From its inception in 1865, Geneva’s posh Hotel de la Paix attracted high-profile guests, from financiers to diplomats to Hollywood A-listers, who reveled in its white-glove service, elegant ambiance and world-class culinary offerings. After 150 years of devoted service, in September 2017, the Hotel de la Paix emerged from a top-to-bottom, $23 million makeover and a rebranding at the hands of The Ritz-Carlton Company. Now, the reimagined de la Paix is poised to attract a new wave of stylish travelers and Swiss locals alike.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva — the company’s first property in Switzerland — is both classic and modern, having retained many of the building’s original finishings (marble floors and the giant, crystal drop chandelier that hangs in its soaring lobby atrium, to name just two) while welcoming all-new updates. Dark red and orange décor was swapped out in favor of icy blues and cool grays, and, in many spaces, traditional furnishings gave way to more modern, clean-lined pieces.
To fully appreciate the hotel’s legendary service and style, book its 1,184-square-foot Mont-Blanc Suite, which has high ceilings, fireplaces and private balconies with views of Lake Geneva and the Alps. Designed to accommodate three guests (or two adults and two kids), the suite has a separate bedroom with a king-size bed; a living room with a pull-out sofa bed; and two full bathrooms. Ask your clients to book it with an additional connecting room if they are traveling with friends.
Slightly smaller but a favorite of one of the hotel’s most celebrated guests, the 1,130-square-foot Grace Kelly Suite is replete with gilded and art deco design details. Guests can bask in bright sunlight while seated in the suite’s large bay window, relax in its spacious living room, entertain friends and family in its separate dining room (it has a kitchenette), or enjoy views of Lake Geneva, the Alps and Geneva’s Brunswick monument from the suite’s private balconies. All the while, Princess Grace looks on from the walls, which are adorned with portraits of the late princess and her family. Kelly, a president of Monaco’s chapter of the Red Cross, often traveled to Geneva, which is the organization’s international headquarters.
The Living Room Bar & Kitchen serves healthy, seasonal, trendy and creative cuisine with a view overlooking the lake.
If you don’t need quite so much space, opt instead for a Corner Junior Suite or a One Bedroom Lake View Suite (the latter category offers connecting rooms). The scaled-down yet spacious suites feature separate living areas, high ceilings and dazzling views of Lake Geneva, its iconic Jet d’Eau, the Alps and bustling Quai du Mont-Blanc below.
Whichever room or suite you choose, contact Reservation Manager Timothée Auguet ([email protected]; 011-41-229-096-036) a month ahead to book stays from May through September, and at least a week ahead during the rest of the year.
In addition to its rooms and suites, the hotel’s food and beverage offerings were updated and expanded during the renovation. The cozy and polished new Living Room Bar & Restaurant serves up seasonal dishes ranging from hearty comfort food to fresh, light fish. Don’t miss the mantecato risotto presentation: The rich, Italian rice dish is prepared in full view, inside the hollow of a giant parmesan wheel, and is scooped into your dish — rich, creamy, piping hot and ready to devour. Be sure to ask for assistance choosing a Swiss wine from the Living Room’s list. Switzerland exports only about 2 percent of its wines, so you won’t want to pass up an opportunity to try them. For reservations, send a note to [email protected]; or call 011-41-229-096-065, and be sure to book early if you plan to come for its popular brunch.
Fiskebar is a Nordic-inspired restaurant known for aquatic specialties prepared in inventive fashion.
On the opposite side of the lobby, guests will find Fiskebar, a Nordic-inspired restaurant specializing in just-caught fish, shellfish and other aquatic delicacies prepared in exciting and inventive fashion (think octopus tempura; chilled, cocoa-dusted oysters; and rainbow trout with pickled mushrooms and pine oil). The dishes are as Instagram-worthy as is the restaurant itself, so come with your smartphone fully charged. Fiskebar isn’t only about food; the restaurant also offers an exciting aquavit presentation. Order a taste and your denim-and-apron-clad server will roll up tableside with a giant glass globe filled with the famous Scandinavian spirit before using an oversized dropper to fill your glass. To book a table at Fiskebar, contact Restaurant Manager Pierre Lelièvre ([email protected]; 011-41-229-096-066) before your arrival. After dinner at either spot, cozy up on a velvet, jewel-tone sofa in Fiskebar’s adjacent lounge. Order up a classic drink (bartenders make a mean French 75) or an inventive aquavit cocktail.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva doesn’t have its own spa, but you can ask one of the hotel’s concierges to help set up an in-room treatment or to book services at the nearby President Wilson hotel. Reach out to Heni Trabelsi (hé[email protected]; 011-41-229-096-042), Jonathan Schmitt ([email protected]; 011-41-229-096-042), or Laurane Doulcet ([email protected]; 011-41-229-096-042). The concierge staff can assist with other off-site outings, including lunch or dinner at the Michelin-star Le Flacon in Geneva’s charming La Carouge neighborhood; a private yacht outing on Lake Geneva complete with champagne and hors d’oeuvres; shopping; tours to the United Nations and other important sites; wine tastings and visits to local vineyards; and a hands-on chocolate-making experience at chocolatier Philippe Pascoët’s Carouge atelier. Pop in to his boutique in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix’s lobby, and you’ll be smitten with his take on Switzerland’s most famous sweet treat.
Carouge District in Geneva is famous for its many boutiques and studios.
How to Live like a very happy local
This casual, Michelin-star bistro in Geneva’s Mediterranean-influenced Carouge neighborhood serves elegant, earthy dishes (think fluffy gnocchi with meaty mushrooms) alongside excellent wines.
Rue Vautier 45, 1227 Carouge GE
Le Flacon in La Carouge neighborhood has an open kitchen to allow diners to appreciate the work of the chef and his team.
Philippe Pascoët Chocolate
After lunch or dinner at Le Flacon, stop in the cozy shop for silky-smooth chocolates infused with everything from coriander to mint to absinthe. (There’s a location in the Ritz-Carlton’s lobby, too.)
Rue Saint-Joseph 12, 1227 Carouge, Switzerland
Musée d’ethnographie de Genève
Architecture and culture buffs won’t want to miss exploring Geneva’s Ethnography Museum; its collection comprises 80,000 pieces, ranging from aboriginal Australian art to ancient Asian artifacts. (Additional museums in Geneva pay homage to the Red Cross, natural history, Information and Telecommunication Technology, and, of course, art.)
Boulevard Carl-Vogt 65-67, 1205 Genève
Ethnography Museum of Geneva has more than a thousand objects that cover several centuries of history.
Palais de Nations (U.N. Headquarters)
Pay a visit to the global center of diplomacy, and don’t miss Swiss artist Daniel Berset’s iconic, red “Broken Chair” sculpture that towers high over head outside on the plaza. (Tours often sell out, and schedules are sometimes abbreviated due to overwhelming demand.)
Rue du Rhône and Rue du Mont-Blanc
Switzerland is famous for watchmaking, and you can find nearly every major luxury timepiece maker along these posh Geneva shopping avenues, just a short stroll across the Rhône via the Pont du Mont-Blanc bridge.
Rue de l’Hotel-de-Ville
This narrow street in Geneva’s charming Old Town, just a few blocks south of Rue du Rhône and Rue du Mont-Blanc, is rife with chic art galleries, antiques shops, book stores and boutiques stocked with fine apparel, jewelry and home décor.
La Maison du Moulin
Wine is one of Switzerland’s best-kept secrets. A short, scenic drive outside Geneva will take you to a number of picturesque vineyards, such as La Maison du Moulin (translation: House of the Mill) in bucolic Coinsins. Its organic wines are bottled so beautifully, you’ll want to bring a few home to savor later. Ask a Ritz-Carlton concierge to help arrange a private visit, tour and tasting.
Sarl Chemin du Grand Pres 4, 1267 Coinsins