In and Out…
Lausanne | Hotel Beau-Rivage Palace
The scale of Swiss cities and their proximity to the mountains have made certain hotels in these locations truly ‘urban resorts’ of the first hour: marked by the distinctive regional flavor of their splendid surroundings – your choice of German, French or Italian – the cities of Zurich, Lausanne and Lugano are home to beautiful historic hotels that appeal to business and leisure travelers in equal ways. While Zurich’s ‘Dolder Grand’ stirred up quite a few emotions after its recent ‘reinvention’ by Sir Norman Foster, Lausanne’s lakeside ‘Beau-Rivage’ has consistently maintained the reputation as one of Europe’s most famous hotels since it opened its doors 1861.
The hotel’s current name was established in 1908 when it roughly doubled its capacity by the ‘Palace’ addition and a connecting building that linked both parts of the expanded property.
Architecturally speaking, the ‘Beau-Rivage Palace’ exhibits, side by side, two different styles that would subsequently shape luxury hotels from the mid-1800s over the following fifty years: the sober, classic style which marked the invention of the building type ‘grand hotel’, superseded by the playful, elegant Belle Époque décor in its ‘palace’ maturation.
According to its formula of ‘Tradition in movement’ – the hotel’s approach to an impressive heritage – the ‘Beau-Rivage’ wing still features the imposing full-height central atrium that reflects the classic elegance of the hotel’s founding year, while most of the ground floor spaces and exterior terraces have taken a decidedly contemporary orientation.
The results are impressive and mostly uncompromising; on a November day with rather clement temperatures, the hotel’s ‘Lobby Lounge’ terrace offered an inviting halt to enjoy the views over Lake Geneva towards the mountain range above Évian, on the French shore. The recent furnishings work out quite well and concur with the ambitions of a historic luxury hotel that has decided to be in sync with the 21st century. Given the results in this part of the property, the refurbishment of the ‘Palace’ wing next door gives good hope for equally favorable results.
Although the initial stylistic hybrid of the two buildings has become less stringent in appearance nowadays, the hotel keeps an ingenious balance between old and new, carefully accommodating present-day exigencies that sometimes require audacious moves. This concept is perhaps best illustrated by the modern awnings and glass facades that have been added onto the ‘Rotonde’, one of the hotel’s signature spaces – which, protected by its Landmark status, has preserved the grandiose splendor of bygone times.
Few hotels like Lausanne’s lakefront grande dame epitomize the ongoing allure of Swiss historic hotels in a nutshell: a gorgeous setting, a wonderful panorama, a historic structure that is proud of its legacy, but has also taken some risks to accommodate contemporary requirements without selling its very soul.
Hotel Beau-Rivage Palace
Place du Port 17-19
1000 Lausanne 6