Picture a stylish city perched on the shores of a vast, glimmering lake surrounded by slender Parisian-style buildings, cobbled streets and Medieval old town spires.
Welcome to Lausanne, Switzerland’s fourth largest city, home to the Olympic Committee and the famous Collection de l’Art Brut. Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn were former residents, while T.S Elliot composed his masterpiece The Wasteland here. Chic bars, boutiques and galleries sit against a backdrop of mountain peaks and vineyard slopes; an urban jewel amid stunning Swiss scenery – and clean, clean air.
With just one short flight from London followed by a dazzling 40-minute train ride along Lake Geneva, it’s astonishing this city isn’t a more popular destination for weekend spa breaks. The opening of The Royal Savoy’s glam new 1,500 square foot city spa, however, could well change the scene…
The Royal Savoy, an iconic Art Nouveau hotel with Gothic turrets peering down toward the lake, has just had a £75 million refurbishment to restore its former splendour. The lobby is a thing of beauty with a fabulously groovy glass-panelled chandelier, elegantly hand-stencilled walls and original stained-glass windows. The Sky Lounge restaurant – with a breathtaking panorama of the lake and spectacular Jura Mountains – is something else.
At the rear of the hotel, a glass walkway dangling over manicured Japanese gardens takes you to the new modern spa wing. Bedrooms are above, while the spa itself is on ground level. Inside, the spa is gorgeously designed, an urban oasis with dramatic grey striped marble floors and walls of dappled mosaics. Vivid pink chairs and Smarties style wall art provide splashes of bold colour.
The spacious reception and dark corridors are atmospherically illuminated, like entering a classy nightclub. Ladies changing rooms are dark walled and uber-stylish, with their own square silver hydro pool, glass-fronted sauna, steam room, and a relaxation booth with four cosy beds. Mini fridges are dotted around filled with refreshing bottles of cold water. There’s also a mixed sauna, steam room and hammam; a hair salon and gym; plus a luxuriant couple’s suite and exclusive rooms for the most chi-chi private spa party imaginable.
The centrepiece of the spa is a gleaming metallic indoor-outdoor pool glimpsed through cut-out windows from the boutique. Swim lengths in beams of sunlight flooding through the floorto- ceiling windows, then drift through sensor-operated glass doors to the hydro pool outside. Massage your limbs on jet beds, bubble stations and fierce swan pipes. Emerge onto the decked garden and, after a swift outdoor warm shower, arrange yourself on the soft cream mattresses and sofas for a spot of seriously stylish sunbathing.
The treatment rooms are to the rear of the spa: head back out of the changing rooms and wait on one of the sofas or chaise longues in the spa lounge, admiring the abstract artwork on the walls or flicking through hefty coffee table books and magazines.
My treatment room was cavernous; here I enjoyed an Aromatherapy Associates Experience (50 minutes) which combined Swedish, neuromuscular and lymphatic drainage techniques to leave me feeling utterly relaxed after my journey, but invigorated enough for the evening ahead.
The next day, I had a Moisturising Uniqueness Facial (60 minutes) using products by Swiss skincare company La Vallee. The facial was deeply hydrating and my skin felt as fresh as if I’d been climbing mountains and bathing in freshwater lakes, rather than swanning about in a five-star hotel. La Vallee uses natural active ingredients such as lavender and thyme with Swiss glacier and Henniez spring waters, famous for their rich minerals.
While there are plenty of natural and holistic therapies on the spa menu, Clinic Lémanic offers laser therapies and plastic surgery, as well as non-invasive, result-driven treatments. The tradition of popping to Switzerland for a face lift is alive and well here. And why not: you want to look your best for your rooftop selfie as the sun sets over the lake.
Food is as pretty and scrumptious as the views. Try modern-traditional fare in the Brasserie du Royal from a menu designed by signature chef Marc Haeberlin, who has three Michelin stars. In summer, head to the Sky Lounge to sample gourmet tapas from around the world while drinking in the beautiful views (and the odd glass of something cold and bubbly).
And don’t leave without trying the Swiss wines on the menu, especially the local Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, which taste as crisp and clean as the air.
9th January 2018
Clever, inspiring design, sublime views, a vast, clean and empty pool, solitary relaxation areas to read, write or commune with my muse.
Small talk, discussions about spirituality or astrology, any products containing tea tree oil or aloe (sadly am allergic), busy pools where you can’t do laps.
Behind the scenes