In the last few years, Switzerland has been very busy with hotel news, from ski-in, ski-out openings in the Alps to design-forward boutique unveilings in Zurich. The hospitality uptick continues with the recent renovation of the iconic Hotel de la Paix on the banks of Lake Geneva. The transformation, which was officially finalized in September, also brought the first Ritz-Carlton managed hotel to the country.
With an investment of about $23.5 million, the makeover and rebranding of Hotel de la Paix orbited around creating a brighter, more contemporary property that would house a slew of programing and features geared to attracting not only a new generation of travelers but also a local clientele. “When I walked in, I knew this place had so much potential,” says new General Manager Guillaume Benezech. “It was an iconic hotel that had character, with very unique and beautiful architecture, but it definitely needed some remodeling.”
The revamp was immediately obvious in the soaring, beautifully marbled lobby, which swapped out the deep reds and oranges in favor of the effervescence of white and pale blue, which are stunningly juxtaposed with bursts of fuchsias and pinks thanks to a collaboration with a local flower maker. Even the atrium’s dramatic centerpiece, a drop chandelier, was refreshed with a more architectural shape to appear more modern.
Today’s popular less-is-more design ethos dominates the hotel’s 74 rooms and suites. Il Prisma, a design agency better known for its work with residential projects, was tasked with imbuing these spaces with a warmth that you would find in your own home. And to that end, the neutral tone palette is a solid foundation for the depth of texture you’ll find in every corner: a sculptural leather loveseat by Jaime Hayon, the sleek wood sideboard from Timber, curvy custom-made desks, rose gold bedside sconces, and carpets designed with an abstract illustration of the skyline of the Swiss Alps. And because many of the rooms face out to Lake Geneva, seeing these very mountains from the comfort of your bed is a real possibility.
Through the years, the original hotel, which opened in 1865, has welcomed many celebrities, most notably Grace Kelly, so it’s no surprise that the renovation included a brand-new presidential suite named after the legendary actress-turned-princess. At 1,130 square feet with its own dining room and living room, this is the property’s marquee guest room, and it shows. There are flashes of gold at every turn, mimicking Grace Kelly’s peerless glamor. Plus, details like a silk headboard embroidered with flowers that grow wild in the Lake Geneva region, a plush fur blanket casually thrown at the foot of the bed, and photographs of the princess herself elevate the overall design experience of the suite.
Another major component of the hotel’s transformation is the opening of two restaurants: the Living Room, an airy all-day dining venue, where the wait staff prepares a cheesy risotto in full view of the guests, and the uber stylish Fiskebar. A Nordic-inspired dining room, Fiskebar has been popular with locals, too, who come for aquavit-forward cocktails in the Instagram-worthy cocktail den and the fresh seafood dishes from the kitchen. (Think: oysters drizzled with a spicy vinaigrette, grilled mackerel, and salad of delicate north sea crab.)
With a more boutique stature plus of-the-moment-leaning eateries, there’s certainly an unexpected youthfulness to this Ritz-Carlton, which has perhaps been better regarded for its regal approach to hospitality, but everything you’d come to expect from the brand perfectly complements this more contemporary attitude, especially the exceptional service from its team of enthusiastic ladies and gentlemen.
Rooms from $645; ritz-carlton.com