There has long been a typically Swiss quirkiness when it comes to art – think the Jean Tinquely sculptures in Berne and Zurich. The luxury Dolder Grand Resort, only ten minutes up above Zurich, looking down at its beautiful lake, actually has a Tinguely, base to a bulbous somewhat-female sculpture by Mrs Tinguely, better known as Niki de Saint-Phalle (this whole sculpture, in the courtyard outside the walkway to the Spa Wing, turns through 360° if you push a red button). The gal was always intrigued by four lifesize sculptures, as if by Archimboldo, outside the recently-opened Saltz restaurant.
What a great story this transformation is. The hotel’s former Garden Restaurant was particularly tired when compared to the hotel’s signature Restaurant, which has two Michelin stars. The hotel’s owner, Urs Schwarzenbach, and its MD, Mark Jacob, turned to creative designer Rolf Sachs, son of Gunter Sachs, who devised Saltz. Enter via the statues, and a line of 13 silver-topped glass salt pots, to find a striking open kitchen, its rear wall a red neon outline of Swiss mountains. A ceiling-high carousel holds real postcards for you to take. The ceiling also supports a massive rock, hung by mountaineering crampons. I loved the Saltz menu, for its simple, and Swiss, items.
Typically, start dinner with Small Bites, say La ratte potatoes with Prunier caviar, perhaps accompanied by Absinthe with cassis, flamed beer and sparkling wine or, as in my case, EO Pinot Noir, Staatskellerei Zurich, Gamaret & Merlot. Yes, I could have chosen the signature Zurichois main course, sliced veal in a cream sauce, with rösti potatoes but I preferred my veal whole, on the bone. My Swissness continued at breakfast, also in Saltz, when once again German menus had red borders, English blue – and while I was doing a yoghurt tasting I realised all 12 clocks on one wall state different locations, but say the same hour (has Tinguely been at work, again?). Breakfast jams, by the way, by Markus Kunz for the hotel, intriguingly include a chocolate hazelnut cream.
I always build up a good appetite at this luxury hotel. As well as hiking in the steeply-sloped woods around, there is a good gym, and I love the indoor pool with a wrap-round, ceiling-high window, and adjacent outdoor jacuzzis. I also get plenty of exercise by walking the original 1899 staircase, through four floors and 82 stairs, and merely walking the 130 feet from the three glass-sided elevators to my room, or rather glorious wow Masina Suite, named for Fellini’s wife Giulietta Masina 1921-94 – SEE THE VIDEO BELOW FOR AN INSIDE AND OUTSIDE PANORAMA OF THIS ELEGANT SPACE. Even in a short stay, I always find time, here, to check out some of the 130-plus pieces of art, including a Barry Flanagan leaping hare outside the front door. And of course there is always time, when here, for a therapeutic La Prairie caviar facial in what is, honestly, an outstanding spa.