What do you get when you mix a grand Victorian lakeside manor house built in 1899 and inventive modern architect Lord Foster? Answer: a stunning hotel that has kept the grace of the original building while surrounding it with two huge modern wings full of light and sinuous curves.
What’s on offer
The huge spa covers 4,000 square metres… yes metres! That’s bigger than some hotels. There are 18 treatment rooms and two spa suites, plus a spa library, café, gym, pool and three heat experience areas.
There are separate ladies' and gentlemen's heat areas in the changing rooms, plus a communal facility in the main spa. Since this is Europe, the single-sex heat areas are ‘clothes optional’, but clearly labelled as such, and very elegant, with hot tubs, footbaths, steam rooms, experience showers and even a fireplace to relax beside. Out by the pool, in the mixed-sex hot area, there are sinuously-curved experience showers with sparkly gold tiles, a steam room, a sanarium and a ‘snow paradise’.
The pool is wedge-shaped and 20-metres at the longest point. Swim from the narrow point towards a wall of glass where the light streams in. Outside on the sheltered terrace are two hot pools and one cold plunge pool.
Sunbeds line the terrace area so you can lie back and look over the valley down to the lake.
The meditation walk is well worth trying: a high, narrow passageway curls round and round until you feel almost lost. Then suddenly you reach the circular relaxation area which is lined with mirrors and has a domed roof, so you feel you are inside a light, bright egg. Relax on the cushions and let the light lift your mood.
Tell us about the treatments
I had a La Prairie facial, which was so much more than just a facial. It included a foot massage, a lovely back massage and an arm massage -- a little bit of everything; perfect for anyone short of time.
Christina, my therapist, spent some time assessing my skin and my lifestyle choices: skin dehydrated and a bit neglected; lifestyle far too much travelling and, yes, apparently I suffer from a lack of fresh air and sunshine.
The back massage was detailed and carefully done. Christina seemed able to sense where my tension was and worked on those areas without the deep and painful massage that you sometimes get. Instead she worked a bit, went to another area and then came back to the tense spots to work a little more, until gradually everywhere seemed to relax.
The facial included a foaming cleanser which reached every fine line on my face and left it feeling sparkling clean. A steaming session opened the pores sufficiently for Christina to extract some of the milia I tend to suffer from. While the face mask was on, Christina massaged my hands and arms, and then finished with a lifting face massage.
Certainly the end result was a much fresher skin which looked plumper… those ageing, saggy hollows around my cheeks had largely disappeared and my skin looked brighter and clearer.
The spa offers a wide range of treatments and uses upmarket brands La Prairie, Kerstin Florian, Amala and Horst Kirchberger.
The Garden restaurant is open all day and offers a wide range of meals with an interesting Swiss twist. The crayfi sh cooked with melon, dill, coriander and green curry was inventive and light. Meat-eaters should make a beeline for the signature venison dish. The meal package includes a three-course dinner and a drink in the bar afterwards -- worth a visit for the Harry Potter-style ceiling with floating candles. For a grand occasion head for The Restaurant which has two Michelin stars.
An early morning dip in the hot tub on the terrace, watching the clouds clear over the lake while steam rises around you.
The amazing art around the hotel: there are over 100 sculptures and paintings and the list includes originals by Damien Hurst, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.
Who would like it?
Spa weekenders: Zurich is just over an hour by plane and the Dolder Grand is just 20 minutes from the airport, so you can be in the spa within a couple of hours of leaving the UK.
Medi-spa enthusiasts: the Dolder Grand offers four themed spa days: Relax, Vitality, Beauty, Detox. All include medical consultations, hormone tests and ultrasound.