Thirty minutes east of Geneva, the medieval city of Lausanne overlooking Lake Geneva and the French Alps is one of the world’s most soigné settings. Here, the Belle Epoque, 168-room Hotel Beau-Rivage Palace is arguably Switzerland’s most revered hotel with its classic finery, curvy cupolas and Mansard roof fronting the central harbor.
I’m standing at the water’s edge next to dozens of couples holding hands watching white swans swim along the shore. Sharp looking waiters are setting up the nightly champagne dinner aboard the hotel’s restored 1904 steamer ship, Le Montreux. And across the water on the French side, the town of Evian is just visible in the distance.
More than $100 million has been invested in renovations over the last decade to maintain appearances for people who maintain appearances. Many grand dame hotels turn into caricatures after their centennial birthdays, but the updated decor and wide range of ages among the guests keep the place feeling fresh and vibrant.
For fine dining, the Michelin 2-star Anne-Sophie Pic Restaurant is a modern interpretation of Southern French dishes with a new, ever so modish decor to match. The John Dory in foamy milk infused with Martinique rum is good.
For casual dining, the Café Beau-Rivage brasserie looks like it just stepped out of Vogue Paris, brimming with relaxed bonhomie while patrons enjoy the fresh lake air and pan-fried deer. Afterwards, everyone segues next door into The BaR for live jazz and cocktails.