The Dolder Grand is one of the world’s most famous Swiss hotels and has been since it first opened its doors in 1899. Enjoying an extensive refit and re-imagination in 2004, the property reopened in its current state in April 2008 today offering 175 classic and contemporary guest rooms including 60 suites. There are four restaurants, bars and lounges including the two Michelin starred The Restaurant under the toque of Heiko Nieder and Saltz, the all-day dining restaurant.
With sweeping views out over the city of Zürich, the lake and the Alps, many guests come to this city resort to simply relax, enjoying the award-winning ladies’ and gentlemen’s spa which covers a floor space of 4,000 square metres with facilities including a sauna, cold pool, Aroma Pool, steam bath, Kotatsu footbath, solarium, and a relaxation space. There is also an Aqua Zone with a swimming pool, indoor and outdoor whirlpool, sanarium, steam bath, Sunaburo, Snow Paradise, Chillout, Meditation Room, workout, mind-body and movement studios, a fitness centre and 18 treatment rooms with two spa suites. For the finishing touches, there is a hair salon, a spa café, a spa shop and a Spa Library. The spa also has an Aesthetic and Health Link with medical offers including health and immune boosts, face and body tightening, skin rejuvenation and coaching for the future.
Other fitness suggestions in the nearby vicinity include walking in the surrounding woodland, five clay tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, a driving range, a minigolf course and the public Dolder Bad swimming pool. In winter, it is possible to skate on the open-air Dolder Kunsteisbahn ice-rink, one of the largest such facilities in Europe.
Art lovers will also enjoy the over 120 works of art, scattered around the property including works by Salvador Dali, Fernando Botero, Jean Tinguely and Joan Miró – there is an Art iPad guide to showcase the works.
Located on Adlisberg Hill, two kilometres from and 200 metres above the city of Zürich, The Dolder Grand is 25 minutes transfer from Flughafen Zürich Airport accessed by both road and by the Dolderbahn rack railway with its upper terminus next to the hotel complex – Bergstation Dolderbahn. The property in total spreads out over 42,000 square metres of space. Six minutes’ drive from the city centre, the Dolder Grand offers parking for up to 240 vehicles with a regular shuttle service to Zürich’s city centre. The property also offers complimentary use of e-bikes.
There are 175 guest rooms and suites as The Dolder Grand, all unique but united by their modern décor and understated luxury with most offering either a view out over Zürich or the surrounding landscape. The hotel is comprised of a central historic building with a restored coffered lobby ceiling and two newer wings – the Spa and Golf wings, impeccably designed to complement the original hotel by Foster + Partners.
The single and double rooms come in different shapes and sizes but are linked by an elegant, understated interior design. The Single Rooms Superior (25 – 30 square metres) in the main building offer queen sized beds, a working desk and marble bathrooms with walk-in showers. Quiet and peaceful, views are over the Zürichberg Forest, the hotel’s gardens or the courtyard.
The Double Rooms Deluxe (35 – 46 square metres) in both the original building and the new wings are south facing, offering awe-inspiring views over Zürich, the lake or the Swiss Alps. Facilities include Nespresso coffee machines, a desk, B&O satellite TV with radio and on-demand service and a safe. In the bathrooms, there are separate tubs and showers with Dr Burgener skincare products. The Double Rooms Superior in the wings also offer a balcony to enjoy those views and the silence of the forest on the Zürichberg.
There are also family rooms (53 – 64 square metres) with more room to accommodate two adults and two children under the age of twelve. Childcare services are available in the Kids Room for three- to twelve-year-olds, there are children’s menus available and there will also be a welcome gift for children in the guest room. The next room category is the Junior Suites of which there are 44, located in both the main building and the wings (53 – 64 square metres) so the choice really is between the classic and the modern. Each offers a whirlpool bathtub with separate shower and the Junior Suites Superior offer those amazing south facing views over the forest and gardens. The Junior Suites Deluxe are similarly sized but offer a balcony with views out over the lake. The final junior suite category is the Junior Suites Grand in both the main building and the wings – all guaranteed to offer a panoramic sweep of the city of Zürich, the lake and the Swiss Alps.
The main suites offer the epitome of comfort in tasteful, understated luxury, serviced by private butlers. Spacious and elegant, each offers its own balcony with breathtaking views over Lake Zürich, fireplaces in both the living rooms and bedrooms with bathrooms featuring a whirlpool bathtub and a private sauna. The Suites Superior (83 – 156 square metres) are located in the main building and can be enlarged by combining two additional guest rooms. A separate kitchenette is located directly off the living room. The Suites Deluxe (100 – 220 square metres) have been restored to their original state in the main building, evoking the spirit of the fin-de-siècle era. The Suites Grand (104 – 166 square metres) are just as the name might suggest and are in the main building with a library on the second floor and a magnificent 16-metre roof terrace. The Golf Suite (112 – 170 square metres) is located on the top of the Golf wing and can be booked with either one or two bedrooms. There is a kitchenette for snacking and a living room and bedroom leading onto a terrace with a 270-degree panoramic view.
The four top suites of The Dolder Grand are inspired by four of their equally illustrious guests and were designed by London-based interiors firm United Designers. A fifth suite is The Terrazza Suite in the “Residence” category.
The two story, two-bedroom Maestro Suite (400 square metres) was inspired by no less a person that Herbert von Karajan, the legendary conductor and is situated at the highest point in the tower of the main building. The ensuite bathrooms are luxurious in the extreme with one in light Bianco Oro marble and the other in dark Portoro marble. They feature a whirlpool and a steam shower with one bathroom also featuring a sauna. Other facilities include a kitchen, a dining room, a library and on the upper floor, a living space for relaxation with dark red timberwork, a fireplace and a bar. The balcony is the highest vantage point for the hotel and there is a private lounge terrace with sweeping views out over the Alps, the lake and the city of Zürich.
Inspired by artist and sculptor, Alberto Giacometti, the two-bedroom Carezzo Suite (230 square metres) sits atop the Spa Wing and is distinguished by its sculpturally inspired fittings and furnishings with everything suggestive of works of art. Each of the bathrooms are dressed in white Bianco Lasa Vena Oro marble and feature a whirlpool and steam shower with one also featuring a sauna. There is an integrated dining area adjoining a fully equipped kitchen, a spacious living area, an avant-garde TV lounge and a terrace running around the entire suite.
Federico Fellini’s actress wife Giulietta Masina, inspired the two-bedroom Masina Suite (170 square metres), adding a touch of 1950’s glamour and style. This time, the bathroom is in another wonderful marble – dark green Verde Guatemala marble, featuring a whirlpool, a steam shower with one also having a sauna. The large TV in the main living space is perfect for cinematic viewings and alongside the dining area, kitchen and outdoor terrace, there is also a pool table for relaxation.
The Rolling Stones were the inspiration for the 170 square metre Suite 100 (named for London’s The 100 Club), the epitome of rock and roll also located atop the Spa Wing. With retro style furnishings and a predominantly black and pink décor harking back to the Swinging Sixties, this one-bedroom suite features a black bathroom kitted out with whirlpool, sauna and steam shower. There is also a living room, a dining area, a kitchen and a meeting room seating up to 10 guests. The terrace looks out over the Main Building, the lake and the Alps.
The Residence Terrazza (390 square metres) offers three en-suite bedrooms perfect for longer stays. The master bathroom features a steam shower and a whirlpool bath for two and is dressed in a soft brown iridescent mother of pearl marble. There is a private entrance, an open living and dining room, a kitchen, an office and a private glass lift connecting the entrance to the living area. There is also a wonderful terrace with views over Lake Zürich.
Pride of place within the copious facilities offered at The Dolder Grand is the stunning award-winning spa which covers a floor space of 4,000 square metres to include both a Ladies’ Spa and a Gentleman’s Spa, separate areas which offer saunas, steam baths, kotatsu foot baths, aroma pools, steam pots, cold water basins and sunbeds. For pre or post treatments, there are relaxation, chillout and meditation areas. There is also an Aqua Zone with a 25-metre swimming pool, indoor and outdoor whirlpool, sanarium, steam bath, relaxation Japanese style in the warm pebbles of the sunaburo – sand bath - and the snow paradise. Other facilities include workout, mind-body and movement studios, a fitness centre and 18 treatment rooms with two spa suites. The property offers a range of group fitness classes free of charge. For the finishing touches, there is the En Vogue hair salon, a spa library, spa café, and a spa shop. The spa also has an Aesthetic and Health Link with medical offers, skin rejuvenation, face and body tightening, health and immune boost and coaching for the future.
Other fitness suggestions in the nearby vicinity, apart from walking in the surrounding woodland, are five clay tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, a driving range, a minigolf course and the public Dolder Bad swimming pool. In winter, it is possible to skate on the open-air Dolder Kunsteisbahn ice-rink, one of the largest such facilities in Europe.
Art lovers will also enjoy the over 120 works of art, scattered around the property, with guest tours self-guided by an iPad. There are major pieces on display, predominantly in the public areas but a few can be seen on the guest room floors too. Works include pieces by Salvador Dali, Fernando Botero, Jean Tinguely, Joan Miró and Takashi Murakami to name but a few. For those like me who deem architecture an art form, then the building itself designed by Foster + Partners, is similarly remarkable, cleverly combining both old and new with the addition of the two newer wings – Spa and Golf wings.
Originally built between 1897 and 1899 by the architect Jacques Gros, the property closed for an epic re-imagination in 2004 doubling its size. Maintaining the look and feel of the original historic building, this far-reaching restoration saw the demolition of any non-listed extensions added after 1899, the re-enforcement of the original building with two floors added and the construction of two new fluid and organic wings adjacent to the old building reconnecting the property to the surrounding forest. These wings have stencil-cut aluminum screens lining the facades to form balustrades and provide shading, with the tree pattern echoing the woodland surrounding them – their colour palette echoing the existing original building to provide a homogenous integrated whole – all undertaken under the auspices of Sir Norman Foster and his team for a huge sum of money.
It takes great courage to do a refiguration and retrofit of a well-known property like the Dolder Grand and Foster did not let down major shareholder Urs Schwarzenbach with his flowing design for the two wings which complemented – and enhanced – the original building whilst ensuring the property had all the attributes to continue at the top of its game well into the future. A phenomenal achievement resulting in a stunning urban resort.
Innovation is at the heart of the property and it never rests on its laurels. The property was also the first Swiss luxury hotel to accept the cryptocurrency Bitcoin by way of payment as of 1st May 2019 and it boasts its own Spotify channel, Studio 8032 The Dolder Grand.
There are four main outlets at The Dolder Grand for eating and drinking including the two Michelin starred The Restaurant, the all-day dining restaurant, Saltz, The Lobby for Afternoon Tea and snacks and The Bar for light bites, cocktails and more.
The menus of the 47 seat The Restaurant under the toque of Heiko Nieder is all about flavour and freshness of produce leading to the award of 19 GaultMillau points (Nieder was Chef of the Year in 2018) alongside the Michelin stars. There is an element of surprise in each dish such as Breton lobster with strawberries, beetroot, tarragon and mustard or desserts which incorporate vegetables such as blueberries with celery, cucumber and ginger. It is all about experimentation and innovation.
For lunch, there is an amuse bouche menu, a four and a five-star lunch. In the evening, there are six to ten course dinners and a special vegetarian menu. Alongside the fully restored historic main restaurant, there is also a Private Dining Room, a lounge bar and a terrace for al fresco dining in clement weather. There are over 500 wines on the wine list with more than 1,200 bottles stored in a specially commissioned wine cube. There are around 30 different marques of champagne, 100 white and 250 red wines included.
By way of contrast, Saltz restaurant has been designed in predominantly red, white, and blue by artist Rolf Sachs and has an air of understated opulence. The menus are uncomplicated yet sophisticated using regional ingredients and specialities. Weekly highlights include a wide-ranging brunch menu served every Saturday and Sunday in the restaurant and if the weather is nice, on the panoramic sun terrace too, served to a backbeat of a live DJ set. The restaurant’s Bar offers a range of cocktails to complement the menus alongside light bites.
The Lobby with its restored historic ceiling and antique fireplace, offers cakes and pastries alongside drinks and snacks with weekly live music acts making this The Lobby with Groove! During the winter, traditional Afternoon Tea is also served whilst at night, drinks, innovative, seasonal cocktails and snacks are served in The Bar and outside on the terrace – complete with resident DJ spinning the decks. The Bar’s lighting is stunning with suspended ceiling lights made from Swarovski candles with the décor being a mix of historic elements, contemporary design, and modernist art.
For those who like Oriental cuisine, the property also features Asly Oriental Cuisine served in the Saltz Restaurant, The Lobby and in room service, offering a range of dishes from the Middle East including cold and warm mezze and main dishes of fried fillet of pike perch on hot peppers or shish taouk chicken skewers.
The Dolder Grand has also launched its own gourmet festival – The Epicure. Debuting in September 2014, the festival showcases a range of internationally renowned guest chefs.
The 2004 retrofit of The Dolder Grand has seen a number of sustainability opportunities for the resort including the installation of an intelligent BMS system to control the building from lighting controls to sensors on the windows to switch off mechanical ventilation and local, responsibly sourced materials used in the construction.
Rainwater harvesting tanks and a greywater treatment system were also installed to provide non-potable water requirements to conserve water usage. The building can also be both naturally and mechanically ventilated through the use of low-energy systems to ensure it is future-proof and able to adapt to climate change.
The refit also improved the thermal efficiency of the building with insulation installed to the inside of walls and triple glazing replacing the traditional single glazed windows. For renewable energy, a ground source heat pump system provides around 25% of the cooling requirements in summer and heating requirements for the building in winter. The rest of their electricity is covered in a CO2 neutral way with 100% Swiss hydroelectric power.
Due to the programmes in place, there has been a 50% reduction in energy consumption in the new facility versus the old despite it being twice the size. The property also changed from halogen to LED lighting in 2020 for a seven times higher energy efficiency.
All the property’s table and bed linen are made of cotton and linen yarn from the EU and since 2016, the hotel has donated any used guest soap to the non-profit organisation SapoCycle to be recycled and sent to families in need. The hotel has also digitalised the arrival process to cut down on paper wastage and they use long-lasting potted indoor plants rather than cut flowers to decorate the rooms. Candles are recycled finding new life again as candles through recycling.
On the food and drink side, wherever possible, food produce in the restaurants is regional and seasonal first, all plastic stirrers, sticks and drinking straws have been eliminated. Breakfast dishes are also provided as individual portions for demand-orientated planning of food to avoid food wastage.
In the spa, the venue offers water dispensers and reusable bottles and glasses rather than bottled water in the fitness area. They also work with skin care brands that reduce waste by dispensing with unnecessary packaging such as Dr Burgener Switzerland. Another spa partner is Amala whose products are all 100% natural, non-toxic and GMO free. Re wellness wear, the spa shop works with Back Label – a 100% Italian label certified ICEA/GOTS and B-Corp, with products free from polyester or any other toxic substance.
They are EarthCheck Silver Certified and are members of NOW Sustainability, part of an industry led initiative to take responsibility for their impact on communities and the environment. They have also qualified for the highest level of Switzerland Tourism’s Swisstainable programme. With the “Cause we care” initiative, guests can promote climate protection both locally and globally by making voluntary contributions to ensure they travel carbon neutral. Dolder Grand also supports Madagascar: back to the green island, to reduce CO2 emissions.