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This Swiss Castle Hotel Has Some of the Best Views in the Country — With a Hidden Omakase Restaurant and a Stunning Spa

What it's like to stay at the Dolder Grand, one of Zurich's most luxurious hotels.

<p>Courtesy of The Dolder Grand</p>

Courtesy of The Dolder Grand

Trekking to a remote Swiss village to fulfill your fairy-tale dreams isn’t necessary when there’s already a magnificent castle hotel overlooking Switzerland's largest city. The Dolder Grand has been a favorite luxury stay in Zurich since opening in 1899, and after staying there myself, it’s not difficult to see why.

The five-star treatment began as soon as I landed at the airport, when I was immediately whisked into a sleek black Mercedes-Benz for a short but scenic journey up Zurich's steep streets toward the hotel. A true champion of glamor and exclusivity, the Dolder Grand rolls out the red carpet for arriving guests. And I mean that literally: A velvet red carpet lined with matching stanchions leads up to the property’s main entrance. It made me feel like I was attending a Swiss royal ball every time I walked through the hotel doors.



Dolder Grand

  • The castle hotel sits on a hill with unparalleled views of Lake Zurich and the Swiss Alps.

  • The enormous spa is home to an 82-foot-long indoor swimming pool surrounded by massive floor-to-ceiling windows.

  • A diverse collection of art is on display throughout the hotel, featuring nearly 100 pieces by 90 artists from various eras.

  • There’s plenty of unique dining options, including a Michelin two-starred restaurant, a private 18-course omakase experience, and a vegan restaurant in the hotel’s vegetable garden.




Inside the hotel: 175 lavish rooms and suites, five impressive dining destinations, large event spaces for weddings and corporate retreats, and a massive 43,000-square-foot spa (that's equivalent to about one full acre). Guests can peruse the hotel’s world-class art collection or enjoy a Michelin-starred meal with the Zurich skyline and Swiss Alps as a backdrop. Off property, reach downtown Zurich within minutes by car, or escape into the forest next to the hotel for a peaceful hike.

<p>Courtesy of The Dolder Grand</p>

Courtesy of The Dolder Grand

In May 1899, the Dolder Grand Hotel & Curhaus (which means “health resort” in German) opened with 220 beds, one restaurant, a reading room, and a billiards room. Basel architect Jacques Gros oversaw the construction of the building, which aimed to serve as a wellness escape for city dwellers. Going rates for a double room during peak season back then ranged between 12 and 20 CHF (that's about $14 to $23). Today, the same accommodation will run you at least 740 CHF ($852). The Dolder Grand has been frequented by distinguished royals, politicians, and A-list entertainers throughout the 20th century, filling the guestbook with notable signatures by iconic figures from Nelson Mandela to Sophia Loren.

While the hotel was built more than a century ago, an early-2000s renovation helped catapult the Dolder Grand into the 21st century. London-based architect Norman Foster restored the main building while simultaneously adding new wings to each side, later named the Spa Wing and Golf Wing. The historic character of the main building is complemented by the contemporary architectural elements of the adjoining structures. This is also evident by the property’s robust art collection, which features a diverse range of pieces spanning multiple centuries. Displayed throughout common areas, you’ll find classic works by Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró, as well as modern artists like Keith Haring and Sylvester Stallone.

<p>Courtesy of The Dolder Grand</p>

Courtesy of The Dolder Grand

Here, my review of the ultra-luxurious Dolder Grand hotel.

The Rooms

Travelers can choose between accommodations that reflect the hotel’s original design in the main building or a more modern stay in the newly renovated rooms. My room, a 400-square-foot Double Room Deluxe in the Spa Wing of the hotel, was a minimalist’s dream, boasting monochromatic tones and sleek lines to create a clutter-free space. A king-size bed, armoire, desk, and extra chair was all I needed to feel the five-star level comfort the Dolder Grand promises. My balcony lent views to the next-door golf course and guests hanging out on the terrace, plus the marble bathroom had a separate walk-in shower and bathtub (score).

<p>Unger Heinz/Courtesy of The Dolder Grand</p>

Unger Heinz/Courtesy of The Dolder Grand

There are four presidential suites, but the Maestro Suite is the largest and by far the most extravagant. Housed in the tower of the main building, the two-floor suite features two bedrooms, a living room, dining room, and library. Outdoor entertainment is also encouraged on the massive panoramic balcony and private lounge terrace. Additional Maestro Suite perks include around-the-clock butler service and limousine access.

<p>Peter Hebeisen/Courtesy of The Dolder Grand</p>

Peter Hebeisen/Courtesy of The Dolder Grand

Food and Drink

Private omakase tastings, forward-thinking vegan alternatives, Michelin-starred fine dining: every meal at the Dolder Grand is an experience. The menu at Saltz Restaurant, the all-day dining establishment, takes a straightforward approach to high-end cuisine. I'm a huge fan of a good breakfast buffet, and Saltz happens to serve one of the best I’ve ever had. Start at the made-to-order omelet station, then head over to the bread and pastry table to select the perfect slice of fresh sourdough to pair with your eggs, plus a chocolate croissant to satisfy your morning sweet tooth. Building your own mini açaí bowl is also a must, and over at the juice bar, you’ll be spoiled for choice with a colorful selection of flavors (I went with a classic green juice). The adjacent open-air terrace is a perfect spot to sip your morning coffee.

<p>Courtesy of The Dolder Grand</p>

Courtesy of The Dolder Grand

The hotel’s culinary claim to fame is a Michelin two-starred restaurant, simply named “The Restaurant.” Executive chef Heiko Nieder creates subject-to-change amuse bouche and 4-course lunch menus, and six- or eight-course tasting menus for dinner. Guests also have the option to pair each course with a wine tasting, which is carefully selected from a collection of more than 500 blends by the on-site sommelier. Private dining is available for parties up to 12, and for groups of six or more, chef will prepare a specially curated menu.

The Dolder Grand also offers an exceptional, 18-course omakase meal served inside Suite 100. The hidden restaurant, Mikuriya, which means “kitchen where food is prepared for special guests,” is limited to only eight seats, guaranteeing an up-close-and-personal view of chef Atsushi Hiraoka’s artistry. And don’t miss out on enhancing this feast for the senses with sake, shochu, or Japanese beer pairings.

The newest addition to the hotel’s culinary portfolio is an all-vegan seasonal pop-up named Blooms. In the on-site vegetable garden, chef Heiko Nieder and his team debuted the subject-to-change tasting menu last summer, which includes light bites made from ingredients sourced directly from the thriving leafy greens and produce surrounding your table.

Experiences and Amenities

Despite the hotel’s city location, The Dolder Grand still manages to feel remote. The birch forest encircling the property provides walking and biking trails. Plus, Dolder Sport is only a stone’s throw away and offers year-round outdoor recreation. Swimming, tennis, and golf are available in the summer, and come wintertime, Dolder Kunsteisbahn – one of the largest open-air ice skating rinks in Europe – takes center stage. The hotel also offers shuttle rides to Zurich’s city center, which is the perfect jumping off point to explore art galleries, shop at high-end vintage boutiques, and eat at local restaurants. Pro tip: rent a boat and zip across the lake to Chez Fritz for Mediterranean cuisine served in a tranquil waterfront setting.

The Spa

Wellness offerings are vast at the Dolder Grand thanks to the 43,000-square-foot spa. The space is separated into ladies, gentlemen, and co-ed areas, each equipped with whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, plunge pools, and even snow rooms. Inside the indoor aqua zone, an 82-foot-long swimming pool is visible from all angles through massive floor-to-ceiling windows. The open-air terrace is the perfect escape for sun-seekers during the warmer months, and the year-round outdoor hydrotherapy circuit is invigorating (especially if you're willing to brave the winter air in December). You could easily laze the day away indulging in the complimentary amenities, but reserving a spa suite or booking a treatment — I suggest a bamboo shiatsu massage or luminous detox facial — lets you unwind in complete privacy.

Image courtesy Terry Ward Wellness at Dolder Grand
Image courtesy Terry Ward Wellness at Dolder Grand

Accessibility and Sustainability

The Dolder Grand is a member of Responsible Hotels of Switzerland, an alliance that brings together the leading companies in ecological and social sustainability. Their electric needs are covered with 100 percent hydropower, and the digitized check-in/check-out process saves an estimated 20,000 sheets of paper every year. A simple yet impactful sustainable touch I always notice when staying in hotels is reusable amenity dispensers. The Dolder Grand takes it a step further by providing reusable water bottles in the spa and fitness center. The property is also EarthCheck certified, which is a leading global certification program for sustainable tourism.

Location

Located on a hill overlooking Lake Zurich and the Alps, the Dolder Grand offers some of the best views in the city. Also, since the property is nestled next to a forest, guests feel immersed in nature without forfeiting the perks of a city vacation. The most happening areas of Zurich can be reached by car in less than 10 minutes and by foot in less than 30 — that is, if you’re willing to face the uphill trek back to the property. The city’s main airport and train station are both less than 20 minutes by car.

How to Get the Most Value Out of Your Stay

As a member of Leading Hotels of the World, a collection of the world’s most luxurious independent hotels, travelers can enroll in the company’s rewards program to receive perks during their stay at the Dolder Grand. This may include upgrades before arrival, preferential treatment on-property, and higher “Leaders Club” status. 

The hotel also offers a handful of special offers and packages to help guests get the most bang for their buck. Notably, the “Just the Two of Us” package for couples is full of exciting surprises, from a guaranteed room upgrade to complimentary bottles of Champagne and meal vouchers. The best deal might be the “One Night on Us” package, where you can spend four nights for the price of three, plus complimentary shuttle rides. Read more about the hotel’s special offers here.

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