STAY in Zurich:
Different styles behind each door: The Hotel Widder is the Omelette Surprise among the design hotels. And so you are spoilt for choice: Baroque wall painting or loft with metal balcony? In the mood for heavy wooden beams or Andy Warhol? You'll find everything at the Hotel Widder: While the nine Medieval town houses feature different styles each, they have one thing in common: individualism. Minimal meets maximal here: You are offered heavy curtains, Biedermeier furniture and playful styles just as much as armatures sparkling with chromate, masculine leather sofas and pure lines. The restaurants feature a similar mix: The breakfast pavilion below a glass roof is so bright that you can see the yolk shimmering through your egg. While the Widder Restaurant is darker it is equally excellent (15 Gault Millau points). The Widder Bar features jazz in the evening. And with Hank Jones and Phil Woods you can easily round off the day over a single malt whisky. Double room from 550 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 While the Hotel Otter is 770 years old, neither its furniture nor its clientele are outdated.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.
In Zurich the world revolves around banks. And busy bankers best look for a hotel that furthers concentration, such as the Seehof. Here, business people may finally take a rest and keep a level head at the purist hotel. The design is slightly reserved some say. But others delight in the pure lines, the absence of pomp and the plain appearance. A bed, a table, a chair - do you need more than that? Okay, we will need some high-tech, too. And the furniture is best quality, too. The junior suite even boasts its own terrace, and a bath to feel good in with a beautiful bathtub. But still, even the upper floors are manageable as to sizes: 25 square metres feature only what needs to be there. The rest is bells and whistles anyway. This trend continues into the restaurant, which is often frequented by the local culture scene due to its vicinity to the opera. A titbit of sushi, little sashimi, well prepared by chef de cuisine Keisuke Takatori, who you may watch while he prepares his art. Conclusion: Dining and sleeping is well-portioned at the Seehof. But there's nothing wrong with it every once in a while. Double rooms from 211 Euros per night.
EAT in Zurich:
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.
Industrial design: While the Swiss have not invented it, they like it anyway. At the trendy Rosso, for example, they overdo it a bit, with cables hanging loose and bare light tubes on the walls. Also the view you have from the long window front will only appeal to railway fans. Tracks and trains dominate the scene, and dinner is little romantic. But while you can get your water directly from the tap, you have to be patient awaiting your pizza. But when it finally is served, the waiting has been worthwhile. It tastes equally fantastic as the grilled calamari, making up for bare walls and bad service. The clientele that comes here likes the hippie chic because it's part of the scene. Medical students like the clinical surroundings, eagerly dissecting their wood-stove pizzas. Sometimes a local DJ acts as pizza man, unless he is occupied with his own business. All in all the Rosso is certainly an adventure not to be missed - but if you come a second time is a question of patience.
Rigiblick offers ample space for unfolding to its guests. Nobody suffers from claustrophobia here but you are spoilt for choice when it comes to the wine. If you are not an expert you should ask for advice, otherwise you might mix up the St. Laurent 2007 with the Pinot Noir - and that would be a faux pas. But if you still mess up the etiquette rules you need not fear an angry look from your neighbour: The tables are as far away from one another that you won't even hear high-pitched laughter from the other side. At this noble restaurant guests can concentrate on the essential, namely the food. The latter, while expensive, is pan-Asian and creative. Halibut is served with Malaysian vegetables, veal fillet comes with pineapple and duck liver comes even twice: fused with pumpernickel or with limes and rocket. What a feast! Also a feast (to the eyes) are the light-flooded rooms, the summer terrace with a terrific view of Zurich and the distance to your neighbour's table. It is understandable that gourmets feel at home here. And it is understandable that poor guys stay at home.
SIGHTS in Zurich:
Dada doesn't rest - Dada reproduces itself, says a phrase on the topic. And we add the following: If you say Dada too often, you become a bit gaga. But that's how it should be, probably. As what began at Cabaret Voltaire in 1916, soon became known as a playground of crazy emotions. Thus, Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings and Hans Arp did not only stage their protest against World War I when opening their artists' pub but also invented a new art movement, which can hardly be described in words, therefore being simply called Dada. Dada is a collage from cubism, futurism and Medieval mystics, a wild blend of abstract dance and atonal music, of poetry, painting and the performing arts, i.e. Dada. If you got lost by now just come by. The Cabaret Voltaire is still flying the flags for Dada, delivering magic moments with exactly the right amount of irony palpable in every work of Dada.
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:
Where the world is still a disc, the world is fine. At the Zero Zero you won't find a double zero as it sells only the best the music world has in store. At the perhaps best-assorted and largest record store in town music fans will find anything their heart desires. A comprehensive discography of rock's history, a lot of reggae and much Indie is big here. Our tip: If you arrive here on Thursdays, DJ Rexx will advise you and he is a true expert. You cannot only buy records here but also the fitting streetwear. Labels like Superdry, Abercombie and Goorin are the right outfits for Hip Hop and Co. And if you own something that you don't need anymore you've found the right place, too. The Zero Zero buys anything in the fields of CD, DVD, records or games. They even pick up bulkier stuff at your home. There is one genre though that even deters the wildest record dealers: The store doesn't sell hits and they are not bought here either.
Here's another Swiss designer devoted to avant-garde: While not every woman will like Sissi Zöbeli's designer pieces, they are at least unique. The exclusive clothes are often a combination of jacket and long pants. That's why they perfectly fit the hard-working woman over 30, for whom they are tailored as well. The suits are casually combined with other designer labels. Genuine Sissi Zöbeli shoes match well with Anita Moser, T-shirts by Daniel Herman or jewellery by Ma Schellenberg. And the interior decoration matches excellently with the original style of the designer. The former butcher's shop was renovated with loving detail and has a kind of kitschy but wearable style. And, while avant-garde, the clothes that sell here are wearable as well. Sissi Zöbeli mixes jeans, plush, silk and cotton but always stays on the safe side. Her clothing is never too extravagant, even when the western shirt goes with the cotton skirt.
Those who think that Swiss fashion is mostly made of traditional costumes are wrong. There are a few exceptions on the Zurich fashion scene: Lotta Müller, for example, who went to Milan to learn from the best. Among others, she already worked for Vivienne Westwood and Roberto Cavalli. Now, she is back to Zurich, and has opened up her own store. What you can buy here, you can't buy anywhere else: unique pieces made in Zurich and not in a North-Italian factory. If you get alarmed when you hear the name Westwood, relax: While Lotta Müller's fashion is avant-garde, her exclusive shoes are wearable. Also the other pieces of her collection may very well get in touch with dirt. While the new and newly discovered labels are chic and expensive, you won't find the Baroque ruffs á la Westwood. But you can buy her Anlgomania collection, and LaLotta Boutique also sells Gilles Rosier and Oktober.