On a crisp winter afternoon in Zürich, I don the last of my knits before venturing out of the airport to catch a train to Lucerne. I’m on my way to the newly refurbished Bürgenstock Resort, a treasure trove of luxury dating back to 1873, nestled between the cantons of Lucerne and Nidwalden.
The hour-long train journey winds between the pristine beauty of Lake Lucerne and the majestic Alps. After a short boat ride, I’m whisked up the mountain by the newly restored Bürgenstock Funicular, Switzerland’s first electric railway, built in 1888, its striking red exterior suggests it was also recently restored. These same carriages have transported luminaries, from Sophia Loren to Audrey Hepburn, who got married to Mel Ferrer at the resort in 1954.
Bürgenstock Funicular © Bürgenstock Hotels AG
A few minutes later, I arrive at the Bürgenstock Resort perched atop the Bürgenberg mountain ridge, some 500 metres above Lake Lucerne. I look up at the Bürgenstock Hotel, an imposing L-shaped building with 102 rooms and suites spread across seven floors, its understated shell limestone façade, by Lucerne architects Rüssli Architekten AG, bathes in the dusking sun.
The hotel opened its doors in September last year and is one of the four properties including Palace Hotel, Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence, and Taverne 1879 at the Bürgenstock Resort. These, alongside 12 new restaurants and the Alpine Spa, opened following a seven-year-long $560 million face-lift, making the resort the most promising new luxury destination in the world.
A view of Bürgenstock Hotel and the funicular © Bürgenstock Hotels AG
Inside the Bürgenstock Hotel, the restrained interior by London-based MKV Design is lavishly done out in brown, impeccably polished with every element a nod to its natural surroundings. The organic forms bring the outside in, with designs in wood, metal and stone, much of which was locally sourced. “With such natural scenery around us, we felt that the hotel didn’t need anything else. The view from the window is our artwork,” says Maria Vafiadis, interior designer and founder of MKV Design. “We wanted to celebrate the location, the Lake of Lucerne and Switzerland.”
Bürgenstock Hotel lakeview bar and lounge. Photography by Robert Miller © Bürgenstock Hotels AG
Vafiadis sensitively imbues the hotel’s design with a contemporary spin on traditional Swiss crafts. From a sculptural wooden wall depicting rural life in Switzerland in the lobby made with the same technique as the Swiss art of Scherenschnitte (decorative paper-cutting), to hand-embroidered curtains boasting Swiss embroidery, the hotel’s design shows reverence to the country’s age-old traditions.
For a location that’s steeped in 145 years of history, Bürgenstock Hotel is richly modern in design. Floors in dark walnut parquet, structural ceiling featuring a pattern of the Swiss national flower Edelweiss, curved wall panels in bronze, plush mauve and cream velvet upholstery, a spiral staircase inspired by Switzerland’s Hammetschwand lift, and a contemporary funnel-shaped central fireplace, tie the space together.
Bürgenstock Hotel reception with funnel-shaped central fireplace © Bürgenstock Hotels AG
I’m shown to my room on the fifth floor down a dreamy corridor featuring a luscious warm-toned carpet with a recurrent Edelweiss motif and textured grey walls. I entered the room to what was the most enchanting view through the bedroom window – the lake covered in an ethereal fog, the jagged peaks of the Alps soaring above.
Bürgenstock Hotel Deluxe Lakeview Room © Bürgenstock Hotels AG
The room is warm and inviting with a spacious walk-in closet, wooden desk and a minibar lit with playful cowbell pendant lamps, tasteful accents for the sleek setting. The king-size bed that sits on the parquet floor is placed against a wood-panelled wall. The bathroom is another visual treat. “We split the room into two parts and positioned a soaking bathtub between the window and the wet area, so that both the room and bathroom have exactly the same view,” explains Vafiadis.
That night, I dine at the new Sharq Oriental Restaurant and Shisha Lounge and marvel at its Arabesque interior, also done by MKV Design. “It’s no coincidence that we have an oriental restaurant in the resort. The Middle Eastern clientele is very important to us,” shares Swiss hotelier Bruno Schöpfer, who leads the team at the Bürgenstock Selection. The menu boasts authentic oriental delights such as tabbouleh and mezze platter, seasoned to perfection with Arabian spices.
An interior view of Sharq Oriental Restaurant and Shisha Lounge © Bürgenstock Hotels AG
The next morning, I visit the adjoining Palace Hotel, its Belle Époque flair still intact, through an enchanting ‘museum’ corridor that features artefacts from the original 1905 building. I’m on my way to the RitzCoffier, an exquisite French restaurant designed as an old shuttle kitchen, with Marc Haeberlin of the acclaimed L’Auberge de l’Ill (decorated with three Michelin Stars consecutively for the past 50 years) as Signature Chef.
I spend the next two days devouring the resort’s spectacular dining selection, including my personal favourite, Spices Kitchen & Terrace at the Bürgenstock Hotel, which offers a delightful mix of Japanese, Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisines.
An interior view of Spices Kitchen & Terrace © Bürgenstock Hotels AG
Then, I indulge with a massage at the Alpine Spa using the delicious range of Ligne St. Barth products with fragrances inspired by nature. Spread across 10,000 square metres and three storeys, this is Switzerland’s largest alpine hotel wellness spa. The tranquil haven is equipped with 15 treatment rooms, a sauna, a gym, an infinity-edge pool, and a Hollywood pool, among other offerings.
Infinity-edge pool at the Alpine Spa © Bürgenstock Hotels AG
Early next day, I take one last look at the majestic lake from my bedroom as snowflakes gently fall against the windowpane. The memory of the trip turns in my head like a film reel, so cinematic and majestic I can’t believe it was real. With my luggage filled with rich Swiss chocolates, I reluctantly head back to the Lucerne train station, taking in the spectacular views one last time with the vow to return soon.