The Beau Rivage is a short walk from the train station

Nestled at the base of the Bernese Alps in Interlaken, Switzerland, Jane Duru eschews the usual action-packed schedule of most tourists for the old world charm of the Beau Rivage, Interlaken's second five-star hotel.

Walking through the welcoming gates of the Beau Rivage, I’m grateful for one thing: the hotel’s proximity to the train station (Interlaken Ost) means that it’s only a two-minute walk before I can unburden myself of my hefty luggage. It’s been a lengthy journey up to this point but I’m not too tired to miss the grandeur of my surroundings – the Beau Rivage is a five-star establishment and in the lobby it certainly shows.

Beau Rivage Lobby 200Enjoy free Wi-Fi in the plush lobby.
Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage

The whole room feels as glossy as a Chelsea blow dry, with shiny surfaces, invitingly deep sofas, warm lighting and delicate potted plants upon every table. The hushed feel is only deepened by the sound of a water sculpture gently tinkling in the corner. From here I can see the other guests, a mixture of efficiently dressed business people and older couples, and I’m told at the desk that the spa and swimming pool are on the other side of the hotel. A cheerful concierge directs me to my room, handing me what is heaviest room key I’ve ever had. The brass behemoth looks like it could unlock the door to the Crown Jewels, it’s so weighty. At least there’s no chance of losing it. At this size, you’re expected to hand it back in at the front desk whenever you leave the hotel, rather than carry it around with you.

Beau Rivage swimming pool 200Go for a relaxing dip in the pool after a strenuous day of activities.
Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage

The glamorous feel of the hotel’s downstairs is faintly echoed by the old world charm of my room – walls are covered in what looks like a once-red (and now faded to pink) nubby silk, and the chest wardrobe and desk appear to be closer to antique than retro. It’s inviting – there are grapes, dates and a bottle of water on the side table - and cosy, albeit on the small side. I feel a little like I’ve stepped back in time. This is both good and bad. I’m all for faded charm but one man’s ‘shabby chic’ is another man’s ‘tired’ and despite the lobby below, some might wish they’d gone for the super slick Victoria Jungfrau a few doors down. I can’t help thinking it’s a little old-fashioned for five stars, though this may be the point. Where’s the AC? No? OK, I’ll open the windows then. LCD TV? Well, there’s a breeze block of a television sitting atop the desk in the corner, it’s perfectly functional. A kettle? Oh, never mind. Wi-Fi, it turns out, is free in the lobby, but there’s an extra charge for in-room usage.

Beau Rivage standard room 200The traditionally decorated rooms have an old world feel to them.
Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage

I’m pleased with my bathroom, which, equipped with toiletries, magnifying mirror and large sink, is spacious and light. That light might be due to the fact that there’s a glass door next to the toilet. Yes, a door. This would appear to be the entrance to my very small balcony but I’m rather more concerned that with the toilet shielded only by a thin net curtain, the bathroom will become the venue for a severe case of ‘shadow puppets’ as night falls. Thankfully, it’s not overlooked.

Beau Rivage breakfast 200Enjoy a range of breakfast options at the buffet in Restaurant L'Ambience.
Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage

The view from my room is tantalising. It doesn't have a direct view of the Alps but if I turn my gaze to the right, I can see the aquamarine swirl of the River Aare and snowcapped mountains looming just behind. It’s a fantastic sight, and the next day, after a hearty buffet breakfast downstairs in Restaurant L'Ambiance I decide it’s time to explore the sights of Interlaken up close.

Picture postcard doesn’t begin to cover it; I’m an extra on the set of a movie, such is the cleanliness of the streets, the width of the boulevards and the crisp greens, browns and blues of the alpine backdrop. It’s pristine. Yet beneath its calm exterior, Interlaken is abuzz with activity, as it’s one of the premier jump-off points in Switzerland for a plethora of sports; paragliding, hiking, canyoning, to name but a few. Paragliders land on the main green every few minutes like planes touching down at Heathrow, and you can’t go a few metres without seeing a stand or advertisement for all that's on offer.

Deciding to save the action for a later date, I wander the streets. It’s a bright morning and perfect for a morning’s exploration. The hotel, although handily located for Interlaken Ost train station, is a good 15-minute walk from the centre of town. There’s a scenic route for those who don’t mind the walk (those that do can take advantage of the free bikes the hotel offers, or the travel pass given to guests on arrival which allows free 2nd class travel on most public transport around Interlaken). Cross over the small road bridge next to the hotel and take the steps on your left leading down towards the riverside path.

Beau Rivage river view 200Stroll alongside the nearby river Aare - the water's green colour comes from melting glacier ice.
Jane Duru

Following the Aare, you’ll pass joggers, dog walkers and other locals (that is, if you’re not hypnotised by the near-luminous swell of green water beside you) until you arrive at the main shopping district in the town centre. Here’ll you’ll find all manner of souvenir shops, chocolate shops, designer brands, cafes and restaurants. I spend a serene morning buying gifts (my tip – head to Woodpecker on Marktgasse, for handmade wood carvings and good value trinkets) and stopping for lunch before heading back to the hotel.

It’s a welcome sight and once again, oozes elegance. Whilst the idiosyncratic charms of the rooms may not be to everyone’s taste, it makes for a relaxing antidote to an action-packed day around Interlaken. On the other hand, if you simply want to experience the quiet life of Swiss countryside, the Beau Rivage may inject just the right note of charisma into your stay.

Hotel Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage
Höheweg 211, 3800, Interlaken, Switzerland
Tel: +41 33 826 7007
Prices: Standard double room starts from CHF359, including breakfast.


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