Luxury Meets Tranquility in Geneva

The Swiss city offers more than an offshore banking centre for traders and hedge fund managers.

Famed for its chocolate, cheese and watchmaking, Geneva is a city with many faces. Sitting pretty at the south-western corner of Lake Geneva, the sleepy Swiss metropolis is bursting with culture, culinary genius and couture. Set against a backdrop of mountains, clear skies and Mont Blanc (on a clear day), Geneva offers something for everyone.

If you find yourself in Geneva on business then set some time aside to explore the city’s many parks, galleries and cobbled passageways. Being relatively small in size means much of Geneva can be covered by foot in less than a day. So once you have checked into your hotel – the Mandarin Oriental is perfectly located near the financial district – pull on some comfortable shoes and head straight to Geneva’s old town. The cobbled streets, quirky boutiques, intimate restaurants and famous St Peter’s Cathedral make the old town one of Geneva’s top attractions.

Fitness enthusiasts should soak up the great outdoors by bike. The concierge at the Mandarin Oriental have a series of electric bikes on offer, which are fitted with batteries to make your city cycle less strenuous. Sitting comfortably on your saddle, head straight for one of the city’s scenic parks. Tthe Parc La Grange, located along the Quai Gustave Aador, is a good choice. This popular park is opposite the Geneva Plage (beach) and is the ideal spot for a late breakfast or early lunch. Famous for its rose garden and Romanesque features, this park boasts two theatres, an 18th century villa and numerous rare tree species.

Your next stop should be a trip to one of the many galleries or watchmaking museums. Luxury watch brands such as Patek Philippe have their own galleries showcasing watches designed and created by them. For a more generic insight into horology, head to the Musee de l’Horlogerie, located in a small park close to the centre of Geneva.

If you are pushed for time then a great way to experience all that Geneva has to offer is by boat. Head to the cruise boat station near the Jardin Aanglais for the ‘Swiss Boat Tour’. For 15 Swiss francs, you can power up the lake passing popular landmarks as you go, such as the famous Jet d’eau water fountain.

For globetrotters visiting Geneva purely to take in the fresh air, scenery and world class shopping then splash out at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues. This former royal palace is luxury at its best. Oozing palatial grandeur and French luxury, this popular hotel knows exactly what the high-flying traveller needs. And with its own private road outside, this Genevan landmark is a must-stay.

Located on Quai des Bergues, overlooking Lake Geneva, the shopping district seems the obvious first stop from here. Depending on your budget, head to the Confederation Centre and Rrue du Marche area for high-street or to Rrue du Rhone for high-end. Luxury haunts such as Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton line this lakeside shopping district.

When the sun sets, if it’s nightlife you’re after, then hop on a train to nearby Zurich. But for good food, Geneva has it in abundance. The restaurant scene in Geneva is buzzing with exclusive eateries (usually found in hotels) and classic brasseries, which are popular in the Carouge and Oold Ttown area. Head to the Brasserie Lipp in the Confederation Centre for al fresco dining or to the Four Season’s very own Iil Lago restaurant for Iitalian cuisine on a secluded terrace.