Geneva is frequently referred to as one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland, and it turns out it’s also the ideal getaway destination for special occasions. I spent my birthday at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva, and it was a weekend to remember.
Geneva is the center of diplomacy, so hospitality is a given. And although the most populous city of the French-speaking part of Switzerland is one of the most expensive cities in the world, it is a worthy stop for all types of travelers. Here’s how I spent three days in Geneva with friends at the hands of the attentive staff at the Ritz-Carlton.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix is a real jewel set between the shores of Lake Geneva and the iconic Mont-Blanc, a few steps from the old center of the city. During its 150-year history, which spans three centuries, it has always been considered a place to be for international jet setters. Its rooms have hosted legendary personalities such as Giuseppe Garibaldi and Victor Hugo, whose portraits are reproduced today on the tapestries suspended in the majestic entrance hall.
If you’re staying in Geneva, insist on a lake view. Lake Geneva is a lovely background year-round, and we enjoyed it every morning from our Junior Suite. Talking about attractive sights, our room greeted us with a bottle of Champagne and colorful macarons. What a way to keep the eyes away from the window!
The classic interiors, inspired by the Italian palazzo, has recently been enriched with sophisticated touches of contemporary design. The restyling focused in particular on the 74 rooms, the most exclusive of which is the Grace Kelly presidential suite, named after one of the hotel's most esteemed guests who stayed here in the late 1960s. The 105-square-meter suite exudes elegance, featuring: a master bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchenette, two bathrooms, and dining room.
Fred by Fiskebar is where you want to go for a night out of drinking and catching up. This is the city’s most famous bar, and it’s easy to see why — the signature cocktails tell a story, a narrative well represented in the Scandi decor.
After an evening at the bar, we dined at Fiskebar itself. The highlight? Wine and Nordic flavours. Swiss wine is better than ever — so much that few bottles ever leave the country, so we trusted the server to put together a Swiss wine and Nordic dishes exhibition. The Chef surprises with every dish, the culinary trompe-l'oeil, the improbable mixes and the combination of textures that are surprising in their originality and their taste.
Our second day started with breakfast and champagne in the suite. Are these the best Benedicts in Europe? They might be, especially for the local smoked salmon and the freshly made pancakes. A fruit platter gave color to the lavish morning meal that was both light and filling.
We then explored Geneva’s old town — I won’t spoil this one for you, but you’re in for a treat! Back at the hotel, it was time to blow out the candles. This year I had three cakes — one from the Ritz hotel itself, one from Living Room Bar & Kitchen, and one from my friends, and all were delicious; this is Switzerland, after all.
Birthday dinner at Living Room Bar & Kitchen was undoubtedly a highlight of the trip. The well-lit, lake-side restaurant on the scenic Quai de Mont Blanc offers creative local cuisine in an artsy menu curated by Chef Rosario Abramo. My friends dined a la carte, but I went for the short multi-course menu — the menu changes often, but classic French flavors with modern flair are well represented at LR&K.
We had to return to Living Room Bar & Kitchen on our last day in Geneva, and we did — this time for brunch. Bloody Maries and oysters are always a good plan, but none of us expected the creamy mushroom and chestnut soup and the lake perch with polenta and butter sauce. Ending on a sweet note, we tried the French toast with whipped cream (pain perdu) and red berries with caramel sauce and the pancakes with warm chocolate sauce; you can’t miss them!
After what seemed like the shortest weekend of the year, I left part of myself in Geneva. The Ritz-Carlton’s warmth, the historical yet modern town on the lake, and the good company made my trip one to remember. Add Geneva to your bucket list; what a city!