A unique blend of Swiss refinement

Alex Deane
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The well-heeled traveller automatically thinks of the imposing Dolder Grand when staying in Switzerland’s financial centre. He is wrong to do so.

Filling nine lovingly restored, historic townhouses in the very heart of Zurich, the Widder Hotel is a deluxe little hotel in a quiet street just off Bahnhoffstrasse, the top class shopping street. The effort that has gone into preserving beautiful original features while creating a genuinely first class hotel over the past fifteen years is quite extraordinary. The oldest parts of the little complex are the twelfth century walls in the library. The gothic window alcoves, the carvings and the (working) fireplaces that the buildings have accrued since those walls were built are retained without in any way impairing the Swiss-clock efficiency of the hotel.

There’s a gym, function rooms and a business centre equipped just as they should be. The concierge knows every twist and turn of his city. There’s wireless throughout. But the point about this hotel is the extras, not the ticked boxes.

Guests are issued with personalised, attractively printed business cards with your direct line and the hotel’s details, to give to contacts if you wish whilst you’re in Zurich. Each suite comes with a courtesy iPad for the duration of your stay. The Bang and Olufson sound system in each room is perfect. Eames chairs unique to the hotel are in each room.

And you’re treated like a grown-up here. The windows actually open (the soundproofing is total when they’re closed – and the only noise is the sound of church bells anyway). One can smoke in one’s room, and – a vociferous non-smoker being with me on our stay – I can say that there’s genuinely no smell of smoke in rooms later. There is provision made for smokers as well as non-smokers in the hotel’s three restaurants. The bar features the country’s biggest collection of single malts, and hosts (good) jazz nightly, which can only be heard in the bar; you simply wouldn’t know it was going on in any other room. The hotel is spotlessly clean.

Each aspect of decoration is selected to suit each room, each of which has been tailored uniquely by a designer. Each of the nine houses has its own subtle but distinct style and atmosphere, from the hand-carved curlicues to the individually designed doors and rich paintings. This is a hotel that remembers and values every detail of décor and of your stay. This is the antithesis of the standard large luxury hotel with identikit rooms and identikit staff – and it is all the better for that. It cannot be recommended more highly.

Rooms from 560 CHF (£380) per night– details available onine: www.widderhotel.ch