Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
Today (June 5, 2019): Review of The Dolder Grand Hotel (Zürich, Switzerland)
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: The Dolder Grand Hotel
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
The Dolder Grand is a city resort that beautifully merges past and future. Perched above Zürich, the fairy tale-like castle building first served as a “Curhaus” (a health spa) during the late-19th century. Today, it honors this history with a state-of-the-art spa, which is housed in one of the new wings designed by Lord Norman Foster. The spa comprises eighteen treatment rooms, separate areas for ladies and gentlemen, an aqua zone with views of the natural surroundings and a medical wellness center. The spa program focuses on spiritual health as well as pampering treatments. The 175 rooms and suites are scattered throughout the property, and all are timelessly decorated with stylish furnishings. The acclaimed “The Restaurant”, headed by innovative chef Heiko Nieder, has two Michelin stars. Most striking is the hotel’s art collection with more than 100 artworks including pieces by Andy Warhol, Henry Moore and Salvador Dalí.
The Dolder Grand features in my top 10 list of the best hotels in Switzerland.
Have you ever stayed at The Dolder Grand Hotel? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
*** Follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for a daily moment of travel inspiration ***
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The Dolder Grand enjoys a privileged setting, some 2 km (1.2 mi) from and 200 m (660 ft) above the city center of Zürich. Located high on the southern slopes of Adlisberg – a wooded hill to the East of Zürich – the property is standing majestically amidst beautiful natural surroundings and enjoys spectacular views of the city, Lake Zürich and the snow covered mountains of the Alps (on a clear day). Staying here will give you the feeling of being far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, although it’s only 10 minutes to Zürich’s center by the hotel’s complimentary shuttle service and 20 minutes to the airport by taxi.
- The Dolder Grand has been the very epitome of hospitality in Zürich since 1899. The property was built between 1897 and 1899 under the direction of the Basel architect Jacques Gros as a Victorian-era Kurhaus (health spa resort) for people in the city in need of tranquility. In the following decades, the hotel became a meeting point for royalty, politicians and Hollywood celebrities, with illustrious names as Winston Churchill, the Shah of Persia, Henry Kissinger, John Wayne, Sophia Loren, Roger Moore, Prince Charles, Nelson Mandela, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, Luciano Pavarotti, Prince Philip and Mikhail Gorbachev visiting the hotel.
- In 2008 the hotel reopened after an extensive, 440 million euros renovation led by Norman Foster, one of Britain’s most prolific architects and a Pritzker Architecture Prize winner. The restoration maintained the original castle-like Belle Époque mansion from 1899 but all the extensions added after that date were demolished. Two new spectacular wings (housing modern rooms and the spa) were added, sweeping wave-like around the main historic building. The result is a magnificent architectural interplay of old word design and modern elements of steel, stone and tinted glass, tangibly linking past and future.
- There is very little that has not been thought of at The Dolder Grand from the superb state-of-the-art technology to the exquisite decor. The original turreted hilltop château features a neo-classical style inside, with Corinthian capitals, Swarovski crystal chandeliers, ornate ceilings and colorful flower displays radiating exclusivity and elegance in the opulent lobby and it adjoining reception area. A glass sliding door at the back of the lobby gives way to the two modern glass-and-steel wings, whose bold contemporary design and airy spaces mirror the idyllic natural surroundings of the property. Overall, the decor is stylish without being ostentatious.
- So impressive and comprehensive is the private art collection of the hotel’s principal owner, Swiss financier – Urs E Schwarzenbach – that the property has become a real art mecca. Inside, over 100 works of art by prestigious artists including Salvador Dali, Henry Moor and Niki de Saint Phalle grace the premises of this luxury hotel. The most striking piece is arguably Andy Warhol’s “Big Retrospective Painting”, spanning 11 m (36 ft) above the reception desk. Outside, the Dolder grounds are studded with sculptures all over. The property even offers its guests an art iPad to guide them through the artworks on display in the hotel.
- The hotel has 175 spacious rooms & suites. The rooms in the original 1899 building are furnished in a style that echoes the hotel’s Swiss rustic origin, while the rooms in the new wings have a modern look. During my visit, I was upgraded to a phenomenal ‘Junior Suite Grand’ in the modern wing, which came with wrap-around floor-to-ceiling windows and a terrace offering a spectacular view of the historic wing, the city, Zürich Lake, and the Alps. The light-filled bedroom with its dark wood floor featured a kingsize bed (facing a Bang & Olufsen flat-screen TV), a desk, and a sitting area with a white curved sofa. The limestone bathroom was equipped with a windowside bathtub, double vanity, a toilet, and a walk-in shower with side jets.
- While the ordinary rooms and suites are already exceptional, both in style and luxury, it’s the four signature suites that are truly jaw-dropping. The two-storey Maestro Suite – a homage to Herbert von Karajan – is housed in the tower of the historic building, offering a unique living experience with two bedrooms, a living and dining room, library and a sublime lounge terrac. The Top 100 Suite, which is named after London’s 100 Club, features an unconventional interior in black and pink and retro furniture in keeping with the theme. The Carezza Suite’s sculptural shapes were inspired by Giacometti, while the Masina Suite (the hotel’s top suite) features a cinematic theme that pays tribute to legendary actress Giulietta Masina.
- There are city spas and there’s The Spa at Dolder Grand, Zürich’s most prestigious spa facility offering 18 treatment rooms and a wide range of treatments, including facials, body scrubs, wraps and massages. The spa is centered around a communal indoor aqua zone which features a 25 m (82 ft) swimming pool, sanarium, steam bath, and a snow paradise. Next to the pool are separate gender seggregated areas with saunas, steam baths, kotatsu foot baths, aroma pools, steam pots, cold-water basins and sunbeds. Outside, there’s a south-facing terrace equipped with sun loungers, two hot whirlpools, and one cold plunge pool. The spa also features an En Vogue hairdresser and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
- The Dolder Grand features two award-winning restaurants and a lively bar:
- The Restaurant – located next to the lobby – serves innovative gourmet cuisine created by chef Heiko Nieder in a stylish atmosphere. The venue has been awarded 19 GaultMillau points and 2 Michelin stars and is one of the most highly rated restaurants in Zurich.
- Saltz restaurant, located one floor below the lobby, is the property’s more casual, all day dining venue, serving Swiss and international specialities. The restaurant was designed by artist Rolf Sachsto to mimic the Swiss landscape, with a climbing rope spanning the ceiling and a mountain skyline in neon red light on the wall. Breakfast is also served at Saltz and comprises a small but beautifully presented buffet, complemented by a menu.
- Don’t forget to visit the bar after your dinner. Under impressively suspended ceiling lights, the hotel’s bartenders mix classic cocktails and signatured drinks, such as the “Wasa Khaan” or the “Saffron Mojito”. The bar is famous for its monthly jazz evenings, which have become a firm fixture in Zürich’s music calendar.
- Since May 2019, guests at the hotel can pay their bills with Bitcoin, making The Dolder Grand the first Swiss luxury hotel to accept the cryptocurrency as payment. The hotel struck a deal with blockchain technology company Inacta AG to use its Inapay app, which converts Bitcoin into Swiss francs, thereby eliminating any currency risk for the hotel.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The Dolder Grand is one of the best city hotels in the world, offering gorgeous views, an amazing spa, beautifully appointed rooms, and world-class service. There’s is little to say against the hotel, except for the following:
- The Dolder Grand is very expensive – even by Swiss standards – but can one expect anything else with an Andy Warhol painting over the reception desk and a Salvator Dali right at the restaurant entrance? Room rates start at 500 euros per night but keep in mind that this is a stunning propery and the best in Zürich, so IMHO, it is fair that the hotel charges premium rates.
- While the hotel’s two-star Michelin star restaurant is one of the finest restaurants I’ve ever eaten in, I have mixed feelings about the restaurant’s more casual eatery, Saltz. I found the decor to be souless and slightly out-of-place (especially the sterile neon light and bright red wall) and the service to be slow (I had to wait one hour before my main course arrived, although the restaurant staff was apologetic about it). Food at Saltz was great but slightly underwhelming for the price you pay (although this is Switzerland of course, where budgets come to die). In addition, during weekends, Saltz can be very crowded during breakfast hours.
- As mentioned above, the hotel brands itself as a city resort, but it is not located in the city center itself but off the beaten path on a hill overlooking Zürich. However, don’t be putt off by that since the resort is still close the city center: there is an hourly shuttle from the resort to Münsterplatz in the city center, which takes around 10 minutes.
- Standard rooms are The Dolder Grand are rather small considering the cost. I highly recommend to plurge on a suite here, so you can experience the property at its finest.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 9/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 10/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good 8,8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like The Dolder Grand (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
- Save money: The Dolder Grand is a member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) collection. It is possible to collect points here or use points for a free stay with LHW’s loyalty program Leaders Club (read my review of Leaders Club here). However, no matter how much I like LHW, their loyalty program Leaders Club is a disgrace, since you need to pay a hefty fee for membership to enjoy benefits that you can get for free via other booking channels (such as Virtuoso).
- Room tip: If you prefer historic charm, you need to book a classic room in the old wing. If contemorary design is more your cup of tea, it’s better to book a room in the new Norman Foster wings. I highly recommend a room with a view of Lake Zürich, although the rooms overlooking the golf course and woodland are not bad either, offering more of a forest hideaway feel.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Zürich is in summer between June and August, when temperatures are mild and swimming in Lake Zürich is possible (with mostly sunny skies). However, summer is also the most expensive season to visit but even in winter (December to March), hotel rates remain high due to the city’s proximity to the Swiss Alps’ ski slopes. In the shoulder months of April to May (spring) and September to November (autumn), you might be able to find a cheap(er) hotel deal, but weather can be unpredictable.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Dolder Grand is only around 20 minutes away from Zürich Airport by car. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that provide direct flights to Zürich.
*** Follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for a daily moment of travel inspiration ***
Great hotel indeed. We’ve booked with LHW and got an upgrade from a double room deluxe to a junior suite… btw can’t recollect another hotel spa with a snow paradise…
I agree with your impressions of Saltz restaurant. It seemed out of place like trying to be cool and hip within a stylish and “grand” setting. Also, prices were very expensive and quality not on par with the price. I recommend the afternoon tea in the bar (reservation recommended)