A Small but Mighty City
Art culture and ambience – Zurich supplies the rabid culture vulture or chilled out clubber with much to enjoy. Or you can simply wander the colourful and historical streets and take it easy
Article by Therese Schwabe
Tourism has a long tradition in Switzerland, started by English aristocrats in the 18th century. Nowadays the country welcomes international travelers who come to Switzerland enjoy the wonders of nature and winter sports.
The city of Zurich is well worth a stopover on your way to the mountains or a short weekend trip on its own, particularly during the summer months when pleasant temperatures allow one to savour gastronomic specialties in numerous lake view restaurants, garden terraces and open-air bars (www.zuerich.com/en/visit/explore/food). Chocolate and cheese fondue come to most people’s minds, however, the city also has an impressive number of 12 Michelin starred restaurants relatively to its small population size of only four hundred thousand inhabitants.
Zurich’s vibrant art and cultural scene keeps up with large European cities. This is made more accessible through the purchase of the ZürichCARD (48 CHF/c. 38GBP) which gives visitors 72 hours free or reduced entry to more than 50 museums, free use of public transport, including an excursion up the Uetliberg, Zurich’s local mountain and reduced fares (5 CHF) on boat trips on the river “Limmat” and Lake Zurich. Yet, I can almost guarantee that any savings on your daytime activities will quickly be offset by the evening program, namely the dinner bill.
During the 19th and 20th century era, well before the invention of Snapchat and Instagram, the glitzy and ritzy travelers to Switzerland took their personal painter with them. Today we can enjoy their holiday souvenirs, where many of those landscape paintings are shown in the Zurich Kunsthalle. The museum also shows works by Alberto Giacometti as well as local artists and contemporary Swiss painters such as Pipilotti Rist and Peter Fischli / David Weiss. International works of significance include the largest Edvard Munch collection outside of Norway, key works by Picasso, Monet and Chagall and post 1945 art of Warhol, Rothko, Twombly, Beuys, Bacon and Baselitz. Kunsthaus Zurich owns an impressive collection of more than 100,000 pieces of art of with only a fraction being on permanent display. The New Kunsthaus, which opens its doors in 2020 will become Switzerland’s largest museum, will allow more of its outstanding collection to be shown.
Any visitor should stroll through Zurich’s old town of historical corners and alleyways between mediaeval houses and guild and town halls from the Renaissance period. A nice and unrestricted view on Zurich’s landmark, the “Grossmünster” and other important historic buildings, opens up to visitors who find their way up to the “Lindenhof” on the western side of the river. It will take another five minutes’ walk to get to Switzerland’s most important shopping mile “Bahnhofstrasse” lined with luxury boutiques and department stores selling fur, watches and jewelry. Walking south down the Strasse brings you to “Bürkliplatz” from where boats leave for roundtrips on beautiful Lake Zurich.
To literally dive into the typical Zurich lifestyle, pack a swimming costume during the summer months. It will enable travelers to enjoy a laidback sunny afternoon in the midst of the crowds along the river Limmat in one of the popular “Limmat-Badi” where one can refresh after walking through the streets. Another way to absorb Zurich’s chilled atmosphere would be to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate on one of the terraces in the old town where time seems to have stood still, particularly on Sundays when the shops are usually closed.
It is worth visiting Zurich-West to get off the typical tourist path. The former industrial district has transformed into a trendy quarter with many design shops under the old “Viadukt”. Finish the shopping tour at “Frau Gerolds Garten” to sip a relaxed cocktail and enjoy home cooked food in an urban garden setting. At night, the district turns into the hottest nightlife scene in Switzerland with clubs like Hive and Club Supermarket.
I stayed at the Kameha Grand Hotel in Zurich Opfikon, one of Marcel Wanders´ latest design projects which opened its doors in 2015. The hotel caters to the needs of today´s traveler with high quality amenities, smart technology and playful contemporary design presented by very friendly approachable staff in a locally inspired ambience.
The hotel has 245 rooms, of which 11 are individually designed theme suites for travelers seeking a special twist which may feature table football, mini ping-pong table – or even a roulette table in the James Bond inspired Gentlemen’s Suite. The highlight of the hotel is its Space Suite designed by the German contemporary artist and aspiring astronaut Michael Najjar which, I visited to receive my first ever Anti-Gravity-Facial. After this one hour “space travel “during which I was “beamed” into total relaxation, I came back to earth to marvel at the striking anti-aging results of one hour of stimulating facial exercises. Or could there have been some slower aging due to gravitational time dilation, as well?
Guests at the Kameha have two dining options. YOU offers French Asian fusion fine dining for which it was awarded its first Michelin Star last year. L’Unico serves traditional Italian cooking including pizza and homemade pasta (including a gluten-free option). The wine cellar comprises a solid selection of international wines and has a wide range of Swiss wines which are mostly unknown outside its borders. Thankfully the gym and detox yoga session on the rooftop in the morning balanced the excesses of the night before.
Kameha Grand Zurich (www.kamehagrandzuerich.com ,+41 44 525 5000) offers rooms from £127 a night based on two people sharing a Premium Room. For more information on Switzerland visit www.MySwitzerland.com /00800 100 200 30. For more information on Zurich visit www.zuerich.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org , Tel. +41 44 215 40 00. Airport lounge access available through www.plaza-network.com