The Dolder Grand: Legendary Luxury Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland

Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich, Switzerland

 Pable Faccinetto

The Dolder Grand is a legendary hotel in a great city. It is city resort atop Lake Zurich in prosperous, placid Zurich in Switzerland.

First opened in 1899, The Dolder Grand reopened in in 2008 after a four-year transformation by "starchitect" Sir Norman Foster. The Dolder Grand now has several sections: the original grand hotel building and two circular, sleekly modern new wings.
• See the definition of a grand hotel

The 173-room Dolder Grand is full-service. It offers two restaurants including a two-Michelin-star kitchen; a stylized cocktail bar; a dazzling 40,000 square-foot spa; a 9-hole golf course; a winter ice rink; and five clay tennis courts.

The Dolder Grand is set on a mountain that looms above Zurich. Guests take an old-fashioned funicular car up and down for jaunts to the city. The hotel flanks a "green zone" park and nature reserve, giving it an exclusive, hilltop hideaway feel.

Given the Dolder Grand's slightly removed location, this hotel is not ideal for guests who want to spend their stay getting to know Zurich. Rather, The Dolder Grand is just the spot for a relaxing weekend near Zurich. Guests find it easy to shift to a lower gear, savoring the hotel's views of the lake and surrounding Alps, indulging in the resort's temple-like spa, and feasting on fresh fare and multi-course tasting menus in refined restaurants.

The Dolder Grand can be surprising. It feels undeniably grand to stride into the chateau-like main building with its meticulously restored marble entryway. But there are whimsical touches to this seemingly buttoned-up beauty that break the monotony of formality. A modern sensibility is contributed by design elements like color-splashed modern rooms, curved hallways, tree-branch latticework, and even a rock-and-roll-themed Rolling Stones suite.

The Dolder Grand attracts a dapper European crowd of the well-suited banker variety, some of whom attend black-tie events in the hotel's cupola-topped ballroom. As befitting the Swiss, the hotel is tight-lipped about its steady celebrity clientele. Mary J. Blige and Leonardo DiCaprio are known to have stayed at The Dolder Grand. And recently the hotel has touted its inclusion in the American film version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Daniel Craig.

The independently managed Dolder Grand is a member of Design Hotels and Leading Hotels of the World.

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Is The Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland Your Kind of Hotel?

View from hotel room at The Dolder Grand in Zurich, Switzerland
© The Dolder Grand/Stefan Schmidlin

Will The Dolder Grand Be Your Ideal Hotel in Zurich?

The answer is probably yes if:

  • You'd like to stay in a discreet, hushed getaway close to (but not right in) Zurich
  • You do not require a Zurich location in the city center
  • You love the convenience of a top-notch restaurant and bar right in your hotel
  • You work in a design field; your taste runs to design hotels; or you're an architecture connoisseur
  • Or you have a taste for dignified grand hotels (The Dolder Grand is both historic and cutting-edge)
  • You'll need to get some work done, preferably in a soothing room well served with wifi
  • You're curious to see whether Swiss spas measure up to their reputation (this one will)
  • You like the idea of indulging in a gym workout, lap swim, and/or sauna every morning of your stay
  • You'd get into playing some golf, tennis, or snow sports right on the hotel property

The answer is probably no if:

  • You prefer (or need) to stay close to the city action in Zurich
  • You've got more than one sophisto tot with you, and need a family-oriented resort
  • You want your hotel to have a social vibe, sceney clientele, and boisterous nightlife

Next: how can The Dolder Grand be both a 19th-century and 21st-century hotel? >>

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02 of 06

The Dolder Grand, a Historic Landmark Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland

Dolder Grand Hotel Zurich historic photo
© Adrian Michel/Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Public Domain.

The Amazing Legacy of The Dolder Grand

Like the city of Zurich and the watchmaking tradition it's famous for, the Dolder Grand embodies precise operation and exacting details. For the weary traveler, this means a worry-free experience.

Perfectly thought-out details are the rule. Rooms are ultra-quiet. Elevators are nearly silent, lighting is well-calibrated, design is elegant yet comfortable. And of course, everything arrives on time.

Originally built in 1899 as a Kurhaus (Swiss spa retreat), The Dolder Grand has a storied history as an Alpine getaway for European dignitaries and royalty. (Sir Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein stayed here.)

Swiss financier Urs E. Schwarzenbach purchased The Dolder Grand in 2001. He engaged famed architect Sir Norman Foster to mastermind a thorough facelift. Foster tore down various latter-day expansions, restored the 1899 main building, and added two spectacular new structures, a Spa Wing and Golf Wing.

Next: see what guest rooms and suites are like at The Dolder Grand hotel >>

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03 of 06

Rooms, Suites, & Service at The Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland

Hotel room at The Dolder Grand in Zurich Switzerland
© Sara Liss

What the Rooms Are Like at The Dolder Grand

The Dolder Grand's 173 rooms and suites are spread over four floors in three buildings - the historic, turreted main building and the hotel's spherical new wings.

A typical room at The Dolder Grand is a streamlined affair with elegantly spare décor: dark hardwood floors, cream-colored furniture, marble bathrooms, and shots of color.

The bedroom area has a queen or king bed. Mattresses are comfortably on the firm side, with silky sheets, down pillows, and European duvets instead of blankets.

Rooms are high-tech, with two flatscreen TVs (one doubles as the bathroom mirror). A touch-control remote commands various room options such as heating, wakeup alarm and windowshades.

Junior Suites at the Dolder Grand have curved white leather couches, desks overlooking floor-to-ceiling windows, spacious balconies with panoramic views, and welcome amenities of bowls of fruit.

The bathrooms are a study in Zen opulence: chocolate marble sinks, sculptural fixtures, and tall windows framing Lake Zurich or Alpine mountain vistas. Large white whirlpool tubs come with complimentary bath salts and soaking oils. The separate shower features multiple water jets and an indulgent steam-shower option.

Guests seeking a high-roller experience can reserve a hotel suite inspired by famous personalities (the artist Alberto Giacometti or Giulietta Masina, Signora of Federico Fellini). The black-and-pink Suite 100 radiates London swagger with its Rolling Stones theme (yes, that's a Keith Richards-signed guitar in the corner) and its groovy Mod furniture.

Standard room amenities at The Dolder Grand include:

  • A large closet
  • Ample drawer space
  • Free wifi access
  • TV and DVD player
  • iPod dock
  • Safe
  • Minibar
  • Robes
  • Windows that open and heating/AC you can control
  • Nightly turndown service

Next: how good is the dining at The Dolder Grand hotel? Let's say it's…grand >>

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04 of 06

Dining at The Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland

© The Dolder Grand/Stefan Schmidlin.

Delicious Dining at The Dolder Grand

The Dolder Grand has two restaurants, both outstanding. The Restaurant has a simple name but the rare two Michelin stars. Chef Heiko Nieder's flavor-charged modern cuisine features dishes like lobster with strawberry shavings and finely diced beetroot with pomegranate.

The Garden Restaurant, helmed by Chef Gion Fetz, is The Dolder Grand's versatile all-day restaurant. Dinner is offered indoors and out, weather permitting. Guests can relish restorative breakfasts in the serene dining room and savor dainty lunches on the inviting outdoor terrace.

A Garden Restaurant lunch might include a salad with chanterelles followed by spring chicken filled with ricotta cheese over tagliolini pasta with olives and tomatoes. Dinner veers into haute territory: air-dried local Grison beef with watermelon, summer venison patties with spaetzli and mountain cranberries. And for dessert, coconut-kaffir lime pudding with strawberries and cassis sorbet.

Afternoon tea is served in The Dolder Grand's tranquil, stylish lobby. Drinks are mixed in the Film Noir-ish bar,. awash in candles and glossy black tables. A small café in the spa serves light fare like sandwiches and fresh-squeezed fruit juices.

Jet-setting parents take note: toddler guests at The Dolder Grand get to perch in Norwegian-designed Stokke high chairs, possibly the handsomest kid seats on the market.

Next: if you love spas, prepare to be wowed by the spa at The Dolder Grand hotel >>

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05 of 06

Spa & Fitness at The Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland

The Dolder Grand Was Built for Relaxation and Recreation

Arguably, the Swiss invented the modern spa. And Dolder Grand guests can easily spend their entire hotel stay "taking the waters" at the hotel's seductive spa and fitness center. This cathedral of relaxation occupies an impressive, 40,000-square-foot space.

Designed by American star spa designer Sylvia Sepielli, the pampering campus offers numerous spa delights:

  • An extensive menu of spa services for face and body
  • 21 treatment rooms; couples' suites have a whirlpool, mud bath, snail-shaped shower, and TV den with fireplace
  • Hot saunas and a Finnish-style "snow paradise" ice sauna
  • Herbal steam baths
  • Indoor and outdoor whirlpools
  • Fragrant, sinus-clearing aroma pools
  • Stand-up solarium pods
  • Sunaburos, Japanese-inspired tubs filled with warm pebbles
  • Japanese kotatsu footbaths
  • Hydrotherapy jet showers, steam showers, chilled "cooldown showers"
  • Indulgent locker rooms

Fitness options at The Dolder Grand include a:

  • State-of-the-art fitness center
  • 25-meter (82-foot) indoor lap pool with views of Zurich and Lake Zurich
  • Two airy studios for classes such as yoga and Pilates
  • Meditation room and relaxation lounges with fireplaces and blankets

Next: where and how to connect with The Dolder Grand >>

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06 of 06

Connect with The Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland

Lobby of The Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich,Switzerland
© The Dolder Grand/Peter Hebeisen
  • The Dolder Grand's website
  • The Dolder Grand on Facebook
  • On Twitter
  • By phone: +41 44 456 60 00
  • Or toll-free through Design Hotels: 800.337.4685
  • The Dolder Grand
    Kurhausstrasse 65
    8032 Zurich, Switzerland
  • Zurich's official travel website

As is common in the travel industry, the Guest Author was provided with a complimentary visit for the purpose of describing the hotel. For details, see our site's Ethics Policy.

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