What is it that sets Swiss hospitality apart? Perhaps the place to start in answering that question is with some of its characteristics: a commitment to quality; flawless service; and an attention of detail. The only way to truly understand it, however, is to experience it, perhaps starting at these locals’ favorites in Zurich. Your first taste of Swiss hospitality should, however, be on a SWISS flight from one of seven gateways in the United States.
SCHIFFBAU ARTS COMPLEX – IN THE MOOD FOR MUSIC
To truly bond with the residents of a city, you’ve got to experience some great musical alongside them. At Moods, you’ll find an intimate, elegant setting in a space within the Schiffbau arts complex. With a jam-packed lineup of more than 300 acts per year, this is Zurich’s (and arguably Europe’s) premier jazz venue. Here, residents and visitors alike gather to savor the talent of world-class performers across the categories of jazz, soul, blues, electronic, and world music. From virtuosic saxophonists and buzzworthy vocalists to boisterous bands that get the audience to their feet, it’s a safe bet for a fantastic time.
CENTRE LE CORBUSIER – MODERN MASTER
Le Corbusier (nee Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris) was long the leading figure of modern architecture not just in Switzerland but the world. Having formulated many of the principles of modernism, he then expressed them in buildings that still feel daringly contemporary decades after they were built. A trip to the Centre Le Corbusier, located in the last building he designed, is a must for professional and armchair architects alike. Gallerist Weber—who was Corbusier’s friend and collaborator—has assembled a collection of drawings and other works that provide a comprehensive, inspiring look at the legendary architect.
BAHNHOFSTRASSE – STREET LIFE
Thanks to the city’s exquisite location, Zurich beckons to urban explorers in every season. Stretch your legs, watch some people, and expand your wardrobe as you stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse. On this lively promenade at the city’s center, fashionable boutiques like Cartier, Diesel, Audermars Piguet, and Longchamp sit side-by-side with legendary chocolatiers (Teuscher) and top eateries such as the restaurant in the Hotel Baur Au Lac. (The hotel, which is widely regarded as among the finest in Europe, boasts one of the most exquisite lakeside views anywhere.) This is also where SWISS has its City Ticket Office, at the Paradeplatz, if you want to plan your next trip back to Switzerland before you leave.
GRAND ZURICH HOTEL – OLD SCHOOL MEETS NEW COOL
Should you be in the market for some decidedly futuristic mixing and mingling, the Kameha Grand Zurich hotel has made a mission of pushing the design envelope. First among its au courant charms is a brand-new “Space Studio” suite, designed by the German modern artist Michael Najjar, with its “floating bed,” moon rock-inspired decor, and rocket light installations. In the lobby, cigar aficionados can enjoy top notch Cubans in the Smoker’s Lounge or sophisticated sips crafted in the Puregold Bar. Do stay for a bite, as well: The Asian fusion restaurant Yu Nijyo (which offers a lunchtime sushi experience) and the Italian option, L’Unico, offer an inspired spectrum of tastes.
HILTL RESTAURANT – GREEN GOURMET
One of the best ways to get to know a destination is through its food scene, and Zurich’s is among the most eclectic and satisfying in Europe. One of the city’s culinary surprises is the elegant and historic Hiltl Restaurant. In fact, Hiltl—which provides gourmet vegetarian and vegan options aboard SWISS flights—has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the first vegetarian restaurant in the world. Carnivores won’t miss their standard fare when typical offerings on the oft-changing menu include hearty soups and flavorful appetizers such as its meatless “Tartar,” and other items from the “Veggie-Butcher.” (Think: Stroganoffs, burgers, and delicious meatless meatloaf.) Meals are rounded out by an excellent selection of regional wines and desserts such as housemade fresh-fruit ice cream and traditional pastries.