Heather, Cate and RiRi hang out in Zurich
Last year, Joe Jonas enjoyed romantic breaks here with his Swiss ex-girlfriend, hot model Blanda Eggenschwiler, before they split, and Rihanna was spotted at a local nightclub. The 2014 Zurich Film Festival saw screen queen Cate Blanchett grace the red carpet along with James McAvoy, Diane Keaton and Heather Graham, and the “most famous legs in show business”, Tina Turner, loved the place so much she turned her back on the US and became a citizen of Switzerland after relocating here back in ’95 (two words: tax breaks).
Lured by the impressive culture and celebrity quotient, Ahlan!’s Sarah Hedley Hymers headed to Albert Einstein’s old stomping ground in pursuit of the high life…
There isn’t a gallery in Zurich with a better collection of modern masterpieces than The Dolder Grand, and it’s so huge the need arose to curate it on iPad; guests can borrow a device from reception and take it around the hotel to get the backstory on each item that they stumble across – and they may literally stumble across them. There are no velvet ropes here. The art is dotted all over; there’s a Salvador Dali wheelbarrow sitting in the lower lobby and a Niki de Saint Phalle pirouetting in the garden; the walls are decked with Warhols; Jeff Koons statues guard the Garden Restaurant; there are not one but three Takashi Murakami sculptures!
Zurich’s Best Hotel
The Dolder Grand looks like a Disney fairy tale castle perched on a gloriously green hillside overlooking the city and Lake Zurich. Visiting Zurich without staying here would be a huge mistake. It has 173 luxurious rooms and suites, two restaurants (the Garden restaurant does a fabulous brunch), a 4,000sqm spa, history stretching back to 1899 and a sense of humour – a fact which is evident in its eclectic art collection. It was so hard to leave. Of all the hotels we’ve reviewed around the world this is the best.
Film Set Location
The Dolder Grand was featured as a location in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Its exterior, reception and luxury Masina Suite all made the final edit, with protagonist Lisbeth Salander, played by Rooney Mara, checking into the super-swish hotel.
Dining with Stars!
With Chef Heiko Nieder at the helm, Dolder’s The Restaurant became the first and only fine-dining restaurant in Zurich to be awarded two Michelin stars. Try the nine-course taster lunch menu to experience the cuisine in all its glory.
The resident professional Medical Wellness team of specialists at the Dolder Grand Spa are trained to carry out nonsurgical treatments and consultations for plastic surgery combined with recuperation packages. Every day there’s a programme of fitness classes from Body Pump to Ballet Workout. The alfresco Jacuzzi overlooks Lake Zurich and the huge spa accommodates both a snow room and heated ‘Sunaburos’ stone loungers (tubs filled with smooth black gravel that you can sink right into). The treatment rooms have open fires and water beds, and the entire experience is nothing short of amazing.
Have a Pint at Zeughauskeller
This ex-weaponry storehouse dating back to 1487 is now a German-style bierhaus with 20 kinds of sausage and loads of hops. There’s still historic artillery as décor and it’s deservedly one of the most popular meeting spots in town.
Part castle, part mansion, the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum) is a quirky collection of historically preserved rooms, vintage slays, artefacts from ornate armour to old Ovaltine tins and pill boxes, political posters and a photo of Zurich resident Tina Turner.
Get Choc-o-block at Café SprÜngli
No trip to Switzerland would be complete without chocolate and Sprüngli has been dishing it up since 1836. Try an afternoon tea at the café on Bahnhofstrasse.
Hit the Streets
Niederdorfstrasse is the hippest street in town. It’s full of bars, shoe shops and vintage stores such as Booster (highly recommended), and on weekend evenings there are often street parties with food trucks, pop-ups and DJs.
Take a Loo Break at Cabaret Voltaire
Birthplace of the curious Dada art movement, this bar-gallery is the coolest pit-stop mid-sightseeing and shopping on Spiegelgasse – and it’s never going to run out of loo roll.
Have a Cheese Feast at Raclette Stube
Stubes are places that serve raclette, molten cheese, which is eaten with pickled onions, gherkins and potatoes. It’s insanely good comfort food and Raclette Stube is the perfect traditional setting in which to try it.
Rooms at the Dolder Grand: From CHF540 per night, +41 44 456 60 00, www.thedoldergrand.com
Currency: CHF10 = Dhs38
GETTING THERE: Emirates flies direct to Zurich, flight time is six to seven hours and costs approximately Dhs5,700.