Zurich: Where to Seek Relaxation, Savor, Sip, Shop, and Sightsee
Already a leader in the financial world, Zurich is also home to a large number of research and development centers, world renowned museums, cultural and art events, designer shopping, and fabulous restaurants. Zurich has been noted as one of the most livable cities, with world-class rail and boat transportation, and some of the most glorious scenery around.
With direct connections available from the U.S. (such as Edelweiss Airlines’ weekly flights from Las Vegas), one can find a myriad of exquisitely interesting and entertaining things to do in a city that boasts one of the highest quality of life rankings in the world. Traveling to Zurich via the rail system was seamless as we made our way across the verdant countryside. We were quickly taken aback at this major train station that was interlinked with the city tram system, which made moving about the city and the country easy and effortless. The statue of Swiss Politician Alfred Escher — who, in the mid-1800s, implemented and developed the Swiss infrastructure of travel, banking, and education — is indeed an appropriate icon to welcome you into this fair city.
Upon our arrival in the bustling main train station, we were met by the hotel’s energetic and helpful driver. We were then escorted to the newly opened Atlantis by Giardino hotel for a two-night stay that offered five-star services on every level. Conveniently located 8.8 miles away from Zurich Airport, 3.1 miles from the Main Railway Station Zurich, and 2.7 miles the from the famous Bahnhofstrasse shopping street, the Atlantis provides easy access for traveling pleasure. Having the hotel situated at the bottom of the lovely Uertliberg Mountain also meant easy access to outdoor trails for running, hiking, and electric bike riding (the hotel does have the highest quality electric bikes to lend upon prior request) as well. The original hotel was the creation of Annemarie and Hans Hubacher and Peter Issler, who designed the building in the ‘60s and opened it in the 1970s with a celebrated history of famous politicians, actors, singers, and athletes who made their stay at this popular Zurich hot spot. With Creative Director Inge Moore of London design company The Gallery HBA at the Helm, the Atlantis by Giardino was renovated in December 2015 and has evolved into a sparkling gem for future generations of discriminating travelers.
In keeping with the close contact with the forest around the hotel, the fabrics and wallpaper reflect the grandeur of nature, with the sweeping crystal light fixtures reminiscent of flying birds immediately draw your attention to the open and inviting concierge desk. Dark parquet flooring and textiles embossed with leather and mohair keep an air of nostalgia from the hotel’s celebratory history. Now with 95 rooms, the designers at Swiss Monoplan AG have embellished on the original design with modern flair and exquisite style. Suites are also available for long term stays. With the newest technology, a 15-meter indoor pool, and an outdoor pool that was being renovated to an incredible 70 meters, there are a myriad of options for staying fit while away from your favorite gym. For those who want to relax and rejuvenate, the Atlantis Spa facilities will meet your every need. The Spa features three treatment rooms and several outstanding product lines, including Dipui, which is the official brand for all the Giardino hotels, entirely organic, and made in Germany to insure freshness and prompt delivery.
The new Hublot suite pays homage to luxury and Swiss perfection. Designed by Swiss company Studioforma, the large pop-art-style Hublot watch painting within the entrance of the suite immediately catches your attention with bold primary colors, and the ceiling light fixture is made to resemble the inner workings of a giant clock. With several exquisite time pieces showcased in protective glass throughout the suite, you will see why the Swiss are known for their superb watches — and you’ll value every minute spent in this luxury suite.
Dining at the Atlantis is a must with the elegant 80-seat Hide & Seek. Award-winning executive chef Bastian Mantey and his staff serve fresh, local ingredients in favorites such as the veal cheek with lemongrass, potato mousseline, and roasted pear. The breakfast buffet is also outstanding, with a nutritious and varied menu, and something available for all cuisine cravings — including the wide assortment of cheeses, homemade breads, fresh fruit and juices, and, of course, Champagne.
To complete the ambient scale of dining at the Atlantis, Ecco is must-stop for those seeking gastronomy excellence. With chef Rolf Fliegauf already earning two-star Michelin ratings for both of his restaurants Ecco Ascona and Ecco St. Moritz, Ecco at the Atlantis has a most impressive culinary foundation. And with the assistance of his former sous chef Stefan Heilemann, the newest Ecco is destined to share the same notoriety. In fact, it has already been voted as having the best wine list in Switzerland twice. For those seeking a night of dining with the A-list of culinary geniuses, this is the place to make your reservation.
After a remarkable dinner, having a cocktail is a must, especially when Switzerland’s top bar chef, Taweechai Pruktayanont, is now at the helm. With panoramic backdrops of the twinkling lights of Zurich, chef Pruktayanont will make you a cocktail that you’ll never forget. Try a smoke-infused version of the classic aviation cocktail (click here for a recipe!) or a Manhattan served in a glass inverted in an ice goblet. Pruktayanont is a stickler for using the freshest ingredients to bring out the essences and flavors that can often be masked by alcohol. Take your lovely libation to the elegant cigar lounge with a state-of-the-art ventilation system where you can indulge in a cigar as you sip on your classic cocktail. By bringing the best in service and expertise to every area of dining and relaxing, Atlantis keeps pace with the rigors and demands of a five-star experience.
For those wanting to dine outside of the hotel at some traditional local favorites, we suggest the Zunfthaus Zur Waag. Located in the lovely town square, this is an absolute jewel in the heart of Zurich’s city center, and it faces the Fraumunster church that adorns the famous Chagall windows. This historic building dates back to 1315 and gives you a rare glimpse into the history and the heart of Switzerland. Noted for serving the most authentic Swiss dishes and some of the best Swiss wines, this is place that should not be missed.
Another little-known jewel to add to your stay is a boat ride on Lake Zurich to the Hablinsel Au. This locale is indeed a place of verdant grandeur, featuring sweeping lake views, a park, a restaurant, and a hotel — so you can stroll, take in the views, grab a bite, or just relax and take a nap.
Zurich is indeed a major transportation hub in Switzerland, but don’t jump on a train too fast for other parts of this spectacular country without checking out some of Zurich’s lovely offerings and venues. With a rich and interesting history, Zurich is a place that should indeed be on your travel agenda.