Another great weekend and another unforgettable experience! This time I had the opportunity to stay at a hotel with 150 years of history behind it. Although I love modern, there is something comforting but also majestic about establishments with pedigree. Our lives today are so fast-paced, with so many changes happening so quickly that it sometimes feels like we don’t have time nor the interest for traditions and history.
Let’s take this time to discover the Palace Bellevue in Bern. Understanding its history and its different transition periods during which it had to reinvent itself can help ground us and give us hope that the old is also beautiful, that the old can pave the way for a better future.
For a weekend, I got to mingle with President Churchill, Russian princesses, Russian spies and Journalists from all over the world! Or at least I got to see their pictures and imagine how it would have been!
I also got to rest, eat fine foods designed by 16 points GaultMillau Executive Chef Gregor Zimmermann, who by the way is also part of the most exclusive gastronomy society in the world, Chefs des Chefs.
I had been at the Bellevue Palace for a special gastronomy event but had never stayed there as a guest. I was a bit apprehensive hoping that it would not be stuffy or too elitist. I’m not too keen on establishments where more attention is given to etiquette than to the heart, especially in the hospitality sector.
As soon as we entered the premises, we got greeted by the biggest smiles ever. Then of course it got even better upon checking-in! The Director, Urs Bührer kindly came down to personally welcome us and answer all our questions. I was in awe of the Grand design. I truly felt as if I had travelled back in time. Although a few minor details like the super hip background music and the designer Gin bottles gave the year away!
I totally felt comfortable and filled with energy and hope. Not sure why these feelings overcame me but they certainly felt good.
The Bellevue Palace, also known as the official guesthouse of the Swiss government has been a place of living history for 150 years. The hotel has always been the venue of choice for politicians and diplomats while in Bern. Also to be noted that it is a member of the prestigious five-star association Swiss Deluxe Hotels.
I now understand why such grand hotel (the only one) was housed in Bern – it is the perfect building and location to feature the power and history held by this town. Bern is known to be the biggest aristocratic city-state north of the Alps and a major power in the old Swiss Confederacy. It is also the Federal city of Switzerland.
Our Deluxe Junior Suites opened to a bigger than life view of the Bernese Alps and the river Aare. The type of antique furniture and colors used in the room made it really cozy and welcoming. It just felt good to be there.
OUR DINNING EXPERIENCE
The ambiance was calm, maybe because there were two separate galas happening outside as we were having dinner. The room, as any other room in the hotel, was stunning with its dazzling chandeliers.
The service matched the level expected from such a known and respected restaurant. Everyone who waited on us did more than just take orders, they in fact guided us and made excellent recommendations, from the food to the wine. It became increasingly clear that Chef Gregor Zimmermann and his team’s passion for food and details are translated in each plate served – it’s hospitality at the next level.
The style is a contemporary interpretation of classics, always using seasonal and fresh ingredients. And although I ate a lot, I didn’t leave the table feeling uncomfortably full. I was perfectly satisfied with zero guilt!
One of the highlights of the evening was having Director Urs Bührer sitting with us, recounting stories from his 10 years spent at the Bellevue Palace, then introducing us to the cooking team. He and Chef Gregor Zimmermann took us on a tour of the kitchen and shared insights as to the inner-workings of this perfectly running machine. It truly takes a well-trained, organized, calm and professional army to be able to pull off 2,500 events a year! The kitchen being too small, they use the room upstairs as their make-shift kitchen to complete the dishes prepared downstairs. Really, “Chapeau”!
Aside from the food and service, I will remember Gregor Zimmermann’s smile and humility the most. His candor and good spirit truly amazed me given his status but also the busy night he had before meeting me. True testament to a professional man!
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