Guide to Switzerland By Denise Howell

Denise Howell stayed with Swiss Deluxe Hotels and sampled some of the best restaurants in town.

If you thought that Switzerland was all about skiing, winter sports and cuckoo clocks then think again! A flight to Geneva and a mere hour’s train journey will transport you through a countryside of wonderful autumn colours interspersed with pine trees to a delightful town called Neuchatel. My friend and I arrived at the five-star Hotel Beau-Rivage situated on the popular Esplanade du Mont-Blanc promenade overlooking the Lake Neuchatel. In addition to a prime location, the hotel has 66 rooms and four spectacular suites and is within a five-minute walk of the city centre and a bustling market.

Dinner on the first night was at The Brasserie de Cardinal. This bistro with original decorative hand painted tiles from around the 1930’s was rustic and lively, without being loud. The food was delicious and the ample portions were more than generous leaving us needing a stroll after dinner.  Neuchatel is very picturesque and steeped in history; many of the buildings in the town are made of yellow stone, which gives an eerie but romantic glow at dusk.

Starting the next day early, we visited the Corum Watch Museum where complex timepieces and exceptional works of art are displayed. We had the privilege of watching some of the components being created and completed. Bespoke matching watches are popular with couples around Valentines and Christmas. I longingly admired the feminine, delicate and very beautiful Golden Gate Bridge watch priced at £42,000!

We then had lunch at Ferme des Bradt in La Chaux de-Fonds, a renovated 17th century farmhouse where you can choose to dine in the old kitchen under the huge chimney, or in a beautiful wood-panelled dining room.  After a substantial lunch we decided to do an Absinthe tasting at the distillery Artemisia with the humorous proprietor, Claude-Alain Bugnon. Although the Absinthe was not to my taste we were informed that drinking it everyday is very good for a healthy digestion!

That night we had a relaxing dinner at O’terroirs restaurant at Beau Rivage. We both had five courses, consisting of Cannellonie de cerf marine, Foie gras , Tournedo de chevreuil aux champignon, cheeses, followed by the most amazing chocolate confection. As an alternative to Absinthe we enjoyed several wines, including a delicious 2008 Gewurztraminer, Caves du Prieure, Cormondreche and Metissage Reserve due beau-Rivage 2009

The next day it was off to Lausanne but we took a detour and had lunch at the gourmet restaurant Le Berceau des Sens atEcole Hotelier de Lausanne. This is the school where they train the staff for Five Star Hotels from around the world.  The school’s students are all rigorously trained and served our fantastic lunch with aplomb.

After lunch we arrived at our next destination the Lausanne Palace & Spa, a palace built in 1915 and only 40 minutes from Geneva. The hotel’s rooms and suites are beautifully decorated with breath-taking views of Lake Geneva and the Alps.  The view was so inviting that I was nearly persuaded to attempt skiing, but instead decided to prepare for dinner, which transpired to be yet another fantastic gastronomic experience.   We blissfully munched on Chef’s own recipe olive tapas and then enthused over the main course. The night closed with dancing and cocktails at Lausanne Palace’s bar, to the music of their singer and pianist.

After a relaxing day dipping in the vast swimming pool and jacuzzi and soaking in the warmth of the hamman, we reserved a table for dinner at the Beau Rivage at Ouchy.  Located in 10 acres of gardens, the hotel commands breathtaking views across the lake to the majestic Alps beyond, and internally boasts some magnificent artwork both antique and modern, which gives the venue a distinct style.

The next day and it was time for our departure home. It was an extraordinary trip – filled with exceptional views, culinary treats and relaxing moments. However, next time perhaps we will muster up the courage to try the skiing! A sure fire way to make all those memories even more deserved!

Swiss Deluxe Hotels,Zurich

Tel. +41 (0)43 243 71 40