Marion Hume | August 3rd, 2011
Photos Courtesy of Le Richemond
Home. That’s what Le Richemond, Geneva feels like, although you may wish your home was this well appointed.
Geneva is a funny city to stay in, given its hotel population is a weird mix of the world’s activists attending conferences at any of the many UN agencies and the world’s wealthy visiting their bankers. Geneva is expensive-account-central-on-the-lake, with, frankly some very vile snazzy hotels and then the not-so-cheap lesser ones that somehow always smell of meat pies.
And then there’s Le Richemond, which is lovely.
It is a minute from the lake, but not quite on it (although there are panoramic blue views from the vast penthouse suite). Le Richemont is an old Geneva institution, once full of chintz, then, thank heavens, done up with that mix of subtlety and grandeur that is the hallmark of interior designer, Olga Polizzi, the sister of hospitality tsar, Sir Rocco Forte.
Rocco Forte Hotels has just sold Le Richemond to The Dorchester Group but no one expects things to change much. The hotel already has the city’s most intimate underground spa (and we do love a spa in Switzerland where the treatments have to be excellent - this because both the locals and the
Middle Eastern customers who move here to escape the summer desert heat are so fantastically demanding). The hotel’s lobby and restaurant are already well designed. And as for the rooms, Sir Rocco’s obsession is bathrooms, so they are splendid.
I once spent a morning with Sir Rocco as he walked me around Browns Hotel in London, pointing out the things -he- looks for.
1. A hotel must be big enough, yet small enough - too small and it can feel too clubby; too big and impeccable service might suffer.
2. A great concierge (and having left Le Richemond to fly back to London only to have to return within the hour because all planes to London were grounded, I can vouch for the calm and charming organizational skills of Emanuel at Le Richemond).
3. Is the bedroom reading light well placed and bright enough?
4. Do the windows open, because if that is possible, guests like it.
5. Big power shower, great products (REN grapefruit shower gel, thank you very much).
6. Spacious closets.
7. The key think I took away from my walk-through was the desire to save up for best queen sized mattress by Hypnose beds (not quite there yet) and 300 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets by Gastaldi, Italy (not quite there yet either).
What I do at Le Richemond is close to nothing, given it is a luxurious bolt hole after work. However, should you choose to learn something on your Swiss stay, what could be more apt than taking advantage of the hotels warm relationship with Roger Pfund, one of world’s leading bank note designers and possessed of a rather suitable name for that line of work.
I’m told Mr Pfund meets hotel guests to teach all about note design, security and anti-counterfeiting techniques. Compared to those Moroccan cookery classes other hotels usually try to attract guests with, this initiative sounds like you might actually get your money’s worth.
Le Richemond Hotel, Jardin Brunswick, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland. +41 22 715 7000; www.lerichemond.com