Even arriving at the sumptuous Dolder Grand makes you feel better: the Mercedes S-Class, lined in soft champagne leather, purrs up, 15 minutes from Zurich’s airport. The hilltop 1899-vintage fairytale turreted castle, pride of the lush four-hectare estate, is flanked by Norman Foster’s four-storey moustache-like wings. Inside are 173 bedrooms, over 130 superb modern art pieces and one amazing indoor-outdoor wellness complex. I start by walking along an inner glass-walled corridor to see the spa: on the way, I look out at a typical Niki de Saint-Phalle statue, a hint of Jeff Koons, always in her bulbous ladies – push a red button to make this one twirl.
I am staying up on the fourth floor of the Spa Wing, in the 170-square-metre Masina Suite, named for Fellini’s wife Giulietta Masina. I look through a big-aperture, white-lacquer fretwork screen at a bespoke snooker table and a rectangular dining table with six charcoal armless chairs by Fendi.
Beyond, through an all-glass wall, is a terrace (lots of seating) and I can see down the wooded hills to the lake. I have a fully-equipped Bosch induction kitchen. The mostly-malachite bathroom has an off-white central egg-shaped tub with a wood bath butler tray. One of my library books is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, partly shot in this suite. A lacquer box holds personalised stationery.
Back to wellness. There is tennis and golf, plus full ‘medical’ wellness. The gym has the latest Citterio-designed Technogym. La Prairie offers superb facials. I swim in a pool that starts inside, extends out to the so-healthy Swiss mountain air.
And food? Heiko Nieder, who has a brand name renowned throughout Switzerland, holds two Michelin stars for The Restaurant. An alternative, Saltz, was designed by Rolf Sachs, with lifesize Arcimboldo heads, a red neon outline of Swiss mountains and a ton-heavy rock hanging from the ceiling by scarlet climbing ropes and crampons. After lots of tapas, I went on to burrata with beef tomato, basil and olive oil, and sliced veal Zurichoise with rösti. As expected, the breads were sensational, as they were at breakfast, when I was really tempted by Markus Kunz’ homemade chocolate hazelnut cream preserves. As I drank yet another cup of absolutely outstanding Dinkel coffee I noticed, besides copies of today’s New York Times, 12 wall clocks, marked for different cities but in fact all intentionally showing the same time.
I had scheduled time for one of the many-a-day complimentary fitness classes, namely Pilates. Four of us endured those Pilates ‘torture’ machines, with extra hand-weights, for self-control and better physical awareness. After feeling simultaneously drained and invigorated I changed into travel clothes, emptied the safe, and head down to the lobby, where the car awaited.
Mary Gostelow’s travelogue is www.girlahead.com