‘CALL reception to refill bucket with fresh ice” read the sign on the coffee table.
Needless to say, the original bucketful far outlived the bottle of champagne that formed part of my welcome package on arrival. La Réserve Genève is a luxurious spa hotel, part of Michel Reybier’s high-end group. Just minutes from the city’s main airport, near the French border, it is packed with facilities, including five restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna and steam room, tennis courts and an adventure park area for children.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
I counted 5 stars, but I think I must have missed one.
One living area, one bathroom, one bedroom, four chairs, one sofa, two televisions, one view of Mont Blanc, two terraces, two sun loungers, one king-size bed, 13 choices of pillow from the menu, one mini bar, one bookcase, some books (I wasn’t there to count books). The list could go on, and if something’s not on it, they will add it. La Réserve has an “anything is possible” attitude and the staff are always happy to help – if you suspect there may be something in the water, at 10 Swiss Francs (£6.80) a bottle, perhaps there should be.
WINING AND DINING
There’s plenty of choice at La Réserve, with menus and wine lists to match the Michelin-starred chefs’ pedigrees. Recently, Frank Xu has been drafted in to head up The Tsé Fung Chinese restaurant, serving up signature dishes such as traditional lacquered duck, which is theatrically and meticulously prepared at your table. This is the time to sample some of the robust wines from the Reybier-owned Château Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux. From the Lodge’s menu, sushi and grilled fish attract the local crowds but there are plenty of options for non-pescatarians.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
Try one of the range of massages or treatments La Réserve offer, all based on clinical research, supported and developed by Swiss cosmeceutical company Nescens. Consultants will assess problem areas – and prescribe treatments and products to suit.
La Réserve has its own motoscafo, a former Venetian water taxi, which regularly ferries guests across the lake into town, where you will find what makes Geneva tick. During the 16th-century reformation, led by the theologian John Calvin, the city ditched Catholic extravagances and grey became the new gold (most evident in the stunning Cathedral of St Pierre). Discover how Genevan craftsmen, forced to turn their attentions from jewellery to watches, made Switzerland synonymous with timepieces – from the historic workshops of Vacheron Constantin, to new kids on the Rue Voltaire block, Cvstos.
Saunter round the old town, lunch at the forum where, since Roman times, the Genevans have chewed the fat. If you happen to have a forgiving relationship with your bank, visit the shops along Rue du Rhône.
Switzerland favours discretion, and perhaps as a result Geneva has not littered its evolution with congratulatory monuments along the way, therefore it’s worth employing the services of a guide to unveil the hidden stories that have shaped this city into a global hub of commerce and diplomacy.
As Geneva is right next to the French border, French is the language of the city, so those years studying Romansh may be wasted, unfortunately, as it’s unlikely you’ll bump in to the 0.5% of the population who speak it.
During the winter season, La Réserve’s outdoor pool is transformed into an ice rink. There are also summer camps for kids and activities.
You may never want to leave, like one family I encountered who have moved in on a permanent basis. Oh, and once you’ve banished a few hundred calories on the treadmill, undo all the good work with La Réserve’s éclair for dessert – you can always extend your visit and spend one more day in the gym.
• Fly direct from Edinburgh and Glasgow with easyJet from £140 return (www.easyjet.com). Rooms per night from SFr550 (£380) to SFr1,050 (£720). Suites per night from SFr1,050 (£720) to SFr8,600 (£5,910). La Réserve Genève Hotel and Spa, 301 Route de Lausanne, 1293 Bellevue, Geneva (+ 41 22 959 59 59, www.lareserve.ch/en)