Review: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva

With a design concept created around art, time and nature, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva, has been thoughtfully renovated to introduce a new era in its evolving legacy, writes Codelia Mantsebo

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva is a blend of history and prestige, but unlike the city’s other hotels; this mid-19th century property is not stuck in the past. The Hotel de la Paix marks the first hotel in Switzerland for the Ritz-Carlton brand, and its renovation carries a boutique quality, with an unexpected youthfulness. Its contemporary re-design complements the original Italian architecture with a modern but tasteful nod to the hotel’s rich history.

For history buffs, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, located on the storied shores of Lake Geneva, is a perfect example of the irenic charm of Geneva. From the day the Manz family opened its doors in 1865, it has stood at the crossroads of history, inspiring many memorable gatherings, including the International Congress of Peace, and has welcomed many high-profile guests, notably Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly.

A deeper look into the hotel’s design reveals the hotel’s history and the nature that surrounds the city.
With Lake Geneva at its doorstep and Mont-Blanc as its backdrop, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix’s affair with nature is more of a reality than an illusion. While there are carpets designed with an abstract illustration of the skyline of the Swiss Alps, seeing these very mountains from the comfort of your bed is a real possibility, as many of the rooms face out to Lake Geneva and the mountains beyond.

The exquisite culinary delicacies and floral ornaments in the hotel enable a remarkable synergy between the interior and surrounding landscape. A collaboration with a local flower maker and only working with local market suppliers add more value to the hotel’s concept of nature. On the culinary front, Executive Chef Alessio Corda delivers a creative menu enhancing local products, using organic and seasonal ingredients, while The Living Bar & Kitchen is placed for a leisurely farmer’s market breakfast or light lunch overlooking the lake. With the Fiskebar, the hotel is the first to introduce a new culinary concept to the city – modelled on a Scandinavian fish market; it has a relaxed, trendy atmosphere with an open kitchen where bold Nordic fusion dishes are created.

Master chocolatier Philippe Pascoët’s chocolate shop resides in the hotel lobby, and it aligns with the hotel’s natural theme. The chocolatier infuses organic herbs and spices such as rosemary, basil and coriander into his creations – offering guests the pleasure of discovering the local gastronomic specialty: Swiss chocolate.

Swiss watchmakers have firmly established themselves as the world’s leading horologists, and the hotel doesn’t shy away from celebrating this. Most of the suites have a sand timer, and this detail runs throughout the hotel right down to the dining room (my English tea came with an hourglass to alert me when the tea was ready).

Alongside time and nature, art is an equally important theme here; there are paintings of Geneva landscapes, with plenty more collected locally from exhibitions in the city. In the hallways of the hotel lobby, lies an exhibition of tapestries featuring historical figures that played a role in attaining peace, from Giuseppe Garibaldi to Victor Hugo.
Once a library, the building goes back to its humble beginnings with shelves of books available for its guests.

The hotel’s 75 rooms and 14 suites have been re-styled with a sleek modern design, with floor-to-ceiling windows that fill each room with natural light. Even the hotels’ dramatic centrepiece, a drop chandelier, was refreshed with a striking architectural profile where circular shapes were added to provide more light to the floors. Grace Kelly Suite, named after the Princess of Monaco who was a regular guest at the hotel, is the hotel’s Presidential Suite, offering a sophisticated art deco design and gold leaf gilding to create an elegant sanctuary.
My room offered an unparalleled view of the famous lake, mountains and Jet d’eau. Muted tones of pale blue, warm grey and mellow mocha provide the setting for a mix of old and new features.

However, not all is perfect at the peace hotel, the disadvantage of being on the busy Quai du Mont Blanc is the traffic noise from the balcony – but the double-glazing ensured I was not disturbed at night. There’s no spa or pool, but there is a fitness room – which came in handy after indulging in Pascoët’s sweet treats.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix captures the essence of Geneva, representing all that Geneva has to offer through the concept of art, time and nature. The Hotel de la Paix has balanced world-class service for which The Ritz Carlton is renowned with a modern, feel-at-home luxury, which is refined but not ostentatious.

Codelia Mantsebo is Online Writer at Spear’s