If you remember from my Phase III Itinerary post, the first week of this phase was a “girl’s trip” through Switzerland with my great friend Megan. You may also remember that we decided to rent a car in lieu of Switzerland’s amazing train system so that we could make the most of our time and stop at some of the many beautiful spots Switzerland has to offer.
Our flight from the U.S. arrived in Geneva and the medieval city of Lucerne was our first destination. We prolonged the sub three-hour drive from Geneva to Lucerne with a stop for lunch in Giessbach and a stop at beautiful Iseltwald, on the southern shore of Lake Brienz.
As we arrived in Lucerne in the early evening, we were welcomed by an epic storm. When we pulled into the driveway of Hotel des Balances, we were swiftly greeted outside, our bags were collected, our car was taken care of and we were escorted to our darling room. Especially with the downpour, we appreciated the ease of getting settled in for our two-night stay.
Room With a View
What our charming room lacked in space was more than made up for in décor and a flawless view. We were instantly drawn to our Juliet balcony that overlooked the river Reuss and the beautiful baroque Lucerne Jesuit Church. As we enjoyed the view, we popped open the champagne that was waiting for us and decompressed on the balcony while taking in those first sights of Lucerne.
Aside from that show stealing balcony, our room had a large comfy bed, a desk and chair, a side table and a leather lounge chair. There was a cabinet to store your clothing and another even more important cabinet that had the Nespresso machine (cue the angels singing). Because, we all need coffee before our coffee.
On the main wall of our room was a huge, beautiful mirror that I loved.
The bathroom appeared to have been recently remodeled with new fixtures, a sleek design, and a lovely starry ceiling, and was stocked with L’Occitane amenities.
The room was so cozy. We slept with the door open and to the sound of the river each night.
Hotel des Balances
The building that is now Hotel des Balances dates back to the 13th century and has operated as a hotel since 1807. Today it is adorned with classical, modern touches while maintaining its rich history. The hotel’s detailed façade is one of the most photographed attractions in Lucerne.
The hotel has a stunning event area with chandeliers and a large verandah. Honestly, between the balconies off the rooms and the verandah off the event space, it was hard to leave the hotel. We had the perfect view of the city from there.
Balances Restaurant and Terrace
The bottom floor is home to the beautiful restaurant and bar: Balances. On the evening we arrived, we were researching places for dinner and realized that one of the top-rated restaurants in the city was directly below us. We managed a reservation for a table outside along the river. It was still raining, but we were protected from the rain and were provided blankets. That plus the great food and excellent service made for a wonderful “welcome to Switzerland!” dinner. We enjoyed the local fish and beef and a bottle of Balances’ own Pinot Noir. Everything was perfect. Megan said it was the best steak she’s had in a long time.
The bar offered some unique and tasty cocktails and was hopping every afternoon.
The bar was also where their amazing breakfast buffet was served. In addition to cooked-to-order egg dishes, the buffet offered great local cheeses, smoked fish, pastries, coffee and tea. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and Balances did not disappoint.
Adjacent to the restaurant terrace is a small lounge area where we enjoyed coffee one morning before breakfast. You can also enjoy a cocktail there in the afternoon. The area is open to non-guests, so even if you don’t stay at Hotel des Balances, stop by to enjoy their lovely restaurant and lounge right on the river. As much as we explored the Old Town, I can tell you there is no better view than from the terrace.
Location, Location, Location
The town of Lucerne is adorable. We were there in mid-August, which is peak travel time in Europe, but the crowds were manageable compared to those found in other European cities during that time. I don’t think any hotel is more perfectly located than Hotel des Balances. Nestled right in the heart of Altstadt (Old Town), you could walk anywhere.
There are top boutiques and restaurants surrounding the hotel and the lake, the city wall and the funicular to Chateau Gutsch are all less than a ten-minute stroll away. You can spot the hotel from just about anywhere in Old Town. In fact, when I was lost on our drive in, I remembered to look for the hotel’s huge sign that sits at the top of the building.
Lucerne has so much to offer and is a must when you plan your trip to Switzerland. And, when you visit, the accommodations, service and the food at the Hotel des Balances will enhance your overall experience.
You can find out more about Hotel des Balances here.
- If driving in, follow the hotel directions and not Google Maps, Waze, etc…
- We stayed two nights, but would recommend three.
- Lucerne is musical year round, but has a wonderful music festival during the summer. Check here for more information.
- There is great shopping near the hotel, so pack light.
- Get a room facing the river.
- Like many hotels in Switzerland, Hotel des Balances does not have air-conditioning. Even in the summer, it cools off enough in the evening where this was not a problem for us.
- Check out all that Lucerne has to offer, but be sure to take a few minutes on Hotel des Balances verandah to relax and soak in the city.