Hotel Review: Zurich’s Urban Oasis
Summary: Perched high above Switzerland's commercial capital, Atlantis by Giardino marries old-world elegance with...

Perched high above Zurich, Atlantis by Giardino marries old-world elegance with world-class service and some of the city’s best dining experiences.

A Page From the History Books

Atlantis by Giardino, part of the Swiss hotel group Giardino, which also has hotels in Ascona, Lake Maggiore, and Champfer, is the modern incarnation of Zurich’s most famous hotel. The Atlantis, with its hilltop perch overlooking the city, was the place to see and be seen in the 1970s, with the hotel seducing more than its fair share of celebrities, musicians and power brokers.

Today, thanks to its post-war modernist architecture, world-class dining, elegantly appointed guest rooms, and iconic indoor swimming pool, it continues to catch the eye of the jet-set and power brokers that visit the city.

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Reinterpreted for Today’s Business Traveller

Zurich has always been a city with a stuffy exterior that does a decent job of hiding its more decadent side and the hotel played its role, welcoming the likes of Freddie Mercury, Elton John, ABBA, Muhammad Ali, Steve McQueen, Shirley McLaine, Eric Clapton as well as state leaders and royalty.

After closing in 2000 and being used for everything from a private home to a refugee centre, the hotel made a triumphant return in 2015, complete with a breathtaking new look that pays homage to its past while also setting the scene for its future.

Atlantis by Giardino Zurich

Location, Location

It’s great if you don’t need to be stepping out in the middle of the city every day and just want to be able to dip in and out as you please. The Atlantis by Giardino is located amidst landscaped grounds at the foot of Uetliberg, Zurich’s highest peak. With the forested mountain behind and the sprawl of the city below, the hotel offers an urban retreat vibe, with spectacular views from guest rooms, but don’t worry, downtown Zurich is only 15 minutes away by hotel shuttle or the local train, which stops just down the slope.

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A New Visual Experience at Every Turn

Minimalist yet infinitely elegant, the Atlantis by Giardino features iconic period architecture by architects Hans and Annemarie Hubacher and Peter Issler, including an acclaimed central spiral staircase in polished stone that connects the three wings, as well as sublime interiors by The Gallery HBA – think glass-encased fireplaces, mesmerizing objets d’art, including a pair of imposing brass lions at the entrance, furnishing in leather, mohair, and timber, and black and white photography that captures the visits of the good and great.

Atlantis by Giardino Zurich

Rooms Fit for Royalty

The hotel’s 95 guest rooms and suites are a blissful balance between residential and luxury. Dressed in beige leather, turquoise, copper and dark timber with modern, custom-made Italian furnishings by Molteni, my Junior Suite featured twin balconies, a spacious work desk, flat-screen televisions, complimentary non-alcohol minibar and a cavernous bathroom with polished stone bath and walk-in shower with Dipiù Spa toiletries.

There are all the amenities you’d expect from a world-class hotel, from a coffee machine and wool rugs on the balcony seats to intimate lighting settings, high-speed wifi, and striking art pieces, with the severity of the original design, softened with brass, leather, and softly-curving timber accents.

Oh, did we mention that the Atlantis by Giardino is also home to Europe’s largest suite? At 1,975sqm, The Royal Residence comes with its own elevator and garage access, a dedicated Rolls-Royce Phantom, sweeping balconies with views of the lake, and eight opulent guest rooms, as well as living rooms, sitting rooms and an elegant dining room that sits 20.

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Something From the Bar

Hide & Seek, one of the hotel’s two restaurants, also features an elegant cocktail lounge with a roaring fireplace for those chilly Swiss nights and an expansive terrace for the warmer evenings. The bar, which is backed by striking vintage safety deposit boxes, a nod to Zurich’s banking industry, has a staggering spirits collection, but we suggest you go local with a gin and tonic using organic Swiss Breil Pur gin, made with hand-picked botanicals from the alps, including alpine rose, chocolate mint, and juniper. The bar also features a separate cigar lounge if you fancy a Cohiba.

Avante-Garde Gastronomy

As we mentioned, the hotel has two restaurants and they are quite different from each other. Hide & Seek (below), often home to live music, produces local and seasonal cuisine with contemporary flair, with many dishes taking their influences from timeless Ayurvedic practices – think smoked quinoa with parsley, lemon stock, and horseradish; aubergine mousse with thyme, onion, lime, and crunchy soya flakes; glazed Bernese Oberland lamb knuckle with white kidney beans, bell pepper foam and mint; and one of the best beef tartars we’ve ever had. Hide & Seek is also where the hotel serves its leisurely breakfasts.

Atlantis by Giardino Zurich

For something a little different, Ecco is a multi-award winning fine-dining restaurant with two Michelin stars and 18 Gault Millau points, making it one of the hottest tables in town. Dedicated to the aromatic cuisine of acclaimed German chef Rolf Fliegauf, which is executed by executive chef Stefan Heilemann, Ecco delivers seasonal ingredients and plenty of inspired technique, complemented by an impressive wine selection.

Highlights of the menu include salmon trout and pink gamba passion fruit with sweet potato and mint; North Sea cod with butternut pumpkin, yellow curry, and kaffir lime; and bison filet with parsley root, morels, and bone marrow.

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Service That’s Intuitive & Intelligent

Service at Atlantis by Giardino is old-world yet intuitive; the front desk is manned by staff with their finger on the pulse of the city who are able to make insider recommendations at a moment’s notice. Up in the bar, you’ll find bartenders with a passion for local distillers and traditional ingredients, and in the adjacent restaurant well-trained and attentive waiters maintain a perfect balance between being approachable and invisible.

Atlantis by Giardino Zurich

A Place to Meet

Ideally suited for smaller meetings away from the distractions of the city, the hotel boasts three meeting spaces, including a boardroom that accommodates up to 22 people, a banquet room that caters to 40, and a main event hall that offers events for up to 200 complete with a terrace break out area.

After Hours

You can be as active or as somnolent as you like. The mountain out back offers great hiking and mountain biking trails and the hotel offers complimentary bike hire. You can also nip into the city thanks to regular hotel shuttles, or make a beeline for the Ayurvedic by Giardino spa, where treatments range from herbal and oil scrubs to the AVEDA Stress-Fix Body Massage, a whole body ritual that combined classic massage, deep-tissue techniques, and foot reflexology.

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If you’re looking to just collect your thoughts, make for the hotel’s stunning indoor pool, one of the county’s most famous, or, if the temperature is right, the 25-meter outdoor pool, which also has its own bar.

Atlantis by Giardino, Zürich, Switzerland, from CHF460 (US$476) per night, twin share. 

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About the Author

Nick Walton

Nick Walton is Group Managing Editor of Artemis Communications, a leading boutique magazine and content solution company and publisher of The Art of Business Travel. A former travel editor of the South China Morning Post, he heads up the group's travel and lifestyle magazines, which include Alpha Men Asia, The Edition, Mirandus, Ikhlas, The Journal and Explorer Magazine.