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A capital delight

While politicians flock to the Bundeshaus, our beauty expert is drawn to another one of the capital’s attractions, and she’s ready to cast her vote on Bern’s top spa at the Schweizerhof Hotel. Quiet, everybody, there’s a beauty session underway!

Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Winter 2023 2024 A Capital Delight Schweizerhof Bern Spa Stadtblick Ecirgb T236
Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Winter 2023 2024 A Capital Delight Hotel Schweizerhof Bern Spa Spa Bilder Eci RGB

Having been picked up by a luxury limousine, a zippy electric car and even a horse-drawn carriage, the transfer from the train station to the spa hotel I’d chosen has never been quite as short and direct as arriving at the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & Spa. Part of the Katara Hospitality owned Bürgenstock Selection, this legend of Swiss hospitality can look back at over 160 years of history and is located directly opposite Bern’s main station. On the hot, late-summer day of my visit, all it takes is literally a few steps until I can duck into the cool shade of the arcade and enter the hotel. This is a special visit for me, not only because I’ve been wanting to check out the Schweizerhof spa for ages, but also because I’d managed to convince my lovely mother, a sprightly 78-year-old, to join me for a mother-daughter trip with almost zero travel stress, thanks to her first-class upgrade of our train tickets (you never quite grow out of saying,‘Thanks, mum!’).

Boasting an impressive 99 rooms, all elegantly outfitted by interior designer Maria Lafiadis, the Schweizerhof is spread over what were once three different buildings, but now make a cohesive, luxuriously-carpeted single unit. Our junior suite on the fifth floor was quiet, comfortable and allowed for a good night’s sleep, as well as enough room for the many outfits and beauty products we had brought along for our short stay. But first, we had made dinner reservations – and honestly, as a beauty lover who also enjoys good food, I was very much looking forward to a meal at Jack’s Brasserie.

The historic restaurant with its fin-de-siècle atmosphere is wonderfully luxurious, and we felt truly spoiled by the unobtrusive staff, who – on this relatively quiet, weekday evening in late summer, took their time commending the day’s specials, tending to our needs (why, a second glass of the recommended Crémant sounds lovely!) and even having a quick chat with Head Chef Thierry Glauser. My mother, after charmingly insisting that a Wienerschnitzel would be far too big for her to manage alone, did an impressive job in nearly finishing her ladies’ size cutlet, agreeing with many other guests that it may be one of Switzerland’s best, while my glazed monkfish was a fresh, tangy delight. A quick nightcap up on Schweizerhof’s Sky Terrace, the modern rooftop restaurant and bar, is simply a must, featuring panoramic views, and in the wintertime, guests can enjoy a cosy raclette here, wrapped up in warm blankets. Oh, speaking of warm blankets… I’ve got to get ready for the main reason for my stay!

If Zurich’s Paradeplatz is famed for concealing an underground Aladdin’s treasure trove of gold, then for me, the Bahnhofplatz in Bern simply hides one of the city’s best-equipped spas. An impressive 500sqm in size, the hotel spa was opened in 2011 and includes three treatment rooms, a hammam, a beautifully laid-out Finnish sauna, and perhaps most surprisingly, an indoor pool with bubble loungers, experience showers and jacuzzi jets. As massage therapist Liviu was already expecting me, I made a note to come and enjoy the facilities the following evening – which I can warmly recommend, as the spa is open to hotel guests until 9 p.m. After my full-body massage with honey (see my Signature Treatment Tip), I’m handed over to facialist Vivien for a uniquely relaxing facial with the spa’s chosen organic beauty brand Pharmos Natur. As part of a 75-minute treatment, the facial includes a massage with freshly-cut aloe vera gel, leaving my face as rested and glowing as my (newly-released) back feels.

Words Steffi Hidber

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