Freddie Mercury lived there while looking for a home in Switzerland, Vladimir Nabokov used the proceeds of Lolita to fund a permanent suite and Deep Purple recorded Smoke on the Water in its lake-side pavilion. There may not be a more celebrity-studded hotel in Switzerland than the Montreux Palace, arguably the country’s most glamorous hostelry.
Thanks to investment by Fairmont since taking it over, this multiple award-winning five-star hotel gleams as brightly today as when it was built in 1906. The yellow awnings and art nouveau signage are as much a city landmark as the station, a five-minute stroll away, where Hemingway set one of his stories. But the hotel’s great glory is its proximity to Lake Geneva – step outside and you’re on the shore within 30 seconds.
While all the rooms are gorgeously done out in soothing pastels, insist on a lake view or postpone until you can get one; the whole point of this hotel is to sit on your balcony and commune with the glorious body of water and snow-capped mountains beyond.
Dining options include an elegant bar and grill overlooking the water and Funky Claude’s, named for the founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, where casual fare can be enjoyed with live music and beaucoup de buzz. The breakfast room, with its own lake-view terrace, is one of Europe’s grandest, offering a spectacular spread.
Indoor and outdoor pools and an Oriental-themed spa provide day-time diversion, while strolls beside the lake admiring the swans, flower displays and shoreside sculptures are a daily treat not to be missed(look out for the statue of Freddie Mercury).
While the jazz festival is the town’s most obvious draw, it’s a delight to visit at any time of year. Just down the road is one of the world’s great castles – the magnificently preserved Chateau de Chillon which inspired Byron – and a panoramic train offers a thrilling ride through mountains to nearby Gruyere with its fondue cafes and cow bells. However, the hard part is tearing yourself away from your balcony – a tough chore for those who have bagsed perhaps the world’s finest hotel room view.
Anthea Gerrie travelled to Montreux as the guests of the Lake Geneva Region and the Swiss Tourist Board.
Tell me more about Fairmont Le Montreux Palace
Fairmont Le Montreux Palace
Avenue Claude Nobs 2
Tel: + 41 21 962 1212
Rooms from £204;
For more information on Lake Geneva visit Lake Geneva Region Tourism
Swiss flies to Geneva from Heathrow and London City airports several times a day; flights from £81.