“Celebrate good times,” sang Kool and the Gang as I enter my spacious dual aspect bedroom.
Ornate outsize calligraphy spells out “Celebrate”, crowning the headpiece above my bed. It’s where Lucerne’s remarkable light and Grand Tour elegance coalesce, stylishly blended with a sophisticated hint of pop art.
Immediately checking out the bathroom – I’ve become unnaturally fixated with mini toiletries in recent years – I found that Kool and his ubiquitous gang had extravagantly autographed the walls of my en-suite.
Returning to my spacious and elegant bedroom Kool was still melodically singing out his advice: “There’s a party goin’ on right here, A celebration to last throughout the years.”
I just hoped that Kool had mucked up his diary. I had journeyed to Lucerne for the art, lake, mountains and particularly the inaugural light festival: not a millennium-long eternal disco recalling the heyday of Studio 54.
“It could have been very different,” another guest suggested when I commented on Mr Kool’s surprising welcome to my room.
“Wagner stayed in Room 7,” she elucidated. “It’s where he finished Tristan and Isolde. You’ll get a high-decibel blast of opera every time you enter.”
Fortunately, knocks on the door of Room 7 from debt-collectors, died down well over a century ago. Wagner totted up six years without paying his bill at the local hostelry.
“Just be grateful that there isn’t a room celebrating Keith “Moon the Loon”. Half your furniture would have been floating on the lake,” she joked. That’s fanciful thinking, there are no rooms dedicated to the Rolling Stones.
Travellers have been arriving at the Hotel Schweizerhof since 1845 in pursuit of Lucerne’s quaint charms. Early visitors found that a wooden bridge spanning Lake Lucerne, dripping history, spoilt the vista across the tranquil waters towards the mountains. The heathens, supposedly on the educating Grand Tour, asked for it to be removed.
The Schweizerhof has 101 rooms, almost always celebrating a celebrity who had stayed at the hotel – but there are exceptions. A very grand suite commemorates Queen Elizabeth ll’s Lake Lucerne cruise in 1980. Although Her Majesty did not stay at the hotel the Schweizerhof supplied the cutlery.
The Schweizerhof’s public areas are even grander than the rooms and the indulgent spa. The fact that there are two high-ceilinged, chandeliered, gilded ballrooms gives some idea of the hotel’s exalted status in Lucerne’s social scene.
The Schweizerhof is at the hub of Lucerne life. Somehow people always seem to arrive twenty minutes early for appointments so that they can relax over coffee in the lounge. Then at the end of business, they wind down in the glamorous cocktail bar: the sort of place where Noel Coward would have relaxed as the pianist effortlessly performs a glissando or two.
Experienced Lucerne aficionados linger on for dinner in a dining room of orchids, impeccably starched table cloths and solid silver cutlery. It’s a modern European contemporary menu that revers local ingredients. Service is beyond immaculate. After all the Schweizerhof family have run the hotel for five successive generations.
But the winds of change will blow through the Schweizerhof for the hotel’s 175th anniversary in 2020. There will be five controversial changes to the 101 celebrities as five rooms are redesigned to feature five new notable figures.
Surely Neil Armstrong the first man to walk on the moon is safe? Hans Christian Anderson, Leo Tolstoy, Her Majesty and Winston Churchill must be big enough names to survive any cull. But what price will the bookmakers be giving on the survival of Nick Kershaw, Shaggy and Roger Hodgson of Supertramp? And will Francis Rossi and Status Quo still be rocking in this little corner of the world after the elimination? In every room there is a lavish coffee table book featuring the current 101 celebrities, so you can peruse the runners and riders at your leisure.
In many ways Kool got it right. The Schweizerhof loves a party, such as its Retro Festival. And every night the reflections of the Schweizerhof’s multi-coloured lights shimmer on the lake.
Tell Me More About The Hotel Schweizerhof Lucerne
Schweizerhofquai 3, 6002 Lucerne
T: +41 41 41 410 04 10
Rooms begin from around £250 for a double.