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A hotel rich with history; With its blend of rich history and modern luxury, the Beau Rivage Palace is one of Switzerland's most glamorous spots. KIM CARMICHAEL spent a weekend there.

SIPPING chilled local white wine, we sat on a sunlit terrace overlooking Lake Geneva.

And glancing across the glistening water to a panoramic view of the Alps, it was clear why the Beau Rivage Palace counts itself as one of the world's leading hotels.

The grand building - completed in 1861 - stands majestically against the sk yline.

As soon as we set foot in the glamorous lobby, we found ourselves transported to a world of luxury.

The hotel is in Lausanne, a city known for its vibrant and attractive lifestyle, on the shores of the stunning Lake Geneva.

Welcoming well-heeled guests from around the world, the hotel sits grandly in the port of Ouchy on the edge of Lausanne, just a short train ride from Geneva airport.

The palace's charms have attracted many a celebrity and dignitary over the years. We were following in the footsteps of past guests including Coco Chanel, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Nelson Mandela, and the President of Argentina, to name but a few.

Writers Noel Coward and W Somerset Maugham not only stayed in the hotel but also featured it in their work.

And we could see why - with 169 rooms, three restaurants, two bars and a world-class spa, the Beau Rivage Palace was truly inspiring.

Despite its rich history and imposingly grand exterior, the hotel was friendly and modern.

The staff gave us a very warm reception, swiftly welcoming us for our weekend stay and showing us to our room.

And if we thought the rest of the hotel was impressive, our junior suite was incredible.

From the full-length windows, opening on to a balcony where we enjoyed clear views across Lake Geneva, to the generous array of Bvlgari toiletries in the marble bathroom, the suite was stunning.

The rooms all feature electric blinds operated by bedside controls, meaning guests can wake up in the morning and reveal the spectacular view at the touch of a button - a lovely way to start to the day.

After unpacking in our fabulous suite, it was time to explore more of the hotel.

With a legacy stretching back 150 years, Beau Rivage Palace is steeped in history and tradition.

Linked to the development of the port of Ouchy, plans for a hotel began in 1857, when the local consortium bought back extensive tracts of land from English landowners the Allott family. Achille de la Harpe and Jean-Baptiste Bartholoni won an architectural competition for building the hotel and the Beau Rivage opened four years later. Necessary expansion led to the construction of an annex, called "Le Chalet" in 1864. In 1908 the Palace Wing, inspired by the neo-baroque movement and integrating key elements of Art Nouveau, was added to the hotel by architects Jost, Bezencenet and Schnell. At the beginning of the 20th century the Beau Rivage Palace was the site of international conferences about the reconstruction of Europe. But one of the most interesting aspects of the hotel history was during the First World War, when a temporary end was brought to the era of decadence. The hotel became a haven for refugees, many of whom were previously well-to-do guests who because of the situation were occasionally forced to leave their baggage behind as payment upon departure. But, judging by the designer sunglasses, watches and bags on display, today's guests clearly don't have that problem. The hotel is unashamedly luxurious and guests are willing to pay top prices to enjoy its charms. One of the most popular spots in the hotel is the Cinq Mondes Spa, which was the first of its kind in Switzerland when it opened in 2005. Offering health and beauty rituals from around the world, the spa boasts eight treatment rooms, a VIP suite with Japanese bath for two, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a fitness room. I enjoyed the Massage Sublime, a 50-minute treatment inspired by Polynesian island healers, which certainly left me feeling relaxed. The Beau Rivage Palace has a range of dining options. Restaurants include Anne-Sophie Pic at The Beau Rivage Palace, which opened in April 2009 following an extensive refurbishment. Anne-Sophie Pic is the only female French chef to gain threestars. In Miyako, meanwhile, guests can enjoy the finest sushi and sashimi freshly prepared by Japanese chefs. Next door to Beau Rivage is Htel Angleterre & Rsidence, a sister hotel that is home to L'Accademia, an Italian restaurant where guests can sample Mediterranean-inspired cooking.

But it was Caf Beau Rivage that attracted us. With its fresh new look unveiled in March 2011, the elegant brasserie offered a more informal dining atmosphere. Seated on a table on the large outdoor terrace facing the lake, we could see why the restaurant attracts locals as well as hotel guests. After a glass of champagne to start, we were delighted to find the food was equally as stunning as the setting. A starter of tuna tartar with wasabi was delicious, while my partner opted for the pan-fried foie gras. A main course of lamb was full of flavour and perfectly cooked, while my other half thoroughly enjoyed the veal with Italian cheese risotto. The vodka-infused lemon sorbet provided a refreshing end to the meal. With so much on offer at the hotel, it would have been easy to spend the weekend at Beau Rivage Palace, but we decided to set off to take in the surrounding areas. Ouchy is a vibrant resort, with shops, bars and restaurants dotted along the edge of the lake. Boats sail across the water from the port just a short walk from the hotel and regular services travel to the French town of Evian, home of the famous mineral water.

Ouchy's attractions include Denantou Park with its dramatic Thai pavilion and the Elysee Museum which, situated in a 16th Century mansion house, features photographic exhibitions. Most interesting, however, is the Olympic Museum, home to interactive exhibitions, documents, films and collections of precious objects dating from Greek antiquity up until modern times. As well as information about the history of the games, it houses memorabilia including the shirt Usain Bolt wore in Beijing in 2008 when he smashed the 100m world record. After a relaxing weekend in the beautiful surroundings of Lausanne and the Beau Rivage Palace, sadly it was time to leave. But like the rich and famous who have flocked to Beau Rivage Palace for 150 years, we'd love to one day return.


SPOT OF LUXURY The terrace of the grand Beau Rivage Palace is the perfect place to sit and relax while taking in the hotel's gardens
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 8, 2011
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