Luxury Hotels

Geneva’s new luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel

Lobby chandelier

Continuing around Lac Leman, the slipper launch – see below – dropped the gal centrally in quai du Mont Blanc, and there was a young Polish bellman from Geneva’s newest luxury hotel, Hotel de la Paix, Ritz-Carlton. Yes, the 1856-vintage beauty that has been transitioning since 2015 finally emerged from chrysalis state on September 14th, 2017, and the result is beautiful. The six-floor open-atrium lobby still has its original chandelier, probably Austrian, but now it is embellished with angled planets that recur in lighting in the gorgeous all-day Living Room that occupies the entire east end of the main floor (the big oval bar table here was once a pharmacist’s table).

Guillaume Benezech in the bar

What was previously the back-office for front-office, if you see what I mean, is now a Philippe Pascoët chocolate emporium, the most enticing I have seen since the chocolate factory at COMO The Treasury in Perth. We walked east, along an inner corridor publicising Audemars Piguet, chosen, says GM Guillaume Benezech, because it is an independent company, and it stands for time that is one of the 75-room hotel’s differentiators (the others are art and nature). We were heading for the signature restaurant, FiskeBar, bsed on a Copenhagen Fish Market – why Copenhagen? ‘Cos it is a trendy global city, said Mr B. obviously thrilled with its success. I loved the open kitchen, the organic butter that came with a small milk churn holding absolutely addictive hotel-churned butter made from deliberately-fermented cream.

Smoked fish platter

Everything, apart from the caviar which comes regularly from Moscow, is home-made here, or bought in daily I started with home-smoked fish, red onion and sour cream. Where do the fabulous ceramic plates come from? The smaller ones, I heard, are saucers that the hotel’s florist uses under his flower pots: conveniently Steelite produces commercial plates that blend perfectly. The Peugeot mills are simple wood, similarly blending perfectly with the satin-smooth wood tables – two heights – and light or black wood chairs, and the whitewood flooring. Everything fits here, and I was reminded yet again how Ritz-Carlton has moved with the times to be absolutely 2017, if not 2018. No-one blinked when I redesigned my main course. This restaurant does not say No.

Aquavit anyone?

And even five years ago no Ritz-Carlton, or any other luxury hotel for that matter, would dress its signature restaurant’s servers in black Superga trainers, paired with pale blue shirts, dark blue trousers and big aprons with leather suspenders crossed at the back. But then in days past who dared to push round an end-of-meal trolley bearing a tasting of chocolates, and home-distilled Aquavit in a big glass jar? They certainly seem to have it right, here. Every top businessperson in town seemed to lunching at FiskeBar that day.