Why should I go now?
Switzerland’s lowland lake district has cast off its winter shroud of snow and ice, the sun is higher in the sky, and the green, flower-laden meadows by Lake Geneva contrast spectacularly with the still-white mountains lining the distance.
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La Réserve has the pleasant distinction of being a city resort hotel in the countryside. Ridiculously close to Geneva airport – a ten minute drive on average – it somehow escapes any aircraft noise, and is located in its own grounds on the edge of the city, with a big outdoor pool and garden area and a beautiful view across Lake Geneva towards Mont Blanc. It’s a 15 minute taxi ride to the centre of the city – or you can take the hotel’s own boat service along the lake, which is even quicker, and much more scenic.
La Réserve is part of a small, uber-chic group of hotels owned by the French entrepreneur Michel Reybier; other properties are outside St Tropez (with an unmatched view across the bay there) and two in Paris. Reybier also owns the legendary Bordeaux wine estate Chateau Cos d’Estournel, as well as numerous other businesses.
What’s the lowdown?
Michel Reybier has given La Réserve a contemporary, sexy opulence which is quite a contrast to Geneva’s traditional grande-dame luxury hotels like the Four Seasons; as you walk in, you are enveloped in oriental colours and a dark, mysterious vibe; it’s a hotel that makes you want to settle down immediately in the sprawling bar area (immediately in front of you as you walk in) with a bottle of Louis Roederer.
Depending on when you make it to La Réserve, there is an extensive and thoroughly Cote d’Azur-like outdoor pool, bar, terrace and garden area with sweeping views towards the lake and the Alps. Geneva’s weather is not quite as reliable as St Tropez, but not to worry. The jewel in La Reserve’s crown is the huge, opulent spa area, with a significant indoor lap pool, and lots of space to relax – as well as the kind of super-gym you might expect from this kind of hotel, with a glass wall to ensure anyone walking past feels extra guilty.
Did we say the spa and pool area was the jewel in La Réserve’s crown? Wait – we meant the Chinese restaurant. In keeping with the Oriental vibe, Tsé Fung is a Michelin-starred restaurant with an extensive Cantonese menu and wine list including, as one would expect, an excellent array of Chateau Cos d’Estournel vintages. (The spicy elegance of Cos would be one of the few Bordeaux wines to be able to match a number of dishes on the menu.) The cuisine and ambience could have been lifted out of Hong Kong, together with its moneyed beau-monde clientele whispering sweet nothings to each other. We witnessed a young gentleman and young lady who had plainly been set up by their (presumably significant) Swiss families on their first arranged date; modesty prevents us from revealing any of their conversation, but let’s just say that LUX expects an invitation to their wedding.
Rooms continue the super-chic, Oriental vibe; we had a suite (which really was a suite, unlike some: two separate rooms) whose living room and balcony were just begging for some marriage proposal action (see above). The bathroom was huge and lavish, and everything felt like Valentine’s Day.
La Réserve succeeds so spectacularly in being a resort hotel, relaxing all the senses and luring you to enjoy it, that if you are here on business (as we were) you might find it had to concentrate. Having said that, we just found it a fabulous tonic and a perfect concept for today’s always on, work/play traveller.
Rates: From CHF 550 (approx. €450/ £400 / $600 )