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Honeymoons at Widder Hotel, Zurich


Credit: Images courtesy of Widder Hotel

Honeymoons at Widder Hotel, Zurich


Housed in history, this Zurich hotel offers an avant garde surprise and a very romantic stay.

Below the open window, couples stroll arm in arm through the narrow cobblestone streets of the old town. It's a national holiday and life on the streets of Zurich, synonymous with international banking, moves at a decidedly slower pace. Locals have relegated the suit and tie to the closet and instead window shop and sip espresso at one of the outdoor cafes in the heart of the picturesque Augustiner Quarter. A rowdy game of Petanque is being played out in Lindenhof square, an old Roman customs post; participants with mandatory glasses of Pastis in hand. Meanwhile, opponents engrossed in a giant game of chess have attracted curious onlookers.



The bold red and white of the Swiss flag and the crisp blue and white of the Canton of Zurich flag, flap in the breeze, while soothing sounds emanate from the Bang & Olufsen CD player in our room at the Hotel Widder.

Tucked away in a side street off the famous Bahnhofstrasse, the hotel blends effortlessly with neighbouring historic buildings and seventeenth century shops housing boutiques, restaurants and quaint specialty stores such as Confiserie Sprüngli, Schwarzenbach grocery and Café Schober.


Built from eight medieval houses - the oldest dating back to 1066 - the hotel was originally destined for life as the corporate offices of the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS). Fate however intervened and UBS instead commissioned celebrated Zurich architect Tilla Theus to convert the buildings, originally owned by feudal Switzerland's guild of butchers, into a masterpiece of innovative hotel restoration. The result, which took ten years of planning and construction and an investment of some SFr 180 million, is testament to Theus' ability to bridge hundreds of years and is the perfect place to spend a couple of nights for a special honeymoon treat.



Comparable to the way Zurich itself is split in two by the River Limmat, dividing the old town from the new, the Hotel Widder's exterior diverges dramatically with its avant-garde interior. The foyer ceiling, resting on ancient beams, interconnects with shiny stainless steel. An ultramodern glass lift climbs along walls from the Middle Ages. Not one of the 49 rooms and seven suites are the same. Some are minimalist with leather bedspreads and halogen bell jar lamps, juxtaposed with priceless sixteenth century frescoes uncovered during construction. Others boast rare river stone floors, painted ceilings or sections of an original city wall dating from the twelfth century.

Some have views that extend out over the Rennweg, the Augustinergasse or the building's inner courtyard, while others enjoy vistas of the stately Augustinerkirche nearby. Seven suites meanwhile boast their own charming roof terraces overlooking downtown Zurich. Paintings by Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, and original furnishings by the likes of Bauhaus, Josef Hoffman and Biedermeier make an appearance in some guestrooms.



Other pieces by the most prevalent names in design - Frank Lloyd Wright, Mario Bellini, Charles and Ray Eames to name a few - lend the impression of staying in a museum exhibit. Yet despite the chic, cutting edge surrounds, the hotel manages to retain a warm and personable atmosphere, while attention to detail is paramount as has come to be expected from the unflappable Swiss who operate some of the most outstanding hotels in the world. Staff in the slick reception area, are more than happy to help with restaurant recommendations, bookings or airport transfers, while a zippy Widder "Smart Car' is made available for guests staying in the penthouse suite.

Downstairs, the hotel boasts its own "Turicensia" (library with Zurich books) and roaring fire, which lends the hotel a homey ambience, while breakfast is served in a conservatory overlooking the medieval neighbourhood.

On a sunny morning, we enjoyed a sumptuous a la carte breakfast and espresso while pouring over the morning papers. The spectacular glass roof overhead had been opened to let the sunlight stream in and the glorious sound of church bells could be heard tolling across the city. Another of the hotel's eateries, the Wirtschaft zur Schtund, is popular with locals and serves up Swiss specialities, while at night, the famous Widder Bar is the place to see well known jazz artists.

Grab a seat at a red leather banquette and choose from the "Library of Spirits" boasting 130 different types of whiskey or wander into the hotel cellar and personally pick the wine you'd like with dinner. The elegant Widder Restaurant - awarded with 16 Gault Millau points - meanwhile consists of two parts with completely different interiors and its specialty menu features refined regional and international cuisine. Afterwards I lounged in the Le Corbusier recliner in my room, before we retired to bed where a down comforter, complimentary bottle of Perrier and Swiss chocolates ensured a lovely, restful sleep.

Visit Widder Hotel or check out Real Weddings to find your perfect honeymoon destination.