Glass stays at The Dolder Grand art hotel in Zurich

DRIVING up the tree-lined hill and arriving at the entrance of the Dolder Grand feels like a jubilant moment. There is a sense of gentle excitement as guests are welcomed on the hilltop driveway of the original, historic hotel with its vistas sweeping over the immediate, evergreen forest and overlooking Switzerland’s capitol city of Zurich and it’s sparkling blue lake.

The Dolder Grand

Walk through the foyer with the grand staircase and tall, stained-glass windows and check in inside the reception corridor flanked with cutting-edge contemporary art and you’ll soon have the feeling of the place. Works by British artist, Bob and Roberta Smith, Finish artist, Jani Leinonan, Andy Warhol and more inspire with concepts to do with generosity, hospitality and the human spirit. This is just the beginning.

Work by Andy Warhol is a artistic feature of the Hotel’s Foyer

The adjoining lobby bar is topped by a very high wood-fretted ceiling with original, turn of the 20th century ornate floral designs painted in muted greens, reds and golds. Thoughts of romantic times past begin to swirl and the Dolder Grand continues to lure you in.

The Dolder Grand Lobby

The original grand hotel was built in 1899 and looks much like an alpine castle. Curving off to either side of the main building are two new, curved-glass wings designed by renowned architect, Norman Foster. This mixing of tradition and modernity interplays throughout the premises. The Kiss is the name of the exact area where steps down from the old hotel meet the new glass wings at the back of the main building.

Walk through The Kiss and take a left down the curved glass corridor towards the Spa Wing and meet La Jaconde, Rene Magritte’s 1967 bronze, floating-curtain sculpture. Then look to the  right outside to see a voluptuous, blue spinning female figure which is Le Monde by Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tiguely from 1989. These are just two of the one hundred and twenty outstanding art pieces to be encountered while exploring the hotel. An art tour on the hotel’s Art iPads is there for the taking at your own pace in your own time to discover the titles of each work and to learn about the artists who made them. This does take a bit of time and it’s definitely time worth taking.

In the Spa Wing are spacious, curved-glass guest rooms above the spa itself where you find a large, glass and rock-encased swimming pool and an outdoor lounging area with it’s large whirlpool overlooking the forest below. Indoors there are warm-rock, Japanese sunaburo beds to rest in, next to a freezing cold snow paradise room and also separate Ladies and Gentleman’s Spas with steambaths, saunas, and whirlpools. The Spa Wing has a list of features and activities which will keep a relaxation and vitality seeking guest occupied for days. To make the experience even more joyous, there, out on the spa’s lounging terrace, Fernando Botero’s larger than life bronze sculpture Woman With Fruit lies on her front – uninhibited, nude and seemingly enjoying life’s pleasures.

The Spa at the Dolder Grand features a rock-encased swimming pool

The Golf Wing mirrors the Spa Wing in it’s layout, also housing curved-glass guest rooms above a private golf club which overlooks the forest-lined hilltop golf course. Oh yes, and the corridors and grounds of the Golf Wing present phenomenal artworks by Max Ernst, Anish Kapoor, Keith Haring and Takahashi Murakami and more.

Time to dine and enter The Restaurant, Chef Heiko Nieder’s two Michelin-starred dining room and your breath may be taken away by Salvador Dali’s painting Femmes Metamorphosees – Les sept arts’ 1957 – where lively ants and ballerinas with lobster claws dance over a black Stag Beetle against a white-clouded blue sky. To stand before this rarely seen painting is surreal in itself.

‘The Restaurant

The new all-day dining restaurant, Saltz (14 Gault Millau points) is designed by artist, Rolf Sachs whose inspiration comes from the well loved rock-climbing sports of Switzerland. Red climbing ropes criss-cross the ceiling over soft, richly coloured banquettes and a chunk of rock the size of a small meteor hangs from ropes, suspended all but two feet from the floor.  The ceiling-height plate glass windows look out over the forest and sky and beyond towards the valley and Zurich below.

Saltz, the hotel’s new all-day dining restaurant

Enter the Dolder Grand Bar whose entrance is at ceiling level and see marvellous floating candlesticks with Swarovski crystal lights and delight in one of the bar’s special recipes like the Saffron Mojito. Of course, more incredible art abounds inside with Jani Leinonen and Riiko Sakkinin’s We Love Vodka & Freedom 2009. Walk outside to find Mel Ramos’ silver sculpture, ‘Dita’ 2011 of Dita Von Teese splashing in a martini glass and around the corner, Joan Miro’s giant bronze sculpture, ‘Grand personage: projet Pour Un Monument’ 1981 stands proudly on the adjacent terrace.

Historic guests have included Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein and Liz Taylor, contemporary guests include Leonardo DiCaprio, Cher, Janet Jackson and The Rolling Stones who favour the 100 Club Suite which is fashioned completely in 1960’s Pop Art décor as an homage to the legendary rock-n-roll 100 Club venue on Oxford Street, London. This suite is an after-party, party-goer’s dream suite.

The 100 Club Suite

The day after the night before, wake up to the sound of birdsong from the nearby forest and church bells in the distance. The breakfast is served with around 20 types of delicious homemade jams – now head back to the Spa Wing for more of the wonderful activities and save some time for the worldly, well-being library and check out the meditation room, found in the centre of a white spiral walkway. You cannot check out without encountering more of the inspiring fine art works throughout the property. The drive back down the tree-lined hill could be one of the most exuberant getaway exits ever.

by Susie Babchick

Dolder Grand Kurhausstrasse 65, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland

Tel +41 44 456 60 00
Fax +41 44 456 60 01

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