Pitted against some tough local competitors, including Zurich’s prestigious lakeside Hotel Baur au Lac and the neoclassical Eden au Lac, the Dolder Grand Hotel manages to outshine them all—and in fact, for many fivestar-hotel connoisseurs, is among the handful of Europe’s finest. With spires and turrets in the style of the German Art Nouveau called Jugendstil, the extraordinary building sits in an equally extravagant 125-acre park high above Zurich, reached by funicular.
Its acclaimed restuarant, La Rotonde, faultlessly serves an excellent traditional Mediterranean menu; Sunday lunch buffet is also justifiably renowned. From the hotel’s understatedly elegant guest rooms (many with balconies) to the gorgeous 9-hole golf course, pool (with a wave-making machine), and skating rink, everything at the Dolder shares the same remarkable views of Switzerland’s most commercially and financially powerful city. The century-old main wing is the favorite of return guests; don’t miss the Gobelin Room, which houses an enormous 18th-century tapestry.
Down below, in town, everyone who is anyone turns up at Kronenhalle at one time or another. Tradition is everything in Zurich, and it reigns supreme at this well-loved classic. Kronenhalle’s animated scene is something to behold, and its traditional Swiss and French cooking is very good. But the decor is the highlight. Every inch of burnished wood paneling is covered by 20th-century paintings and drawings, including originals by Klee, Chagall, Braque, Picasso, Matisse, and Kandinsky. They were collected by longtime owner Hulda Zumsteg, whose portrait still hangs here as well. Since her passing in 1985, her son carries on in the tradition that drew regulars like James Joyce, Richard Strauss,and Thomas Mann. In the likely event that there’s no available table when you arrive without reservations, head to the genial adjoining bar, ask for the signature Ladykiller, and take in the scene. Perhaps a cancellation will provide a table. Even if you order nothing more than the standard sausage and favorite rosti potato es, it will be delicious, you’ll be full (for the next couple of days), and the evening will be consummately Swiss.