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