Founded in 1681 as an inn for gentlemen and rebuilt in 1844 as a luxury hotel, Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois is Switzerland’s oldest hotel, a pretty palace which sits perched over the Rhine River in Basel.
The property is a luxurious landmark, having played home sweet home to the world’s rich and famous. Its ancient guestbook features signatures by bold faced names such as Queen Elizabeth, the Empress of Japan, Richard Wagner, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Voltaire, Charles Dickens, Dalai Lama, Pablo Picasso, and Marc Chagall. On my recent visit celebrated Swiss tennis hero Roger Federer could be seen wandering under the hotel’s crystal chandeliers.
Twirl through the lobby’s revolving door and you’ll find tourists lining up to take selfies on the street with the hotel’s new multi-coloured mascot. Students at a local school were tasked at transforming the hotel’s guest limousine (a 2006 Bentley) into a graffiti artwork, entirely keeping up with the hotel’s marketing speak, “Rich in history, young at heart.”
The historic hotel has a handful of room options (from the posh Napoleon suite to well appointed Junior Suites). Interior design inspirations include classical and art deco style, which harmonize with modern forms with strong colours and luxurious materials. Highlights include Feuerstein Essentials Switzerland bath amenities, complimentary minibar featuring beer and snacks, and Bang & Olufsen flat-screen TV.
Be sure to book a suite with a balcony (only a few of them do) as it offers a perfect perch to wake up to the world each morning. My spacious balcony comfortably fit four for a wine o’clock indulgence, offering ideal intimacy with a jaw-dropping view.
Each morning Brasserie Les Trois Rois bustles at breakfast. Hungry guests parade down a bountiful buffet featuring freshly baked pastries, yogurt and muesli station, hot plates featuring bacon, sausage and pancakes, and a drool-worthy cheese board. At the table you can order from a petite egg menu depending on your mood, a hearty omelette or simple scramble.
If you’re peckish in the afternoon plop yourself down on a comfy sofa in the hotel’s luxurious lobby lounge and indulge in the British High Tea tradition. During special occasions a pianist tickles the ivories while dapper servers offer piping hot pots of loose leaf and classic tea service towers featuring dainty sandwiches, warm scones, and pretty pastries.
The hotel’s simply titled Bar bustles each evening as candelabras offer a dramatic flicker throughout the romantic old-school space. Divine drinks are composed by Thomas Huhn and exquisite canapés are crafted in the kitchen. Arrive early in the evening to claim one of the vintage stools which offer a perfect perch to people watch Basel’s who’s who.
Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois’s masterpiece is the celebrated 3 Michelin Star Cheval Blanc. Chef de Cuisine Peter Knogl and his hard working kitchen have earned a place among the best 100 restaurants in the world, thanks to their superb creations in which French haute cuisine is enriched with flavours from the Mediterranean and Asia. Seasonal highlights from the menu in Autumn include Langoustine with madras curry, Duck Foie Gras with fig confit and jelly of Early Grey Tea, and Smoked Eel with beetroot, black garlic and wasabi.
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