Geneva: The Best Kept Weekend City Break Secret
When you combine well-known Swiss efficiency with the charm of Geneva, you are guaranteed a memorable city break. Stunning views, culture, restaurants, shopping and a chic lakeside lifestyle all fuse to combine a city full of character.
Watch the 140m-high Jet d’Eau which shows Geneva’s self-confidence along with the distant mountains and Mont Blanc itself – this really is the ideal city for a short break. The lakeside promenade comes to life all day long and thrill-seekers can enjoy lake trips, helicopter tours and mountain adventures. Seasonal festivals take place throughout Geneva adding and endless array of activities to visitors’ agendas.
The boutique Hotel d’Angleterre, which dates back to 1872, has all the old-world charm with new-world service. Each of the 39 guest rooms and six luxury suites offer opulent, richly decorated and cosy interiors with stunning views across Lake Geneva. The rooms are reflective of the city’s well documented grandeur; each room offering a welcoming Swiss home-from-home experience including complimentary high-speed internet access, interactive TV and iPod docking stations.
The hotel’s Windows Restaurant merges breathtaking views and superb inventive cuisine by chef Philippe Audonnet. The cuisine is international – fusing French and Swiss dishes – and paired with the hotel’s sommelier suggestions, delivers the perfect match. The Leopard Room and Bar is an award-winning bar offering a selection of cocktails and comfort food in a club-style atmosphere complete with contemporary live music.
Stepping straight from the front door onto the broad lakeside promenade you are only a ten minute stroll away from the buzzing cosmopolitan elegance of Rue du Rhone – a broad street lined with Geneva’s most impressive boutiques and stores. These include Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Valentino, Versace, Gucci and Montblanc, to name but a few. There are also the world’s finest jewellers and watch makers, such as Patek Philippe, Blancpain, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Boucheron, Chopar and Fabergé.
From here you can amble up the gentle hill to the Old Town, with its quaint streets, narrow alleyways and picturesque squares to discover Geneva’s fascinating 2000 year old history.
The Place du Bourg-de-Four, in the very heart of the Old Town, has been a thriving commercial centre since Roman times. Houses were built here to accommodate exiled Protestants, and it is still one of the city’s favourite meeting places. There’s a lovely 18th century flowered fountain in the centre with tables and chairs outside the cafés and bistros – a wonderful spot for a coffee while you admire the handsome 16th, 17th and 18th century buildings.
The Place du Molard is also well worth a visit. In the heart of Geneva’s left bank, surrounded by a rich array of department stores, luxury boutiques and restaurants, it has a lovely octagonal fountain with a marble obelisk dating from 1771, and an impressive tower which was originally part of the city’s defensive wall.
Saint Peter’s Cathedral, on top of the hill at the centre of the old town, is an impressive reminder of Geneva’s defiant Protestant stand during the reformation. Dating right back to 1160, it has a mighty tower from which you can enjoy a fabulous panoramic view of the city and the lake.
Geneva boasts over 40 fascinating museums and art galleries. The Art & History Museum covers the whole of western culture, from its origins to the present day, while The Patek Philippe Museum hosts an exceptional collection of horological exhibits, musical automata and portrait miniatures.
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art houses an eclectic collection of installations, videos, paintings, photographs, and sculpture. The Barbier-Mueller Museum is an archaeologists dream with over 7,000 masks, tools, statues, ornaments and other singular articles in the permanent collection, with numerous temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
The Tavel House is devoted to the urban history and daily life of Geneva. It showcases objects, drawings, engravings and photographs, coins, furniture and collections of silver, from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 20th century, as well as a huge scale model of Old Geneva and its fortifications.
Geneva is one of Europe’s greenest cities, with 50 parks. These include the English Garden, Botanical Garden, Parc des Eaux-Vives, Parc de la Grange, the Perle-Du-Lac, Ile Rousseau, and Parc des Bastions, the former botanical garden with its lovely promenade in the heart of the city littered with monuments, fountains and statues.
The Flower Clock, in the English Garden, is the world’s largest floral clock, while the Reformation Wall in the Bastions Park, is a monument to Geneva’s turbulent religious past.
Once guests have explored Geneva, the Hotel d’Angleterre offers a range of health and fitness facilities including a sauna and fitness centre. The hotel also has access to the exclusive Insens where the finest treatments in Geneva are available.
by Peter da Silva
For more information on booking your perfect Swiss holiday, visit www.myswitzerland.com
Hotel d’Angleterre, Quai du Mont-Blanc 17, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland