Check in to luxury at Zürich’s best business hotels, from grand Neoclassicism to boutique Art Nouveau. By Michelle Margherita.
A secret Swiss bank account has long been a symbol of power, yet centuries before Switzerland became a safe haven for the wealthy, it was an important European trade hub with Zürich at its centre.
This has been both a blessing and a curse, for although the city regularly tops quality-of-living indexes with its pretty Old Town and neat-as-a-three-piece-suit financial district, Zürich suffers from the perception of being, well, a bit boring. The past few years, however, have seen the city reclaim the bohemian character it enjoyed during the First World War, when the city was an asylum for artists and writers who founded the anarchic Dada movement in the darkness of the Cabaret Voltaire nightclub. These days, young urban creatives on fixies are driving the city’s cultural renaissance in the former industrial district of Kreis 5, where, in converted railway arches and shipping-container restaurant spaces, you’ll find a flourishing contemporary art, food and night-life scene.
A knock-on effect is that cool cafés and bars can now be found around Paradeplatz – the Swiss equivalent of London’s Square Mile – alongside the luxury hotels and excruciatingly expensive restaurants for which the area is known. Compact and easily navigable, the financial district is only minutes away from the Bahnhofstrasse boutiques and Lake Zürich foreshore, while the cobblestoned Old Town is a 10-minute walk from Paradeplatz. Here’s how to mix business with pleasure in the “city of banks”.
Park Hyatt Zürich
This 138-room five-star hotel in the financial district is one of Zürich’s key business hotels. It’s beautifully situated near Lake Zürich and a short walk to Paradeplatz. The spacious lobby, original artworks and elegant soft furnishings have a boutique feel and the recently refurbished interiors are a calming oasis of oatmeal, wheat and olive hues with dark-oak details and marble-everything bathrooms.
Business facilities: A business hub with printers is available. Or you could set up camp in The Lounge. The coffee and spirits bar, as well as good burgers, means it’s the ideal place to work, eat, repeat.
Wi-fi: Fast and free.
Food and drink: Parkhuus – with its open kitchen, relaxed dining room and alfresco terrace – prides itself on provenance, sourcing produce from nearby fields and forests. Adjacent is Onyx, one of Zürich’s most popular high-end bars.
Fitness and wellbeing: The 24-hour gym may be on the small side but the equipment was updated a year ago. There’s also a steam room and a sauna (open 7am to 11pm).
Run route: Head south and cross the river via the Quaibrücke for a five-kilometre run along the pretty lake foreshore to Zürichhorn park.
Coffee nearby: Around the corner, the coffee window at Ona Poké peddles gipfeli (croissants) and cappuccino with silky foam.
Beethovenstrasse 21, Zürich
Dating back to 1357, this 66-room boutique hotel underwent a multimillion-dollar overhaul earlier this year to emerge with its fifth star. Elegant Art Nouveau interiors and Mid-century styling give a fresh, modern feel, while original features such as stained-glass windows, wood-panelled walls and parquetry retain an old-world touch. There are two types of guestroom: Classic, featuring print drapes and upholstery (ask for the corner room – it has the best view); and Contemporary, which has marble-and-brass bathrooms. The Storchen is ideal for those who want a buzzy hotel with excellent service.
Business facilities A relaxed business lounge is on the ground floor, with the Limmat River just metres away. Overstuffed sofas, velvet armchairs and low tables are where you and your laptop will be most comfortable – until you’re distracted by the people-watching on the Wühre walkway.
Wi-fi: Complimentary for guests.
Food and drink: Barchetta’s glorious riverside piazza is just the spot for morning coffees or apéro (after-work drinks). The first-floor La Rôtisserie serves a delicious breakfast buffet and, for the rest of the day, an international menu of fish, meat and even vegan options, which are best enjoyed from the spectacular balcony.
Fitness and wellbeing: No facilities but The Storchen offers guests drop-in sessions (about $45) at the nearby Holmes Place gym.
Run route: For a six-kilometre run, cross the river and head north along Limmatquai. Cross back over at Bahnhofbrücke and continue along Museumstrasse and then Limmatstrasse all the way to Wipkingerbrücke. Cross the Limmat onto Hönggerstrasse then follow the river back to the hotel.
Coffee nearby: You’ll find good coffee and the best cinnamon roll in the Old Town at Delish Café Take-Out.
Weinplatz 2, Zürich ￼
An architectural maze of rooms and winding corridors, the five-star Widder is a glorious mix of antique and modern. Nine medieval townhouses in the Old Town have been painstakingly converted into a 49-room boutique hotel with lots of quirks from its 700-year-old history: a circular room here, a sloping floor there and metre-thick walls joining it all. Every room is unique, though marble bathrooms, Biedermeier antiques and Eames chairs are common threads. Breakfast and the minibar are always included.
Business facilities: A discrete office space contains equipment such as a computer, scanner and printer, while conference rooms with dining facilities make this hotel ideal for large groups. Many of the suites have loft-style office spaces and the library, with its exposed brick walls and comfy leather chairs, is a great place to work.
Wi-fi: Complimentary throughout.
Food and drink: The Widder is one of the coolest places to eat and drink in the Old Town. A riot of black-and-white tiling and industrial lamps, AuGust bistro is a meat-lover’s fantasy. Be sure to visit the renowned mixologists at Widder Bar when it reopens, newly refurbished, this month.
Fitness and wellbeing: Stone pillars, exposed wood and new equipment make for one stylish hotel gym. Nutrition consultations and private training sessions are available.
Run route: Take Bahnhofstrasse to General-Guisan-Quai. Run through the Arboretum, along Mythenquai, and then on to Sternenstrasse to Rieterpark. It’s a five-kilometre trip.
Coffee nearby: Just steps away is Honold, a bustling century-old tearoom that also serves great coffee and pastries.
￼Rennweg 7, Zürich
Baur Au Lac
￼Looking at its unassuming dove-grey, Neoclassical exterior, you’d never guess the 119-room Baur au Lac is the grandest five-star boutique hotel in Zürich. Owned and run by the Baur family since 1844, it’s comfortable, tasteful and opulent, and counts Haile Selassie and Brigitte Bardot among its guests. The spacious rooms and suites are decorated with original art, while minibar items (included in the rate and replenished daily) are hidden inside ornate gilded cabinets. With first-class service, a private park and a location that straddles the financial district and the Old Town, it caters primarily to a business clientele during the week.
Business facilities: Yes, there’s a business centre but it’s the six high-tech conference salons that are most impressive.
Wi-fi: Super-fast and free.
Food and drink: Set in a glass gazebo, the Michelin-starred fine-diner Pavillon has acclaimed chef Laurent Eperon at its helm. A hipper crowd frequents the more casual Rive Gauche.
Fitness and wellbeing: The rooftop fitness centre has incredible lake and mountain views.
Run route: For a five-kilometre run, go south along the banks of Lake Zürich, turning back when you get to the tiny island of Saffa-Insel.
Coffee nearby: Visit Odeon for some history with your brew. Somerset Maugham used to write here; Einstein was a regular, too.
Talstrasse 1, Zürich