The Long Weekend: There's more to Geneva than conference centres, including the La Réserve

 
Hannah Wilkinson

Geneva may be a business capital from Monday to Friday, but there's something for the weekend here too.

The weekend: Witness the scrum for hand-luggage space on Friday night flights from Geneva to London City Airport and you’d be forgiven for thinking the city simply kicked its residents out when the international organisations and private banks close for the weekend. But go against the grain and the centrepiece of French-speaking Switzerland will spoil you with excellent food, unbeatable bars and an adrenaline-fuelled way of getting to them.

The stay: Minutes from the airport but set in ten acres of tranquil gardens right on the shore of Lake Geneva, La Réserve offers the fresh air and relaxation of an alpine resort without the arduous journey. Tennis courts, a Nescens spa and personal trainers available on-demand make it easy to start the weekend on a healthy note. Wellness restaurant Café Lauren will even whip up avocado on gluten-free toast for after your workout, in a nod to the discerning French millennials who escape across the border at weekends for fresh air. Upstairs in the lobby, the permanent presence of a DJ and plenty of beards at the bar add a dose of hipster hedonism, which stop it feeling like a puritanical health resort.

The food: La Réserve Chinese restaurant Le Tsé Fung had a Michelin star bestowed on it last October but is impressively unpretentious; the service was low-key but faultless as we gorged our way through a seven-course set menu which included two types of peking duck, and washed it down with a bottle of Cos d’Estournel Blanc from the Bordeaux vineyard of the hotel’s owner, Michel Reybier.

Ask about: Venturing out of the hotel is always easier when there’s a glamorous speedboat to whisk you across the lake into the city centre. Free to all hotel guests with hourly departures from May-October, the motoscafo not only allows you to skip the traffic into town but provides the best view of Geneva’s 140m Jet d’Eau fountain. Hopping off at the Jardin Anglais gave us an opportunity to stroll along the harbourfront on the way to Bottle Brothers for organic wine and cocktails at big communal tables.

and after that? Geneva’s Musée d’art Moderne et Contemporain (MAMCO) is a treasure-trove of 20th century conceptual art in a warehouse conversion near the Plainpalais market, with a permanent collection which includes pieces by Gordon Matta-Clark, Christo and Jenny Holzer. The rather more traditional Patek Philippe museum is just round the corner and also worth a look.

Need to know: Junior suites at La Réserve cost from £1,060 per night, including breakfast and a daily spa treatment. For information visit lareserve.ch. MAMCO is open Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 6pm, and admission costs approximately £6; Bottle Brothers is at 12 Rue Henri-Blanvalet.

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