There is a spirit in this hotel that is very different from the other hotels in Geneva,” says Alexandre Nickbarte, general manager at the Beau Rivage, which has added two new floors of rooms and suites, as its neighbors—Hotel de la Paix and Hotel d’Angleterre—have also updated recently.
Remarkably, Beau Rivage has been owned and operated by the Mayer family since it opened in 1865. Nickbarte, who represents the fifth generation to manage the property, presented old family photos and mementos in a mini-museum off the hotel’s atrium lobby, where a babbling fountain sets a relaxing tone the moment you enter the building.
The lobby has undergone several transformations over the decades as tastes have changed—from neo-classical to art deco. Last year, they installed a glass ceiling over the atrium letting natural light flow in. While Beau Rivage continually freshens its existing classical rooms and public spaces from time to time, this year, it completed a major expansion constructing two floors on the top of the building. The addition added 17 rooms and suites, which now total 90, each with their own style and personality.
The Céleste (French for heavenly) floors are named for the skylights above the beds in six two-story suites that allow you to gaze up at the stars as you fall asleep. The duplexes range in size from 1,076 to more than 1,600 square feet.
Renowned designer Pierre-Yves Rochon infused the interiors with residential ambience that makes you feel as if you are staying in an elegant city apartment rather than in a hotel. Art and antiques from the Mayer family’s private collections and pieces that have occupied the hotel for generations are blended with custom furnishings and new acquisitions that the owner has picked up at auction. “We mix everything together, and this gives it a special atmosphere,” says Nickbarte. “The new suites are very domestic, and this is very important because you feel at ease in this room. You’re not at home, but the idea is to have the same feeling.”
This year, the 152-year-old Hotel de La Paix, was reborn as a Ritz Carlton, making it the first Ritz-Carlton in Switzerland. The multi-million-dollar, top-to-bottom renovation blends 19th-century grand dame architecture with contemporary monochromatic interiors. The hotel’s 74 guestrooms, including 14 elegant suites, feature floor-to-ceiling windows that let in natural light and maximize views of the lake and the landmark Jet d’Eau fountain. The art deco-style Presidential Suite is named for Grace Kelly, a frequent guest.
On the culinary front, Executive Chef Alessio Corda introduces a Nordic-fusion concept with Fiskebar, featuring a fresh fish counter with communal seating. For all-day dining centered on local and seasonal ingredients, the Living Room Bar & Kitchen has a modern lounge-like atmosphere overlooking the lake. And a Philippe Pascoët chocolate shop in the lobby offers handmade confections by the Swiss master chocolatier.
Also on the Quai du Mont Blanc, the street bordering the lake, the Hotel D’Angleterre has been subtly updating with a focus on suites. With 39 rooms and six suites, this charming boutique hotel is part of the Red Carnation Group, owned by the Tollman family, which personally oversees everything from interior design to cuisine in their 17 hotels located in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Switzerland, and the U.S.
The d’Angleterre recently re-designed its lakefront Bellevue suite in muted shades of beige with custom leopard print carpets and fabrics. The pattern on the bedspread and headboard in the bedroom is echoed on the walls in the living room, connecting the spaces and heightening a sense of glamour. The suite is also appointed with antique furniture, mirrors, and artworks that were personally selected by the Tollmans. In addition, two junior suites are currently undergoing a renovation and redesign that will be completed in time for Christmas.
As the Geneva hotel market has struggled in recent years due to a lag in upscale business travelers, the city on Lac Leman is trying to recast itself as a tourist destination with its charming Old Town, museums, scenic beauty, and vibrant neighborhoods, such Plainpalais, with bustling restaurants and cafes. Over the past decade, other luxury hotels along the Quai du Mont Blanc have upgraded their offerings as well, raising the five-star bar in what was once a woefully dated luxury hotel scene.