Lucerne has never been so much fan…I mean fun!
The legendary Mandarin Oriental fans greet me at the entrance of the newest luxury hotel in Switzerland – a majestic, freshly renovated Belle Époque building on the shores of Lake Lucerne. Wow, this palace, this logo, this view! I haven’t even entered and I’m already taking pictures. I excuse myself with two smiling doormen in dapper black coattails. They see my enthusiasm and offer to help, I give a sigh of relief. You never know if you disturb, in a five-stars hotel. Definitely not here.
The world’s most luxurious hotel group is now in Lucerne
I catwalk (or so I think) to reach the lobby, following a vaulted white corridor, curious to see the interiors. After a four year renovation, the Mandarin Oriental Palace Luzern is absolutely immaculate. The historic building has a new twist, and light blue, beige and terracotta shades dominate the calm interiors, mirroring the colors of the Swiss nature outside. Old and new harmoniously mixed: Molteni furniture, brass chandeliers, parqueted Swiss oak floors, ivory-white panelled walls, simple ceiling moulding and beautifully restored window frames. The Asian touch is only in details, like the warm welcome towel and green tea.
I check in and go to my room.
How To Get There
Before I describe my room, let’s go one step backward to talk about the hotel location.
I arrived by train and decided to walk, because I didn’t want to miss the best part of the town.
Lucerne is a compact city known for its preserved medieval architecture, its famous covered bridge, Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), built in 1333, and its romantic views on Lake Lucerne amid snowcapped mountains. I could enjoy all that while calmly strolling to MO Luzern, and enjoy some modern art filled gardens, art galleries and numerous swans greeting me from the lake shores.
Another really picturesque aspect of this walk is the boats and paddle steamers, some dating back to the beginning of the 19th century and beautifully preserved or renovated, mostly available for tours or simply to eat. Finally, Lucerne offers the chance to take the world’s steepest cogwheel funicular to the top of Mount Pilatus. I have been in this city countless times, but I still feel there’s something new to do at every visit.
Let’s go back to the Mandarin Oriental Palace Luzern. I was given a Superior Room, which is basically the simplest of them all. I entered and one of the white curtains was slowly dancing to the breeze, revealing the azure waters and a faraway echo of the birds. I had to stop and stare. Just wow. Then I collapsed on the mint green bed and started to observe all the objects in the room – not your usual kind of hotel details. Here I saw a sleek little office in wood, complete with what seemed to me school accessories. There an old-fashioned alarm clock. For toiletries, a swan and some deep green glass soap holders. Drawers mostly came with a little surprise, like a Dyson hairdryer, some dried flowers or fluffy gowns.
The reason why I was in Lucerne was to attend the most famous Swiss Gourmet Festival, S.Pellegrino Sapori Ticino, so a big dinner was waiting for me in the evening. I decided to hit the gym and the Spa first.
Spa and Gym
I first hit the gym and really loved its temperature and scent of clean air (not a secondary detail). I also liked the wooden panels, the big windows overlooking the outdoors, the pleasant side lights (that make you look ten years younger!) and the big round mirror. I did some stretching and weight training, played shorty with the different medicine balls and then I felt I had deserved a trip to the spa.
I always love the moment I open the door to a hotel’s Spa. I normally carry a big camera with me, so I hide it somewhere in a bag, to make sure nobody is there the moment I take it out. I was lucky because the Spa was quiet for the first ten minutes, so I could observe and touch everything, and take some photos. The central part is made of striped, white and grey marble, with pale pink LED lights showing you the way. A steam room, sauna, experience showers, treatment rooms and relaxing areas with light background music and warm beds complete the ambience.
I was spoiled rotten by a stellar team of chefs that prepared a full tasting menu working together. The “boss” of the evening was obviously the resident chef, Israeli young star Gilad Peled. With him, Nicola Leanza of Restaurant Seven, Ascona, Andrea Bertarini of Ristorante Montalbano, Stabio, Diego della Schiava of The View Lugano, and Andrea Pedrina of La Dispensa, Lugano.
Here some impressions of the food by photographer Giorgia Panzera.
I was surprised by how effortlessly and efficiently the team worked together, considering how young most of them are, and especially bearing in mind that the hotel has just re-opened. When they saw that I was keen to chat, they often asked me how my impressions were, and if I had any suggestion or criticism. When I lost my door key while taking pictures (a classic – I always do that) they replaced it before I realised I had lost it.
So if you want to be one of the first guests of the Mandarin Oriental Palace Luzern to be able to report about this mostly talked about place, don’t be afraid: your stay will be deeply relaxing, inspiring, immersed into nature and beauty, and most of all…fan!