STAY in Zurich:
The Hotel Zürichberg is well off with its top location: on a hill above the town, amidst rolling hills, meadows and woods, with a terrific view of Zurich and the lake. Here, guests can rest and recreate, protected from noise and stress. The Art Nouveau building's façade hides what awaits you inside: top-class design. Noble parquet floors, shades in mauve and red and great designers such as Arne Jacobsen and Jasper Morrison forebode only good things for a good night's sleep. And late sleepers and caffeine junkies have only to steps to walk before reaching their own Nespresso machine on their room. While George Clooney is not included, the noble Restaurant R21 has other goodies in store. The Mediterranean cuisine is almost as attractive as George. We recommend a glass of champagne on the breathtaking terrace of Zürichberg and lots of idleness. And if that's not enough for you, you can also set out on a discovery trip in the woods behind the hotel. Double room from 219 Euros per night.
The Kindli is one of these honest hotels one likes to visit and likes to leave again. And one likes to remind it. Here, they've been in the hospitality business for 500 years already. While in former times the pious ones with their very pious thoughts flocked to the Christian hospice and its very pious landlord, today's guests wash away their sins on Grander water. They put their heads on Hästens pillows and pray that their credit cards last through their shopping sprees at Zurich's top designers around the corner. But also the restaurant is worth its price: While the Mediterranean-inspired cuisine has not much room for tight belts, it has made room for Hanny Fries, whose pictures are on the restaurant's wall. On the wine card you find the noblest champagne as well as red and white wines from all over the world. One thing for sure: With its fountain in front of the windows, its Laura Ashley style and the church bells in the morning, the Kindli is one of the most romantic hotels in town. Whether it's still as pious as in former times we can't say. Double room from 277 Euros per night.
And here's another hotel of the Swiss private label "Come in and feel good". While the Hotel Otter is 770 years old, neither its furniture nor its clientele are outdated. There's a lot of art everywhere, the rooms having been designed by various artists, so you won't get bored even at night time. There is an African lodge with bamboo elements, a Japanese variant with the usual minimalism, a maritime room with blue-striped wallpaper or fancy single rooms. At the Hotel Otter they know that there are different strokes for different folk, so individualism ranks high here. But the clientele - somewhere between model and musician - has to live up to James Joyce's harsh dictum: "Love, lie and look good because tomorrow we have to die". There are no limits to the cravings for pleasure and the door is open to the bar. While the latter's name is "Wüste" (desert), it is no desert at all. Here, true Zurich people get together for Swiss chats and a genuine Swiss beer. Do you need more? Double room from 105 Euros per night.
EAT in Zurich:
Eating like a pig but not eating pork. The latter applies to the Tibits, because you won't spot a pig or any other animal here. But relax: Nobody eats like a pig here either. Yet the vegetarian restaurant favours a casual atmosphere. Guests may serve themselves at a buffet, but that doesn't mean that meals taste like canteen food. Instead of boring cordon-bleu like mainstream meals you are offered fresh vegetarian dishes: Bircher muesli in the morning, gingered tomato soup for lunch, organic sandwiches in the evening. You won't find more seasonal and regional food anywhere. Prices depend on the weight of your food. 100 grams from the buffet cost 4.10 Francs. Does it come as a surprise that vegetarian food gets increasingly popular? Even in London they know the Tibits Take Away by now. The idea stems from the three brothers Reto, Christian and Daniel Frey. They were supported by the Haus Hiltl, a restaurant having specialized in vegetarian food since 1898.
Fans of sushi, sake and sashimi will find Zurich a suitable place: Already on four venues the Yooji's chain serves the best rolls in the typically Asian minimalistic style. Seefeld, Josef and Bellevue rather sound like "Sisi and Franz" but, gotcha, you are wrong! Behind the monarchic names hide sushi places. And that these have little in common with pomp and fanfare is generally known. A bit of bamboo, a bit of glass, small servings but lots of lemongrass dominate interior and kitchen of the Japanese restaurant. Those who like it can visit the gift shop at Yooji's Seefeld. There, they get the right kind of utensils for Asian lifestyles. The Josef, however, has fully devoted itself to rice wine. Before, with or after the noodle soup you should give the excellent sake a try. And later you can have a sake cocktail as well. Also at the Bellevue you have a good view of sake but you can also help yourself without bad conscience: There, a nutritionist checks what is served on the plate. So you can afford to sin with respect to the drink.
If you want to get closer to the water you have to be in the water. The outdoor lounge of Acqua promises the probably best view of sailing boats, mountains and Lake Zurich's sparkling blue. Such a panorama does only harmonise with the noblest interior, of course. The terrace is white and made of wood, suiting a fish meal after a long walk along the promenade. But the restaurant is luxurious inside as well: large windows, a lot of mother-of-pearl and space for a conservative clientele concluding perfect deals over a perfect dinner. The menu is as fresh as morning dew, combining seasonal and regional specialties. Fish and meat are grilled, the pizza comes from the wood stove and the guests come from the general assembly. And that's how the prices are defined. Acqua is not cheap but it is good. And you can get great brunches here. On Sundays they serve Mediterranean "Brunch al Lago" from 10.00 to 14.00.
SIGHTS in Zurich:
Good ideas should be handed on. Especially those like the Senior Design Factory in Zurich which brings the young and old together: for meals, chats and getting creative - for example during a knitting workshop. The idea for this project - building bridges between generations - comes from the Zurich designer Debora Biffi and Benjamin Moser. Crucial: her diploma thesis and Andy Warhol with his Silver Factory in New York melting art and consumption. The result: in March 2011 the first Senior Design Factory subsidiary opened with shop, atelier and workshop room located on Josefstraße. You can buy interior accessories, recipe cards, tea, brushes and household items. In autumn a second subsidiary opened on the pulsating shopping street, only a few houses away - with café and restaurant. Maybe you need to wait a moment longer for you coffee which you order from the 70-year-old waitress. But you'll possibly receive a charming smile in compensation. Also at the knitting workshop for beginners and advanced knitters with senior designers aged 90. Stop by, it can only get exciting!
Bürkliplatz is known for its flee market mainly. It's the souvenir hunters and antiques dealers that flock here in search of lost treasures. But that's not all this hub of Zurich lifestyles has in store for you. Bürkliplatz is also the starting point for the Zurich CityRunning event and it's the place for florists who present their colourful varieties of plants every Tuesday. During winter time, Bürkliplatz is the venue of candle-makers and right behind it you find Lake Zurich and Bellevueplatz, the very centre of Zurich. And have you seen the UFO there? UFO? Yes, in the middle of the tram tracks there is a flying saucer, once a tram shelter, but now an Italian café. Zurich is different, after all. At the café they serve you espresso already at five in the morning, and if you are still not sure what time it is, ask the Lake Zurich flower clock.
Everything that's going on here was won hard: The former silk factory was due for dismantling but the avant-garde scene was against it. A 1973 referendum decided that the factory was going to continue as a centre of culture and encounter. But the conservatives were against it, maintaining that rock music was no culture and should not be allowed to be staged at a city centre of culture. Then, nothing happened for many years. Eventually, the youth movement demanded that there be life in the dead factory. And after innumerable demonstrations they succeeded. Today, the red factory has cult status. Even Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers had guest performances here. Diverse programmes are hosted every evening. The factory theatre stages artistic experiments on a regular basis, there is free jazz, and thanks to "Fabrikvideo" fledgling musicians can produce their own videos and use the factory-owned cutting machine.
SHOPPING in Zurich:
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.
André (Andi) Stutz is a true sunshine and king in his field. Together with his sisters Elsa and Maya, he runs the company Fabric Frontline since 1980 and offers an immense range of precious silks. Not only his deer friend Vivienne Westwood but also Chanel, Gucci and Givenchy count to his clients. Apart from offering fine silk, Stutz and his team also design and produce accessories like neckerchiefs, scarves, foulards and ties. The headquarters with its complete range of fabrics is located in Ankerstrasse 118, whereas the boutique can be reached at Bahnhofstrasse 25, offering fashion made of cashmere and silk. Pullovers, jackets, blouses and coats made of silk are shining brightly in rainbow colours as if they were competing against each other. The boutique itself, designed by Ugo Rondinone, is richly colourful as well. For those of you who want it most exclusive can buy a custom-tailored silk garment by André Stutz.