Hotels in Switzerland

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Hotel d'Angleterre

by Sarah Shuckburgh

Geneva boasts more than a dozen five-star hotels, but the Hotel d'Angleterre is one of the most intimate, with six suites and 39 rooms, each decorated in a different style and colour scheme. The tail-coated staff combine friendliness, discretion and efficiency, and the hotel is luxurious without being ostentatious. The hotel occupies a prime position on the Quai du Mont Blanc - the sophisticated "right bank" - 15 minutes' drive from the airport, and a five minute walk from the station. St Peter's Cathedral and the cobbled squares of the old town are just across the Rhone, on the more bohemian "rive gauche".

The Hotel d'Angleterre was built in 1872 - in an era when Englishmen and women were pioneers of Alpine travel - and in its heyday the hotel was favoured by royalty and celebrities. Gradually it fell into disrepair, until in 1995 the building was rescued from dereliction by the Geneva Committee of Monuments. Now restored to its former glory, the English theme lives on in the colonial and country house decor of the bedrooms, and in the afternoon teas - complete with scones, finger sandwiches and fancy cakes.

The Swiss are famous for going to bed early, but the chic Leopard Bar stays open until the daringly late hour of 2am. The low lights, comfortable sofas and leather-bound books produce a romantic ambience, and the live music is quiet enough to allow small talk. Paintings of leopards hang from fabric-covered walls, and the carpet features leopardskin spots, a trademark design of South African owner, Beatrice Tollman, whose elegant style permeates the whole hotel.

The Windows Restaurant - aptly named, with huge windows looking over the lake - is an airy dining room with large tables, cushioned chairs and soft lighting. The chef, Philippe Audonnet, serves wonderful food. If you tire of cosmopolitan cuisine, order local delicacies such as Lake Geneva perch, washed down with wine from vineyards on the south-facing shores of the lake. The triple-decker sweet trolley is impossible to resist.

Deluxe rooms and some of the suites have spectacular views over Lake Geneva, with its astonishing 140-meter "jet d'eau"- the world's tallest fountain, and in the distance, the snow-capped Mont Blanc. All windows are triple-glazed, to ensure warmth in winter, and peace and quiet throughout the year. At the touch of a bedside button, venetian blinds descend to ensure complete blackout. Relax in a bubble bath, in the gentle glow of a fragrant candle, and then slide between smooth, crisp sheets and feather duvets. Staff discreetly note your preferences and on your next visit provide your favourite pillows, magazines, fruit and other desires, without being prompted.

Despite its elegance, the hotel is equipped with modern technology. Every room has a computer socket and two telephone lines. Ten bedrooms can be made "business-ready", with a spacious desk, enhanced lighting, office stationery, voicemail and an all-in-one fax/printer/scanner. There are also two inter-connecting conference rooms, with parquet floors and versatile furnishings.

First published by Travel Intelligence Ltd

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