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Elegant Whimsy Castle Hotel Style on Lake Geneva Riviera

Chateau D'Ouchy Castle Hotel Lausanne photoThe Chateau D’Ouchy is one of my favorite hotels I’ve stayed in Switzerland. Perhaps it’s my predilection for stylishly updated castle hotels. Or maybe it was my room, a suite in the medieval tower with my own private elevator, I’ll call the “Rapunzel Room” for its ivy embraced stone Romanesque architecture tower windows looking on the lake, though inside, anything but medieval, in ultra contemporary style with curtained cardinal bed and spacious marble bathroom. Perhaps it’s the location, just steps from the new Lausanne funicular underground train straight from the rail station, and the panorama of the Lake Geneva Riviera just out the door.

Medieval Keeps Donjon Chateau D'Ouchy photoThe 12th Century Chateau D’Ouchy was built as the castle fortress residence of Landri de Dumes, the Bishop of Lausanne, in 1170 on a prominent spot on the lake shore, but much of it destroyed during the Bernese rule of the area. The square single tower keep with one suite per floor is the only part of the original medieval castle left. The Chateau was rebuilt in 1889 as a Victorian era neo-Gothic manor, and then a hotel hosting the tourists of the grand age. It stood as a convenient and charming accommodation in the center of the Lausanne Ouchy lakeside district, catering to the paddle steamer cruise boats which still ply the lake (see Lake Geneva Paddle Cruisers). A bit worse for wear after a century, the old grand dame hotel was completely renovated and refurbished into a chic and stylish upscale luxury property and reopened in 2008, listed as one of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

Castel Bar Chateau D'Ouchy photoA still charming mix of the old and very new with a magical avante-garde twist, the sweeping lines of the glowing inner-lit central lobby bar contrasts and compliments the ancient stones of the medieval keep seen rising above through the skylight glass turning the one-time courtyard into a bright space of curious and curiously welcoming Alice in Wonderland space, with live music in the evenings from Tuesday to Sunday. Spiral wrought iron staircases of the old mansion remain with in the modernized luxurious contemporary surroundings decorated with whimsical, yet tasteful pieces of modern art, parquet marble floors and crisp white linens.

Tower suite bedorrm photoThe Chateau D’Ouchy hotel has 50 rooms of unique character, including 10 junior suites and 3 executive suites located in the keep tower. Most of the rooms are contemporary in style with comforatble eclectic furnishings and all the amenities, though the top floor executive suite, maintains the wood paneled style and stained glass windows a medieval bishop might be accustomed to, with full all around views of the lake and Lausanne. The Chateau D’Ouchy does not have its own full spa, only a sauna and small Turkish Hamamm on the first floor, but guests of the hotel have free access to the spa and wellness facilities of the five-star Lausanne Palace Hotel a few doors away. The pool of the Chateau d’Ouchy is behind a hedge surrounded yard to separate it from the busy lakeside promenade, but if the waters of the lake for a sail or paddle boat ride on glistening waters against the snow-capped Alps peaks beacon, just step out the door. Steps away also is the hotel where Lord Byron and Percy Shelley stayed on their Lake Geneva tour.

Lakeside Terrace Bar photoIn the Castle Restaurant, the dishes of chef Edgard Bovier can be enjoyed in the nautical setting indoors or on the terrace set right on the esplanade, looking over the paddle boats of summer on the lake, a popular spot for a drink to watch the cavalcade of roller bladders, kids, and passing Riviera bikinis. Focused on local regional produce, the full of flavor of the Mediterranean fusion cuisine will tease the taste buds. For special occasions a private glass enclosed wine bar is available adjacent to the private dining room. Within a short stroll are a variety of restaurants, shops, the Olympic Museum (see Olympic Museum Lausanne) and the Musee d'Elysee photography museum. Take a lake cruise on one of the ultra modern solar powered Bateaux Solaires boats which dock nearby, or a sailing trip on the lake in the hotel’s own private boat, the L'Etoile du Leman.
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