This new luxury lakeside hotel is perfect for an autumn break in Switzerland


Although I don’t own a hotel or a dog, and I don’t have children, I imagine naming a hotel is significantly more stressful than naming a puppy, but hardly less than naming a baby. You want to do it right. Geneva’s latest five-star hotel, which opened last week, is called the Woodward, for no apparent reason. Yet somehow it works. It reminds me of the old gag: why does Edward Woodward have so many Ds in his name? Because without them he would be E-war Woo-war. I would love to hear Al Pacino tell this joke, in his best female scent, silently then screaming, with a prolonged, growing Eeee-waaar culminating in an ecstatic Woo-war!

This brick and mortar Woodward has a far-reaching woo-war factor. It’s outside properly – a Belle Epoque cream in a privileged location on the right bank of Lake Geneva just after the Bains des Pâquis. Built in 1901 as a large hotel, it was later transformed into apartments, then into offices, then into a bank. Despite its long frontage by the lake, the entrance is on one side of the main street. “How discreet,” you will think when you arrive for the first time. “How charming on a small scale and discreet. Perhaps discreet. But, as you quickly realize, there is nothing small or low-key about this place.

After you cross the threshold, the ceiling above you has a good height of 26 feet – you can’t be entirely sure, because a crystal chandelier the size of a rainwater tank in the room. hinterland obscures the view. The Victorian-style elevator, richly covered in crimson lacquer, which you enter a moment later, may have been transplanted, still beating, from the Savoy in London, so much does it resemble the ‘ascending room’ of Richard D’Oyly Carte – the Mechanical Wonder of the 19th Century that justified him fully loading previously inconvenient rooms on the upper floors.

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