The most important thing about a trip to Zurich is to have a well appointed and centrally located home base. We recently passed through Zurich for a few days, mixing a little bit of business with pleasure and enjoying the city. When looking for the best location and service in the city there is one answer – Baur au Lac. Baur au Lac gives you the hands down best proximity from all sites, dining destinations and city hot spots while offering the best service and amenities in the city. From their onsite 2 Michelin star restaurant, to the breathtaking views of the Lake Zurich, Baur au Lac was the one stop answer to the perfect visit to Zurich. In this post we will break down the Hotel, dining and great local finds that made this trip perfect for myself and Alexis.
One of the first places I like to start a search for a great resort hotel when we travel is the Leading Hotels of the World. We have had great experiences at all properties around the world, and unlike other larger chain hotels, these hotels maintain their independent character and charm while adhering to the highest luxury standards. A quick look through the selection in Zurich and Baur au Lac was the obvious choice.
The Hotel was founded in 1844 and has been kept in the Baur family til' present day. This is the history we love to come across when in search of a hotel. On top of that, the location is perfectly central which allowed me to quickly run to meetings in the afternoon, while Lex had all the 5-star amenities and luxuries to stay comfortable back at the Hotel. We loved to walk through the front garden overlooking Lake Zurich and taking in the views of the hotel even during our winter visit. The hotel's grand architecture and beauty of the exterior quickly transforms to a warm and inviting interior. Our room had breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps and Lake Zurich. With the perfect view to wake up to with an espresso in the morning, what more could you ask for? Heated marble floors and a soaking tub made for an essential stop in the evening to wind back down. The amenities of the hotel were always perfect, and hit the spot for every occasion.
As you enter Baur au Lac you're welcomed with a gorgeous lobby and beyond that is Le Hall: the hotel's gorgeous dining and lounge area where they serve afternoon tea and culinary delights, and each wall is adorned with unique artwork.
On that note, let’s jump into the onsite restaurant, one of the best dining experiences of our lives - Au Pavillon! We write a lot about food on the blog, but wow, Au Pavillon is one of the most amazing dining experiences we have ever had, no exaggeration. The restaurant is situated right along the Schanzengraben, with windows surrounding you from all angles. The atmosphere is grand, with draperies, bright lilac hues, beautiful abstract artwork, and details beyond what the eye can see. Sous-chef Maximilian Müller was on duty to take us through a flavor roller coaster, with perfect execution and balance. Being that it was black truffle season when we visited in late January, their regular menu was supplemented with an additional black truffle menu that was out of this world.
When our meal started with a selection of fresh bread and house made black truffle butter, I knew we were in for a treat. The perfect amuse-bouche welcomed us, a flaky pastry embellished with caviar. Following our amuse-bouche we were served beet-ravioli. And then the dining began...
Our first consisted of couple of our favorites - vichyssoise and duck liver. The vichy was featured on the black truffle menu and leaves you inspired with both flavor and beauty. The duck liver was amongst the best we have ever had anywhere, with hints of cacao and garnished with edible flowers, just perfect.
The black truffle risotto followed, along with one of their classics, the pulled crab. The risotto incorporated white mushroom with Cantal cheese, enhanced with fresh black truffle table-side that was astoundingly aromatic. The staple pulled crab was a savory twist on an elegantly executed classic adorned with osciétre caviar. And then there's the wine... its safe to say that for the wine lover and wine connoisseur in all of us, Au Pavillon has a perfectly curated selection to pair with each and every taste. The sommelier and each glass was intelligently paired and explained per dish.
Moving into the main event we didn’t think it could get any better, then, the veal arrived. Lex was interested in trying a traditional dish and I loved the idea of the black truffle menu veal item. The chef brought us the Swiss Veal, their signature, and the Black Truffle Veal Cheek.
Delicately braised veal cheek drenched in black truffle, mustard vinaigrette, and beer radish. The famous Swiss veal loin was a must for us, and wow will it blow you away with the traditional røsti and savory gravy. The sea bass was perfect, delicate, and simply excellent with root veggies and fresh herbs.
The amazing thing about Au Pavillon is that it is one of those rare places where you are left in bewilderment post meal wondering if you had a favorite dish. Every single thing was out of this world spectacular. When we asked each other, we thought long and hard before concluding - we had no answer. Was it the vichyssoise? Unlike any I have ever had, layered in delectable black truffle? Was it the melt in your mouth crab? Perhaps the Swiss veal? The all-out best rendition of the must have Swiss classic! Or was it the veal cheek, each bite melting in your mouth and EXPLODING with flavor.
Then the desert, to top off the amazing event we had the sorbet trio of exotic fruit and a selection of rare cheeses. The cheese cart is one of those things that just makes you smile as they roll it table side for you to personalize your selection. An amazing variety will leave any cheese lover in heaven. Then the exotic fruit sorbet, the perfect plate to satisfy the craving for a touch of sweetness. This dining extravaganza, we assure you, will be the hands down the highlight of your trip to Zurich!
To round out your dining we will leave you with a few other sure-bets. The first is Kronenhalle. A short 5 minutes’ walk from Baur au Lac, Kronenhalle serves wonderful traditional Swiss fair with a great atmosphere and an intriguing art collection. Service is upbeat and the wine list is well curated. Go for the traditional Swiss dishes and you won’t be disappointed.
Another great option Cantinetta Antinori. We wanted to change things up a bit and have some Italian and Cantinetta Antinori was our pick for a promising evening of pastas and traditional fare. Seafood and meats are wonderful, and the pasta is divine. Again, great wine list and ambiance is on point. Also located nearby in the heart of Zurich, don’t miss it!
Finally, we will leave you with a couple great bar ideas to start off or cap off your evening...
Old Crow was fantastic. Great selection of cocktails and sprits in a charming and cozy setting. Next up, Rive Gauche Bar. This was yet another wonderful offering of the Baur au Lac. Great cocktails in a comfortable and upscale setting. Dim lighting and dark wood, you know the drill. We went for house favorite cocktails and were impressed with everything! Of note, Rive Gauche also serves dinner, offering a great menu and more casual option to offset an elegant evening at Pavillon, and in the warmer months opens the Rive Gauche Terrasse.
Armed with the perfect stay, dining, and drinks, we invite you to explore the charm and beauty of Zurich. Take time in the afternoons to stroll up and down the Limmat River, stop in the 12th century Grossmünster Cathedral, and stroll the Sechseläutenplatz - the largest town square in the city with a beautiful backdrop of the Zurich Opera House and Lake. Lastly, don’t forget to check out Bahnhofstrasse, one of the most exclusive shopping avenues in Europe, if not the world. And last but certainly not least, make Baur au Lac your place to stay whilst visiting this wonderful city - you won't regret it, this place is perfect!