STAY in Zurich:
All show and all the substance - the Alden holds what it promises from its looks. It is a recently renovated fin-de-siècle artwork with state-of-the-art amenities. There is the classical cosy library with brown leather sofas and golden grandfather clock. There is the presidential suite in pastel and with textile-covered chairs and the ceiling features stucco, of course. There is the Piano Bar with heavy chandeliers above your glass with Hennessy and clinking ice cubes. The modern side of the hotel features the restaurant, a mixture of state-of-the-art and antique, garnished with fresh ingredients from the organic market, dominated by innovative cuisine. On the rooms you find the cutting-edge technology every modern hotel subscribes to today: high-speed internet, flat-screen, WLAN. There are whirlpools and there is the fitness equipment of your choice. But the hotel is old, of course: the walls are old, the structure is old. But that old does not equal outdated is proven by the Alden. Above all the hospitality is classical. Double room from 290 Euros per night.
Everything's a bit artsy here, a bit casual and easy-going. The Hotel Seegarten adapts to the vicinity of the lake, pouring oil on troubled water with its famous calm before the storm. The Seefeld district is not a quiet one, after all. Many bars, stores and galleries demand a high degree of shopping discipline, weigh heavy on credit cards and make visitors dizzy with shopping frenzy. We recommend you keep your nerve and quickly check into the Seegarten Hotel because there you will be able to catch your breath. Its Mediterranean flair, its rattan furniture and the terracotta floors make the world appear much more relaxed. No wonder that the hotel became a pilgrimage shrine for the stressed-out. Among the media and advertising trades the hotel enjoys great popularity. Apart from its nice atmosphere you can also enjoy delicious culinary treats dished up by Restaurant Latino, very leisurely and stress-free, of course. You will seldom find a more uncomplicated hotel than the Seefeld in clockwork Switzerland. Double rooms from 187 Euros per night.
A butcher's shop in the past, the hotel today serves breakfast until 16:00 daily. Are all the guests late risers? Perhaps. But it might have something to do with the rooms' names as well: "Williams", "Kirsche", "Zwätschgge", "Pflümli" or "Quitte" forebode nothing good (being names of schnapps altogether). Is the Kafischnaps a hotel for alcoholics? No, it's not. While the rooms are named after schnapps types, you don't get a hangover from the lovingly decorated rooms. Beyond pompous luxury chains one is devoted to working with the things that are within reach - and has a toast on them. Speaking about "beyond": While the Kafischnaps is not located in the direct centre, prices are beyond those of rents in the popular district. And if you have missed out on breakfast you can still enjoy the puff paste pies with hearty filling and have schnapps with them in a relaxed atmosphere. The sights can wait. Double room from approx. 36 Euros per night.
SIGHTS in Zurich:
The photographer Ganz once built the first residential building here when the street was still unheard of. People thought he was crazy. Today, you would see dollar signs in his eyes if you think of the horrendous rental prices here. You have to pay some 4,000 Swiss Francs per square metre and year today, if you want to live in Europe's most expensive district. Money lies in and under the street here. The renowned Swiss banks have conquered this place in the sun, stashing away the money that makes the world go round underneath. But not only Credit Suisse and Zurich National Bank are worth visiting the street but also the magnificent Art Nouveau buildings. And where elsewhere houses mushroom up together with soaring prices, Zurich implemented strict building regulations. All the houses are 18 metres high, not more and not less than that. Swiss precision work? Sure, and in addition to the monumental facades accommodating banking secrecy, you'll find 2,500 metres of window shops, 180 stores and 200 lime trees. You won't find more elegance elsewhere.
In the beginning there was a moraine hill: There, the Romans built a customs post that should become Zurich later on. Today, the moraine hill is called Lindenhof - and it is one of the most romantic spots in town. Loving couples meet here, and if you are not kissing for the moment, you might want to take a picture. The view of Limmatquai observatory and Grossmünster is unique. The many chess players around here are less interested in the view than in the essential thing: checkmate. And those who feel thirsty after having climbed up here can refresh themselves at the Lindenhof fountain constructed in commemoration of an incredible story: In 1291 an Austrian Duke had lured the Swiss Army to another spot believing he could conquer the city without resistance now. But at the Lindenhof another army was already waiting for him - and he left frustrated. What he didn't know was that women were hiding in the armour, who led the Swiss to victory. And the Lindenhof fountain still stands here in memory of this event, stimulating kisses and photographs with its ripple.
Jeremie Maret, Lenny Staples and Christian Weber are the initiators of The Proposal in a Zurich backyard in the district Wiedikon. Since autumn 2011 the gallery has been housing new art projects - proposals, that is creative offers and suggestions which are both pool for ideas for further artistic works as well as exhibition objects on sale. In the past there has been a big, ballooned plastic man who filled the whole gallery space, towered up europallets in the courtyard symbolising the quest for meaning in life or faint freckles on textiles. Until summer 2012 The Proposal exhibits three more proposals followed by a retrospective. Beside its function as exhibition space The Proposal also serves as a Bed & Breakfast for up to four guests. They sleep either in the room right next or also in the exhibition, or in a Peugeot bus J7 from 1977, located in the courtyard.
EAT in Zurich:
Aura in the Alte Börse in Zurich stands for a restaurant, bar, smoker's lounge and big event hall. It's the work area inhabited by Joachim Karsten, well-known in the city for his work at Tao's on Bahnhofstraße which was given a European-Asian cuisine by him. At Aura in the financial districts it's a bit more meaty - BBQ specials (like blade steak, bison filet or burger) are grilled on the open barbecue in front of the guests' eyes, according to the guests' wishes. Fish lovers' palates are tickled by salmon steaks, zander filets or lobster with tomato-basil-butter. And for dessert (which by the way opens the menu) they serve apple-blueberry-clafouits or caramel flan. This meal wants to be digested well - that's why you head to the second floor of the venue - to the Smoker's Lounge or the bar. By the way, Aura has been furnished by Evelyne Haussener. She is mother of the CEO of the Tao group that - apart from Aura - comprises Tao as well as the clubs Indochine and Icon.
Who made it here made it everywhere. No, we are not talking about New York but about Zurich. To be precise, we are talking about cheese fondues in Zurich. This Helvetian specialty is heavy stuff - heavy too eat because melted cheese sticks and heavy to digest because you feel the fondue's effect even days afterwards. And yet, if you don't honour the Caquelon you are not worth to visit Switzerland. The fondue pot is a must for all Swiss, and if you want to become a cheese adept you have to visit the Fribourger Fonduestübli. You'll pay some 20 Francs for it but considering the quantity that's not really bad. Besides, you've saved your next meal, for sure. Bread with fondue is important but you won't be able to eat the pearl onions and forget about the potatoes. Tough ones go for a mousse au chocolat afterwards but all the others ask for the digestif card and choose the one that has the best effect. If you regret your decision be assured: The Fonduestübli has been melting cheese for 30 years, so you will survive!
Balance is the key - Indians have known that for 5,000 years. If you stick to this method and eat Ayurveda, you are in line with the universe. That's the idea behind the Restaurant Mohini, completely devoted to striving for harmony. And that's how it is done: Chef de Cuisine Valentin Schmid puts everything that the tongue can discern as taste in the pot, mixing bitter, sweet, hot, salty and sour in the right proportion. While he is the last to taste the meals, he keeps them hot three hours maximum, serving them only for lunch, because one shouldn't eat in the evening, and if at all, only light stuff. But lighter is not possible anyway: Zucchini with coriander, organic rice with tofu and mint tea make nutritionists hearts leap higher, promising meals that make guests find their balance, for sure. And if they haven't found it yet, the energy gained from so many vegetables is just fine for another city tour. Meat eaters, by the way, need not have a bad conscience: Ayurveda allows beef and other meats on the plate, however, only for the very sick and the emaciated. The Mohini, however, does not offer nursing services and is strictly vegetarian.
SHOPPING in Zurich:
It's so typical: When you finally have time to read a book on your vacation, it's a boring book you've taken along. Either you've bought it somewhere shortly before your departure or you wanted to brag with it because it looked so good. Here comes our tip: The Orell Füssli Bookstore is centrally located and sells books that look good. Also the inside looks good. The specialist for design, photography and architecture has anything that makes the hearts of art fans leap, from Andreas Gursky to Adolf Loos or to essays on genuine British cottages. And if you are in no hurry you enjoy coffee over Helmut Newton and talk shop with your neighbour from the other table. But if you are no friend of coffee-table books you will also find literature at Orell Füssli, along with books on Switzerland and a selection of French books at that.
The Boutique Roma has style, i.e. Belgian and not Italian style. While the name is somewhat misguiding, you may rest assured: What you buy here has a name. And a big one at that. You'll find Dries van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester here. And they are not alone because Roma also hosts international designers together with the Belgian ones, Junya Watanabe, Rick Owens or Haider Ackermann among them. If you have found the fitting noble outfit you can also leave your old sandals here. The new shoes come from Shoto, Fitzroy and Camper, the bags from Sak and Numero 10. And while SHE lives out her shopping frenzy, HE is also offered the fitting designer wear. Boutique Roma offers Royal Shirt, The Viridi-Anne and Georgio Brato for men. Once you leave the store you've shopped in three countries: Belgian designers on Swiss ground and with Italian names.
The bulky pelican in the label is fortunately not a guideline for the men's styling who stop by Pelikamo in Zurich. They rather come into the former bank house - only a few minutes away from Bahnhofstraße and the tradespersons - because of the straight menswear by Mismo, Lavenham, Aesop or Pelikamo. There are bilious green pants lying next to the pink sweater and the moss-green loafers - and everything looks impeccable. Evidently a woman had a hand in the store concept. Together with three men Mia Zeltner has opened Pelikamo in 2011. Apart from garments they also offer tartly scented candles and whiskey from a Swiss distillery. Between the fittings they let their male customers sit on the retro sofa and give them magazines to read - to reflect over certain matters. Randy Kündig, the kind soul at Pelikamo will bring an espresso. It might be possible that the suit trousers will still not fit after that. But that shouldn't be a problem as the in-house tailor will change the garment or make a new pair for you.