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Grand Hotel Kempinski, Geneva.

Words: Sean O’Meara.
Images: Paul Hyde

Sometimes you’ll come across a leisure concept that could only exist in one place. It’s rare, but when it happens and you know you’re having a unique experience, it makes things all the more special. This is true of the Grand Hotel Kempinski Geneva. It owes as much to its Genevoise lakeside location as it does to the gold standard service that runs throughout. It’s easy to build a nice hotel next to a nice lake be done with it, but this is Lake Geneva and anyone who knows Geneva will understand why this particular hotel is the only hotel in town worth your attention.

There are other exceptional hotels in Geneva, but if you want to feel Geneva, this is the place. The recent regeneration of the Kempinski Grand has been done so sympathetically and intelligently that the hotel really benefits from its context. Everything is geared up to reflect the easy going, relaxed and sophisticated nature of the surroundings.

The Grand Hotel Kempinski has made its mark on the European scene, due in no small part to the huge investment and thought that has gone in to their spa – transforming the venue seamlessly from a classy business stop off to a destination hotel in its own right. Other hotels in the Kempinski collection have gone for Givenchy branded spas, but the Geneva property has its own exceptional facility. Since the redevelopment, the spa has become one of the main draws for visitors.

Take breakfast on the terrace of Floor Two bar to kick the day off in perfect fashion. Geneva has a great Summer climate and nothing could be more pleasant than a champagne breakfast over looking the city. Floor Two bar and restaurant is an all day lounge affair serving fresh pastries, local beers, coffee and lunch. The smell alone is enough to keep you seated for longer than you planned. Mingle with business people, locals and tourists as they check email, read the paper or just relax. Come evening and the smell of the patisserie is overtaken by the buzz of people arriving for pre dinner cocktails.

There are two excellent dining options here. Le Grill serves up innovative, locally sourced classics. Tse Yang is the best Chinese in the country. Java club is located downstairs, out of earshot and plays host to Europe’s coolest up and coming DJs.

The location is perfect, the Jet d’eau is visible from all lake facing rooms. You’re in the heart of this compact metropolis, but don’t expect hustle and bustle. Geneva has a unique, laid back personality that you’ll get used to very quickly. From the lobby, to the pool and outside on to the street, you’ll be doing well to feel stressed here. Staff are smart, friendly and dare I say it, quite cool.

The Grand Hotel Kempinski, for all its high end hallmarks isn’t about glitz or razamataz – it’s about clever, well though out ideas. Take the pool area, steel girders criss cross the ceiling and from them hang enormous cushioned hammocks. Ideal for relaxing after a swim or therapy session. The changing area has a unique feel too, wooden boards laid on pebble are characteristic of the type of design cues that set this place apart from the local competition. There’s the odd flourish to remind you that you’re inside an expensive, well run hotel. The lobby is a sprawling study of marble and boutiques, with unique pieces of local inspired art to catch your eye as you pass through. But in the main, the hotel oozes civilized charm and elegance – much like the city outside.

Rooms are modern, comfortable and benefit from floor to ceiling windows that frame one of the most perfect views you can get. Look up and you’ve got snow capped Mont Blanc, look down and you’ve got the shimmering mirror of Le Petit Lac, the inlet of Lake Geneva around which the city was built. A considered and refined design concept is complimented by soft textures and handmade fabrics. The bathrooms are exactly as you’d expect from a sophisticated 5*.

Like most hotels in Geneva, there are first class business facilities here, but the Kempinski is clearly committed to consolidating its reputation as a destination hotel. Europe’s biggest and possibly best hotel suite is here. But in typical style, it’s not something they’ll brag about.

If you’re here on business, treat yourself to a couple of extra days in one of the most elegant cities in Europe. Indulge in a therapy session, get breakfast on the terrace and mingle. It’s a friendly, refined place with a characteristic charm all of its own.

Photography by Paul Hyde

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