by Nicolas Shammas
Arab tourism to Geneva is ever rising but for the vast majority of our region’s travellers the choice of hotel revolves around the international chains. In honour of the unorthodox, we ventured off this beaten path and into the Old Town to stay at Les Armures.
Did you know that Geneva’s Old Town or Vieille-Ville as it’s known here, is the largest historic town in Switzerland? We didn’t either. Perched on a hill at the heart of the city, this important site is just a few minutes’ walk from Lake Geneva and the main financial district, and is now classed as a national heritage area. It’s a charming place with winding cobbled streets, narrow passages and hidden courtyards dotted with small bars, cafés and antique shops. Les Armures is the only world-class hotel here.
Created in a magnificent remodelled 17th century residence, there is no gym, conference facility or formal lobby in which to people-watch but there are 32 rooms and suites. So what the property lacks in size it makes up for in comfort and privacy. That sense of calm is what has managed to attract so many celebrity guests including the Clintons, Paul McCartney and George Clooney.
The rooms blend modern furnishings in warm, neutral colours with original decorative details, such as painted ceilings, frescoes, wood beams, exposed stonework, and open fireplaces. It’s all very tasteful and elegant and despite the historical setting, you’ll still find all the usual modern conveniences like rain showers air-conditioning. In short, the hotel is welcoming, warm, and personal.
In terms of food, the buffet breakfast in the small dining room is nothing to write home about but the hotel restaurant around the back, which serves Swiss specialities like raclette and fondue, is one of the very best in the city.