by renowned architect Mattheo Thun to focus on nature, with architecture that reflects its natural surroundings, and clever features that welcome the landscape in.
The building, which is the largest gabion building in the world is made from local stones and wood, with a pleasing modern design aesthetic which doesn’t look out of place on the mountainside.
Wherever you go, there is clever use of glass, and little balconies and outdoor terraces which bring the outside in and make you feel as though you are constantly walking amongst nature.
The rooms themselves are comfortable and bright, with everything you require to make your stay comfortable.
The design features are tasteful with great attention to detail, including artwork depicting natural motifs and little touches that add interest to the aesthetics of the room.
Large glass doors open out onto a private decked balcony, which in turn opens out further onto a green roof which guests can step out onto to enjoy the full panorama before them.
The shared spaces within the hotel are cleverly done, providing a mixture of cosy nooks private introspection and fun spaces for socialising and games.
The hotel’s ethos is ‘healthy by nature’, and everything about it, including its own spa which is inspired by natural products and centuries-old therapies, consistently hits the mark.
If you’re a foodie like me, then this resort is a veritable grotto. There are 10 restaurants to choose from, serving up everything from traditional cheese fondue to sushi, but after a day of exploring our options, we were set on our favourites.
Verbena is a bright and cheerful modern restaurant and terrace, with a great kid’s menu and warm staff, set within the Waldhotel. The cuisine is varied and the menu depends on the time of day that you arrive, but I recommend heading there for breakfast for their incredible handmade bread, still warm from the bread oven…
Or the early evening, for an Apperetif on the terrace and some delicious modern European dishes.
Spices Kitchen & Terrace in the Bürgenstock Hotel is arguably the best restaurant on the resort. A less child-friendly option, so I’d recommend taking advantage of the hotel’s babysitting service like we did and heading there for a date night to enjoy the romantic views and Far-Eastern specialties with a twist, prepared amidst cheerful babble in the restaurant’s busy open kitchen.
And we come to the pièce de résistance; the whole reason why Bürgenstock first came to our attention when we were initially planning this trip six months ago. The Alpine Spa.
Now let’s get the negatives out the way first shall we? I LOVED the spa, so much so that I wish that everyone staying at the hotel could experience it in all its glory. However, there is sadly an air of exclusivity around it which means that only those guests that are staying in the Bürgenstock Hotel can enjoy it, unless visitors purchase a rather hefty 3hr pass or full day spa package. We were extremely lucky, as we booked the Waldhotel while they were still allowing their guests full access to the spa as part of their room rate. I don’t know what the plans for spa access will be in the future, but it’s worth enquiring ahead to ensure that you’re not booking a room in one of the hotels which doesn’t include it.
Because you’re going to want to see this.
There’s not much that this incredible 10,000 sq metre space doesn’t have on offer: steam baths, panorama and aroma saunas, Kneipp baths and a variety of showers and jacuzzis guarantee guest’s ultimate rest and rejuvenation. There’s also a spa garden, a room of silence and a beautiful outdoor pool.
But it’s this pool that everyone is more interested in…
Or rather, the trap door at the end of it which leads to this 35°C infinity pool, where the boundaries between water, sky and lake seem to merge together to create the most spectacular of views.
Do you recognise it from my list of the world’s best romantic pools with a view?!
We could have soaked in those waters until we shrivelled into prunes, but
sadly luckily, spa access is only open to under twelves until midday and after 5pm.
Now, as I wrap up my own thoughts on this wonderful resort, let’s finish with what a handful of the world’s top experts in the luxury travel business have been saying about it shall we?
Bürgenstock Resort: Critical Acclaim and Awards
Condé Nast Traveler named Bürgenstock Resort one of the ‘World’s Best New Hotels’ in their 2018 hot list; the only hotel that made the list in Switzerland.
Travel + Leisure listed Bürgenstock Resort as one of their best hotels in the world in their very exclusive ‘It List’.
National Geographic Traveller awarded Bürgenstock Resort the top ‘Comeback Kid’ in its ‘Big Sleep Awards 2018’.
The New York Times mentioned Bürgenstock Resort in the article ’52 Places to Go in 2018′.
The World Travel Awards awarded Bürgenstock Resort the title of ‘Europe’s Leading New Hotel 2018’.
…and many, many more!
I think it will be a while before we stay in another hotel quite like this one.
For more information and to book a room, head here.
What are your thoughts on Bürgenstock Resort as one of the newest and most exclusive luxury hotels on the block? Do you think the hype is justified?
Please read my disclaimer here.