Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

3 Mar 2017 by Jenny Southan
Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

BACKGROUND

A member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, this five-star independent opened its doors in March 2015. The new-build modern block is located in a peaceful (if a little desolate) business park outside the city centre, and was conceived by hotelier Carsten Rath, founder and CEO of the Kameha Grand.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The property is defined as a “lifestyle” hotel, with facilities that cater not only to the primary needs of business people, but how they spend their free time – there are cigar and shisha lounges, fine-dining restaurants, a spa and themed suites (Watchmaker suite, Oriental suite and so on). There is no formal reception in the lobby – just a couple of kiosks where you can either check-in virtually or with the help of a member of staff.

The quirky and, at times, surreal, interiors have been designed by Marcel Wanders. Although there are many literal connections to things Switzerland is famous for (there are meeting venues wallpapered in chocolate, giant cow bells hanging from the ceiling and bank vault minibars), you’ll also discover a striking French-Asian restaurant, a futuristic staircase with a red carpet leading from the lobby, and a Space suite designed by a wannabe astronaut.

It’s far from bland, and maybe a little much for people with more conservative tastes, but it’s good fun, and fitted out to a high spec. It would really come into its own during events, when traditional “blank canvas” interiors add nothing the occasion. Instead, there is a lot of scope to lay on something memorable, with the added benefit of being close to the airport for people flying in.

Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

WHERE IS IT?

In the emerging Glattpark district – a planned neighbourhood being populated with cutting-edge offices and residential buildings in Opfikon. The airport is just 5km to the north, while Zurich’s central station is 6km south. Whereas central Zurich itself is very walkable, if you are based at the Kameha Grand, you will have to get taxis everywhere. There is not much in the way of restaurants or bars, for example, in the local area so you will be at least 15 minutes away from the nearest good fondue spot.

ROOM FACILITIES

For security, lifts, which serve six floors, are activated by key card. Premium and Deluxe rooms, which make up the majority of the room count, may not be as daring as some of the themed suites certainly look original. Sliding doors to the bathroom are papered in such a way as to look like slabs of chocolate, with bank vault handles, and walls behind the bed are decorated in black and white papercut-style illustrations. Floors are swathed in Persian rugs and crystal chandeliers have from the ceiling. It’s eclectic, to say the least. But with outdated sheer curtains covering the windows, also a little cold somehow.

Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

Along with kettles and Nespresso coffee machines in each room, there are fridges that can be stocked with minibar packages on request, and 24-hour room service. Two free bottles of water are provided every day. There are US, EU and USB plug sockets by the bed and workdesk, free wifi, air conditioning, safes, and minimalist bathrooms with freestanding tubs, rainshowers and Molton Brown bathing products. Deluxe rooms and upwards have twin sinks.

On the second floor are six 37 sqm Business suites with conference tables that can seat up to half a dozen people and swivel TVs for presentations. These are an interesting, innovative option for corporate travellers – the problem is you will need to have a good tidy up before your clients come over because there is a view of the bed from the boardroom. There are also similar-looking 44 sqm Executive suites.

The themed suites are also worth a look – they are a bit gimmicky but some come with genuinely great facilities as a consequence. Those that stand out are the 60 sqm Gentleman suite, which has a roulette table and whiskey trolley, the Workout suite (mentioned below), and the 50 sqm Ghostwriter suite, which has a kitchenette. There Serenity suite is also a nice option, with its fresh white interiors and yoga mat provided.

Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

I stayed in the 115 sqm Space suit, which was feature on the cover of our March edition. (Subscribers can read my feature on how Zurich is becoming the Silicon Valley of robotics, here.) Designed by German artist and pioneer astronaut for Virgin Galactic, Michael Najjar, the Space suite is the coolest hotel room I have ever stayed in.

Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

With no windows, though, a cosmic soundscape playing from a widescreen TV panel, mirrored surfaces and interstellar carpet and ceiling, it’s a pretty disorientating experience. You really do feel as if you could be aboard the Space Station – even the bed is made to look as if it is floating.

Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

Protruding from a wall is an astronaut’s glove on which to place your phone, there’s silver leather furniture, a huge white walk-in wardrobe, digital prints of astronauts, a glowing red iPod in its own dock, model rockets, books on space travel and an iPad that will stream space-themed movies to your TV via Apple Airplay. I loved it all.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

Unlike in the UK, there is no ban preventing smoking indoors. Taking advantage of this, the hotel has created an opulent shisha lounge complete with multiple flatscreen TVs for if you become bored of conversing with your companions, and an adjoining cigar bar, with black leather Chesterfields and trendy glowing portraits of famous people (such as film director David Lynch). To call for a waiter, pull the chain.

Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

From here, you will find yourself in the Pure Gold bar, which is a lavish (although empty when I visited during the week) hangout where you can order gourmet cupcakes (worth trying), coffee and champagne. It’s open all day, from 9am until midnight (1am Friday and Saturday).

Following the curve of the bar will deliver you to the entrance of Italian restaurant L’Unico, which is also on the ground floor. It has attractive tilework and chestnut-coloured semi-circular banquettes, as well as smaller hardtop tables for couples further towards the back. In the morning an excellent breakfast buffet is displayed – pastries, seeded bread, cheese, juices, cold cuts, fresh fruit salad, cereals and various hot items such as scrambled egg that you can help yourself to.

Pop in for lunch or dinner and you can order up steaming plates of homemade pasta (including gluten-free and vegan options) with your a choice of sauce – pesto, carbonara, tartufo, Bolognese, pomodoro or aglio olio. Meat and fish comes with a declaration of origin – chicken is sourced from France, beef from Switzerland and prawns from Vietnam, for example.

Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

Opened originally as a Japanese restaurant, fine-dining You now serves French-Asian fusion cuisine and has earned one Michelin star. Unfortunately it was closed during my visit but it open for lunch and dinner, with dishes such as braised eel with spinach, beetroot and horseradish, and US beef with shallots, black salsify and liquorice.

Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

There are 13 function rooms in total, all with natural light, and three outdoor terraces for up to 240 delegates on the largest. Just off the lobby is the “Wall of Fame” break-out space with photos of glamorous-looking guests and the odd celeb framed on the wall. There are three dedicated conference venues on the ground level (Kameha Dark, Kameha Milk and Kameha Blond), the latter two of which can be split in half. Kameha Dark, the largest, can host up to 210 people.

Upstairs is the huge Kameha Dome ballroom, which has pixelated black and white tiling across the walls and floors, crimson drapery and floor-to-ceiling windows. A maximum of 960 people can be accommodated in here, as well as on a deck outside. There is underground parking for 66 cars.

Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

LEISURE FACILITIES

Unless you are booked into the Workout suite, which comes with its own slick free weights (that look like bullets) and gym equipment, you will need to use the hotel gym, which is open 24 hours a day. It isn’t big but there is an amusing video installation of a hamster running in a wheel that you can stare at while you pound away.

There is also a spa (open 2pm-1pm weekdays, 10pm-1pm weekends) that has four treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge and sauna/steam rooms. Outside is a roof terrace for sunbathing in the summer.

Hotel check: Kameha Grand, Zurich

VERDICT

If you are looking for somewhere different to stay, that is also part of a chain, then the Kameha Grand is a good choice. It is well set up for business people but is a little wacky and futuristic, which is refreshing, although not everyone will like it. The downside is the district is pretty soulless and makes central Zurich less accessible. Staff were friendly and unpretentious. Reasonable rates can be found.

FACT FILE:

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 245 rooms. Of these, there are 105 Premium rooms, 119 Deluxe rooms and 21 suites, 13 of which are themed.

HIGHLIGHTS The Space suite is phenomenal. The extensive event space, quirky interiors, cigar lounge and Michelin-starred restaurant are all standout features.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in April started from SFr 210 (£170) for a Premium room.

CONTACT Kameha Grand, Dufaux-Strasse 1, Glattpark, Zurich; tel +41 44 525 5000; kamehagrandzuerich.com

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