Tried & Tested

Hotel check: The Dolder Grand, Zurich

26 Feb 2009 by Mark Caswell

The Dolder GrandWhat’s it like? Perched on the hillside above Zurich’s city centre, the original Dolder Grand hotel and curhaus (health spa) opened in 1899. Over the next 100 years, the property saw a number of alterations, including the dubious addition of a 1960’s-style block which was at odds with the rustic, turreted main building.

The hotel was closed for four years between 2004 and April 2008 for a complete renovation, with all of the additions since the original opening being demolished, and architects Foster and Partners creating two new Spa and Golf Wings which curve around the back of the historic building.

There is a real feeling of exclusivity as you approach the hotel by car up a steep, windy road through the wealthy districts of Zurich and arriving at the main entrance gives you fabulous views of the lake below.

Where is it? Around 20 minutes from Zurich airport and five minutes’ drive from the city centre. The resort also has its own tram station, Bergstation Dolderbahn, with connections to the centre of Zurich. The hotel also offers guests a regular shuttle service to and from the city.Superior room at the Dolder Grand

Room facilities The hotel’s 173 rooms and suites are spread across the original main building and the two new wings, the difference being that the décor of those in the main building has a more traditional feel. All feature Bang and Olufsen TVs with CD and DVD players, operated by an intriguing wireless controller (which looks more like a computer console) that also operates everything from the lights and air conditioning, to the electronic curtains, and has the ability to change the direction of the TV screen remotely. Free wired and wifi internet access is available to all guests.

As you would expect from a luxury hotel like the Dolder, the rooms are built with high-quality materials, from the heavy soundproof doors to the dark wood flooring. The bathrooms are also impressive, with multi-jet showers and separate bathtubs, while Junior suites and above are also fitted with steam showers and whirlpool bathtubs, and some of the suites even have their own saunas.

All rooms in the new wings have balconies, as do all Deluxe rooms and above in the main building. Views vary depending on room type, with Superior rooms looking towards the forest. Deluxe rooms and above look south, with the best views of the city, lakes and the Alps to be had from the Junior suites and above.

A suite at the Dolder GrandAs well as the 48 Junior suites and seven suites, there are four individually designed “top” suites: the Carezza suite on the top floor of the Spa Wing featuring a terrace running around the entire suite; the 1950’s-influenced Masina suite complete with billiard table; the Rolling Stones-inspired Suite 100, and the 400-sqm two-tier Maestro suite in the tower of the main building.

Restaurants and bars The hotel has two restaurants, as well as a lobby bar complete with original frescos and fireplace, live piano music, and a daily afternoon tea menu. The Dolder’s fine-dining restaurant (imaginatively titled the Restaurant) was awarded 17 Gault Millau points and one Michelin star at the end of 2008, and serves “light, modern dishes” including lobster with strawberries, and sole with sorrel, poppy seed and vanilla.

The walls of the 54-seat restaurant are covered in silver leaf, and there are private dining rooms, a lounge bar and a terrace area. Head chef Heiko Nieder has also recently created the first class menus on board Swiss’s long-haul flights. Meanwhile, the Garden Restaurant offers “light European cuisine”, including a buffet brunch on Sundays.The Restaurant at the Dolder Grand

Business and meeting facilities The two largest function rooms at the hotel are the 400-sqm, oval-shaped, cupola-topped ballroom attached to the back of the original building, and the 700-sqm Gallery located next to the Golf Wing (and the 240-space underground car park) which opened this year. There are also three Garden Salons on the ground floor of the main building that can be combined to provide 409 sqm of space, and which feature floor-to-ceiling windows and views over Zurich. Finally, there are five breakout rooms, and two British-style Libraries next to the hotel’s bar for meetings and cocktail receptions.

Leisure facilities The Dolder has an array of leisure options including five sand tennis courts (available from April to October), a nine-hole golf course and separate mini-golf green, an open-air swimming pool, and an ice rink during winter. However, the highlight of the Dolder’s leisure facilities is undoubtedly the fantastic 4,000 sqm Spa Wing.

The seemingly endless list of facilities includes separate male and female spa areas with saunas, steam baths, “cooling down showers”, aroma pools, relaxation areas with fireplaces, and stand-up solariums. Communal areas include a 25-metre indoor pool, indoor and outdoor whirlpools, a sanarium, a “snow paradise” (the opposite of a sauna with ice to cool guests down), “sunaburos” (Japanese-inspired tubs filled with warm pebbles for guests to relax on top of), a meditation room, a fitness centre, two studios for courses including yoga and Pilates, a medical wellness centre, a café, a shop, a hairdresser and a library with literature on health and wellbeing.

Swimming pool at the Dolder GrandThere are 19 treatment rooms and two suites offering a variety of “European and Swiss therapies with traditional Japanese influences”. Among these is the Bamboo Shiatsu (210 Fr/£125 for 60 minutes). I tried this and if I’m honest, the bamboo element of the therapy is a slight misnomer as it effectively consisted of me being tapped on the shoulders three times with a bamboo brush at the start of the session, but the shiatsu itself was extremely effective, leaving me feeling both less tense and more alert.

Verdict It is hard to fault a hotel which has seamlessly combined the historical with stylish new wings and superb leisure facilities. This sort of luxury doesn’t come cheap, but if your budget allows for it, this is a great hotel within easy reach of Zurich’s business centre.

Fact file

How many rooms? There are 173 including 15 singles, 99 doubles, 48 junior suites, seven suites and four top suites.

Room highlights The high-tech in-room entertainment offering, the beautiful balcony with views of the city (in certain rooms), and excellent bathroom facilities.

Price Rates for 2009 start from 540 Fr (£321) for a single room and 870 Fr (£518) for a double room, while entry-level Junior suites begin at 1,150 Fr (£685).

Contact The Dolder Grand, Kurhausstrasse 65; tel +41 444 566 000; thedoldergrand.com.

Mark Caswell

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