Some things never go out of fashion, such as the sense of occasion arriving at one of Europe’s five-star grand hotels and being winged back to the more graceful era of belle époque. Built by Parisian architect Edouard Davinet in 1874 and inspired by the palatial designs of the French neo-Renaissance, Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage in Interlaken bears all the architectural hallmarks of an age when Jugendstil was at its zenith, with its central risalit and polygonal corner tower and Juliet balconies.
The lobby is as elegant as you might imagine – all Corinthian columns, chandeliers, polished marble and stucco as fine as piped icing on lemon walls. With its sweeping staircase and shimmering ballroom, the picture of grandeur is complete, and it’s hard to imagine that this was just a humble guesthouse on the old trade route to the Brünig Pass before Davinet worked his magic. The views, too, are every bit as splendid. From the manicured lawn at the front, the glaciated summits of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau stand out in relief on clear days, while from the terrace at the back, there is a fine outlook across the turquoise Aare River running below slopes that are steep and wooded.
More than 130 years on since it first opened its doors as a grand hotel, the Lindner is still a class act. I have a pinch-me moment as I am ushered up to my corner suite, with phenomenal views of the river, forests, snow-capped mountains and paragliders drifting over the gardens of Höhematte, now in full summer bloom. The junior suite is well spaced, lit and proportioned, with muted hues, antique furnishings, crisp white bedding and a chandelier-lit sitting area. Fresh fruit, mineral water and a Nespresso maker are welcome extras, as is the fast and free Wi-Fi.
In the bathroom, I discover a robe, slippers and sauna towel for heading down to the spa and wellness area, where there’s a pool big enough to swim laps in, with glorious views, as well as a sauna, steam room and fitness area. Clarins products are used in treatments that reach from energising massages to lymph drainage and regenerative facials. It’s a relaxing spot to while away an hour or two. For the more active, the hotel rents out Brownie bikes and mopeds for zipping about town.
You can almost imagine yourself in a glamorous black-and-white movie in the crimson-walled, softly lit lounge bar, where afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen and evening cocktails are served. A pianist plays here daily in winter, while in summer it’s possible to enjoy meals prepared with regional ingredients and drinks out on the terrace overlooking the Aare River. For a more gourmet experience, La Bonne Fourchette puts an international spin on Swiss cuisine from November to March in an intimate, open fire-warmed setting. Here dishes like piri-piri chicken with oregano and buttermilk-poached monkfish with samphire are served with finesse.
Breakfast is a nod to the Bernese Oberland, with eggs served as you wish, fresh breads and fruits, cheeses, meats and smoked fish. It’s again delivered with that same air of polished yet discreet attentiveness that you would expect from a grand hotel of this calibre.
Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage, Höheweg 211, 3800 Interlaken, Switzerland
Tel: +41 33 826 7007
Interlaken is right in the heart of the Jungfrau region in the Bernese Alps, between lakes Thun and Brienz. It’s a great jumping off point for exploring the region, with easy train connections into the mountains. The town is a two-hour train ride from Basel and Zurich, both of which have international airports.
Type of Hotel: 5-Star Grand Hotel
Number Rooms: 101 rooms and suites and complimentary Wi-Fi
Insider Tip: To really blow the budget, book the Royal Suite, complete with dining area and marble bathroom with freestanding tub.
Price Band: High
Reviewer’s Rating: 10/10
Kerry Christiani is an award-winning freelance travel writer, author and MA-qualified translator.
Photographs courtesy of Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage