London in the summer can be… a lot. Between the rising humidity, the cars that seem to multiply on the daily and the oh-so-sweaty tubes, we really just need a reason to escape. There’s the obvious places to think of when it comes to a getaway, but this summer we were thinking somewhere outside the usual travel parameters and exploring further afield.
That’s why this time around our passports are taking us to Zürich. A global centre for finance and banking, the city is often forgotten when it comes to taking things Swiss-side, but when the opportunity arose to discover this picturesque city we decided to find out what it had to offer.
WHERE TO STAY
As we were only staying for a speedy few days, we stayed in the minimal Flag Hotel located in Zürich wests Alstetten quarter. It’s just out of the way enough that it works for both a chilled weekend away, but also has easy access to the city centre via their tram system (which is probably one of the most efficient things we’ve ever used).
If you’re looking for something a bit more central then the hotel Baur Au Lac is an oasis located right in the heart of the city centre. Open for 175 years, the 5-star hotel is set in its own park and boasts a view overlooking the lake and the alps, plus it’s right around the corner from Bahnhofstrasse, Zürich’s celebrated high-end shopping street… but we’ll get to that later.
If a luxe destination is at the top of your list (and why wouldn’t it be, you’re a queen with expensive taste) then the Dolder Grande Hotel is a good choice. Set in a stately building dating from 1899, the exterior is right off of a chocolate box with fabulous interiors to suit. This one is set a little more out of town but the two restaurants, lengthy swimming pool and decadent spa make it somewhere you won’t really want to leave.
WHERE TO EAT
There’s one thing that’s certain when you’re in Zürich city centre – vegan and veggie food will be at the top of the list. It probably helps that Zürich is home to the oldest and most famous vegetarian restaurant in the world, Hiltl. Located in Sihlstrasse, the restaurant was founded in 1898 and continues to be hub for all things veggie and vegan. Transforming throughout the day to a spot for lunch, casual and a la carte dinner, to a club in the evenings and it even has an adjoining vegan butchers shop. It’s a definite place to tick off on your visit, if not just to look at the sheer size of the operation that flows seamlessly every day of the week (with guaranteed delicious food).
Moving on from Hiltl, but not too far of a jump is Tibits, now located in London also, the founding Swiss brothers started out in Switzerland with the help of Rolf Hiltl to become one of the most well known chains in vegan and veggie food.
We caught up with the Frei brothers, Reto and Daniel Frei, owners of Switzerland’s beloved Tibits, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant based in the city centre (as well as Base, Bern, Winterthur, Lausanne and best of all London) and Rolf Hiltl, owner of Hiltl, the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant (and basically one of the most important places in Zürich).
Would you recommend any foodie places to visit on a trip to Zürich?
R: I’d recommend a tiny new restaurant in the 4th district call ed Gül, it’s a Turkish restaurant and it’s very well done. Run by a younger crowd and the food is delicious.
D: There’s a cafe called Miyuko, it’s really small and they do vegan brunches and they’re a must try on your visit.
Aside from food, which attractions would you say to visit?
R: I’d say Photobastei, its not widely known but if you have a chance, it’s very strange, they have very strange exhibitions. On my last visit they had someone screaming in the corner and then a video, its all very interesting.
Whats your ultimate recommendation for summer in Zürich?
D: Everyone heads to the lake when it gets super hot in the city, it’s the perfect place to escape the heat and go for a swim.
R: We also have a Hiltl location next to the lake and it’s the best place for lunch and a summer swim.
WHAT TO DO
If you’re in need of some retail therapy then Bahnhofstrasse is probably your safest bet (you might need to sell a kidney pre-trip to be able to sway about the likes of Gucci and Hermes, but it’s worth it). From there, you can sway across the bridge to local brands promising everything from clothing to interior finds.
Shopping in Zürich Old Town, Niederdorf will see you discover more traditional finds. Cars aren’t allowed in this area, so streets are cobblestone and lined with adorable shops for you to discover at your own pace. Plus market stalls offer handmade goods perfect as a takeaway souvenir.
Barometer is a cosy lounge-bar, with an industrial design, located in the middle of the district 4 and close to Maennerzone and Bronx Club. Head there to make the most of the outdoor terrace.
Fun and ever-popular gay cocktail bar in Zürich’s Old Town, Cranberry Bar is the place to go on weekends.
WHAT TO WEAR