My mum takes a pragmatic approach to life (seating plans for lunch, precisely ironed teatowels, travel planner journals).
The same pragmatism applies to death. She’s updated the will (Rolex for me, dog for my brother… score!), planned the Rolling Stones elegy (‘Mick Jagger will never die, darling!‘) and chosen her place of rest.
Apparently she will be spending her final days at the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Not one to leave my dying mother alone, I will be accompanying her. Just to be on the safe side, I will be checking in early. Just to be extra safe, I will be sampling the sushi, testing the cocktails and sussing out the spa.
OK, I’ll admit it, the Beau-Rivage Palace is one of the best hotels my mother or I have ever visited.
This means a lot. My mother finds the fault in the faultless (‘this bread is too tasty, it’ll make me gain weight… take it away immediately!‘) and she loves every bit about this hotel. As for me, after years of travelling, hotel hopping and (pretending to) work in the luxury travel industry, I simple adore this place. My mother and I have never agreed. Until now.
The brunch with its postcard view of the Swiss Alps just goes on and on – exotic fruits, local pastries, foreign pastries, bircher mueslis, crusty bread, soft bread, gluten free bread… And yet, far removed from the noisy chaotic child screaming, pan clattering breakfast buffets at other hotels, this brunch is genteel, refined, calming.
As I was living in Lausanne I didn’t stay overnight but a reliable source tells me the Duplex Suite is the stuff made of dreams (gentle colour palettes, beautiful mirrors reflecting breathtaking Alpine views, silky soft furnishings…)
Anyways, enough of the superlatives. You get the idea. It’s lovely.
In fact this hotel is so lovely, so elegant, so stylish it is not a place to live out your final days, but a place to travel to now. It is not death, but life.
Like Switzerland itself, the hotel is a microcosm of global luxury. It houses superb international restaurants (the two Michelin Star Anne-Sophie Pic, the Japanese Miyako Lausanne and the Italian L’Accademia), a charming spa with superb treatments from across the globe (think Thai massage, Indian ayurveda, Japanese onsen style baths) and unsurprisingly given its location and facilities, it welcomes a global elite.
One friend asked me if the hotel were not a little stuck in the past. Perhaps so, but only in a good way. This is a fairy-tale hotel for pretending that all is good in the world, for reminiscing about the good old days, for kicking back with a classic cocktail in hand. Wander its corridors and you may bump into former guests Victor Hugo, Charlie Chaplin or Coco Chanel because this is a place of dreams.
The Palace sets you in a cool, calm and content mood. No wonder it was chosen to host dignitaries for the 2015 Iran nuclear talks. I don’t mean to sound flippant but I’m sure John Kerry’s diplomatic skills were as paramount as the Cinq Mondes spa menu in reaching a deal.
As for me, living in Lausanne as a pregnant, nauseous, hormonal and grumpy expat, the hotel was my secret escape. I’d panic over the results of an ultrasound scan then calm my nerves over a Balinese facial. I’d shun the morning sickness with a ginger mocktail at the bar. I’d fret about bringing a child into such a seemingly hideous world and then look out onto Lake Geneva and for that moment everything would be OK.Photo by kBandara
An Expater friend once told me that any city where you give birth will eternally hold a special place in your heart. For me Lausanne, and with it the Beau-Rivage Palace, is that special place.
So mummy, if we really do have to organise, plan and make lists, let’s book a trip to the Beau-Rivage. Here’s to celebrating health and a happy life. Santé!