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Mandarin Oriental Geneva review

| Updated on: Oct 09, 2012
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In a city filled with international travellers and dignitaries, the Mandarin Oriental Geneva is an island of solace where guests can relax after a hard day’s work. ARCHANA ACHAL experiences all that this historic hotel has to offer.

On a crisp morning, I wake up to the sight of the River Rhône flowing by, its banks lined with trees still green, trimmed to perfection and almost spring-like. Being a Sunday, there are families walking along the river, the children feeding the lazy ducks waddling by in the water. Young 'Genevans' sprint by in chic workout-wear, while their laid-back fellow citizens sip their morning cuppa at the riverside café. It’s the last few days of September, and yet the weather is temperate, bordering on warm - perfect to laze about at one of the most luxurious hotels in Geneva, the Mandarin Oriental.

Historic presence

The Mandarin Oriental in Geneva first opened its doors in 1950, and it was the first hotel built in Europe post-WWII. This was not the only fact that made the hotel a unique addition to the world of luxury. It was also the first hotel to incorporate en-suite bathrooms in its design! The opening of the hotel coincided with the UN’s arrival in Geneva. From this point on, its relationship with world dignitaries and business travellers became a well-known and trusted one. The King of Sweden, the Maharaja of Jaipur, President Eisenhower and other world dignitaries have stayed at this hotel through the years. As with most hotels in the city, the number of business travellers surpasses those staying for leisure. But the hotel does not have the feel of a regular business hotel. The personal touches of a well-trained staff set it apart. Here, like in the theme song of much-beloved TV show “Cheers”, everybody seems to know your name.

Walking about

Stepping through the revolving doors, you notice the simple yet luxurious feel of the lobby. A few lounge chairs are scattered about, with the reception area right up front. It’s brightly lit and welcoming. A simple staircase leads up to the rooms and banquet halls, with the restaurants and bar placed on either side of the lobby.

The hotel offers its guests a choice of 197 rooms and suites, with views of the garden or river. Obviously, the river view rooms are preferred by most guests. Mountains in the distance, a swift river below and regal buildings of Geneva are a great sight to behold from the rooms. Superior, Deluxe, Premier and River View rooms are the options available in the room category, all of which are suitable for couples and single guests. If you prefer a suite, Junior, Deluxe, Panorama and Oriental suites are the choices available. The suites and rooms are appointed in the same colour scheme of teal, brown, beige and plum. Comfortable beds with gold-trimmed covers, large leather-trimmed writing desks, mirrored walls behind the beds and flat-screen, wall-mounted television sets are a staple feature of all the rooms. Drop into the teal or beige upholstered futons and lounges to enjoy the view from your room.

The bathrooms at the hotel are a special feature, and are considered the largest in the city. Warm lighting, a large tub and separate shower cubicle form the highlight of the marble bathrooms. Tucked away in a corner are scented incense sticks, along with Molton Brown amenities.

The mini-bar and closet area is separated from the bedroom by a door, which I learn was an addition made, keeping in mind the need for privacy by the guests. These subtle design additions set this hotel apart.

The facilities

The Mandarin Oriental made a bold choice in making Rasoi by Vineet, which offers fine Modern Indian cuisine, its signature restaurant, as most luxury hotels have an Italian or Mediterranean signature restaurant, to cater to more general tastes. But given the global target audience, the choice was apparently an easy one. The warm interiors and knowledgeable staff complement the quirky cuisine well. If it’s continental fare you prefer, head over to Le Sud, the all-day dining restaurant, where the seating spills out onto the sidewalk. Its breakfast buffet is filled with interesting options and is perfect to catch the morning sun on your skin. At night, the well-heeled tourists and locals seemed to flock to MO Bar, with its chocolate brown, deep blue and velvet décor. The signature MO Spice and Pisco Sour are crowd favourites.

At the time of my visit, the hotel was undergoing a renovation process that had begun in 2008. The rooms are being refurbished to fit a more Parisian theme, with brighter colours and textures being used. Due to the renovation, the spa was under construction and unavailable for viewing. But guests can still get a massage and enjoy hamam and steam baths at the fitness centre, which is well-equipped with cardio machines.

Despite the changes that are being made to the hotel, there is still a distinct old-world charm that is maintained. The Mandarin Oriental has been a mainstay on the Genevan landscape and will remain the most trusted luxury destination. Guests pride themselves in parking their vintage cars out front, while others walking by always look up in admiration at the building. Simple on the outside, luxurious within.

What: The Mandarin Oriental

Where: Quai Turrettini, Geneva

How much: CHF 490 onwards for the Superior room with garden view. A River View Room starts at CHF 970

archana.a@thehindu.co.in

Published on October 09, 2012

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