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A Best of Zürich City Guide

During Virtuoso Travel Week, I met the Director of Sales from the 5-star Hotel Widder in Zurich, and he had a fun contest during his rounds of appointments where you pulled a house-baked fortune cookie from his bag to see if the fortune inside was a winner of a free two-night stay in the heart of the Old Town of Zurich. And I won! I'm excited to plan my stay at Hotel Widder In old town Zürich! The hotel contains 700 years of history, made up of nine formerly separate medieval houses that have been carefully restored. The rooms retain painted beamed ceilings, elaborate inlays of stone, antique furniture, but also showcase modern design classics by artists such as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. Their private art collection throughout the house features original works by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Alberto Giacometti. What a terrific treat to experience this Virtuoso preferred property!

In keeping with the 700-year-old year theme, I'll be stopping by Zunfthaus zur Waag – pictured above. The site was a guildhall for linen and wool weavers and is now a restaurant serving updated versions of Zürich classics. I'm also looking forward to soaking in some wonderful Art Nouveau architecture and visiting the museums and theaters of Switzerland's largest city and capital. High on my list are the Zürich Opera House (one of the principal opera houses in Europe) and NO SHOW MUSEUM (the world’s first museum dedicated to "nothing" and its manifestations throughout the history of art).

What discoveries will you make Zürich?

Article excerpt below by Mike Dunphy appeared in the July 2016 issue of Virtuoso Life.


The parliament may debate in Bern, but Zürich remains Switzerland’s de facto capital for almost everything else: business, finance, education, culture, and entertainment. In 2016, the city flexes its artistic cred with the 100th anniversary of the Dada art movement. Celebrations reach a fever pitch when the European biennial for contemporary art, Manifesta 11 (June 11 through September 18), transforms Dada’s birthplace, Cabaret Voltaire café, into an artists’ guildhall.


For something more experimental, reserve a seat in Maison Manesse’s quirky wood dining room (Hopfenstrasse 2) for multicourse tasting menus; presentations of local ingredients – pike, bear’s leeks (wild garlic), and morels, say – resemble avant-garde works of art.

Vegetarians should make Hiltl (Sihlstrasse 28) a mandatory stop. Meat-free since 1898 and the world’s first vegetarian restaurant, according to Guinness World Records, it’s home to Zürich’s largest salad bar and creative bistro plates such as the house tartare, made with eggplant, egg, capers, and okara.


Sip cocktails with a dose of Dada inside Cabaret Voltaire (Spiegelgasse 1), the hub of yearlong celebrations. An ideal pairing with the vintage armchair near its fireplace: the classic Swiss combo of coffee and schnapps.

History is also on tap a short walk south at the art nouveau Café Odeon (Limmatquai 2), whose regulars included Albert Einstein, Vladimir Lenin, and James Joyce.

In the up-and-coming Zürich West arts neighborhood, multilevel beer garden Frau Gerolds Garten (Geroldstrasse 23) is fashioned out of shipping crates in a former industrial wasteland beside the Hardbrücke train station. The vegetables and herbs flourishing in the terrace garden go into the kitchen’s salads and pasta dishes. On the top floor of the skyscraper looming above Frau Gerolds, Clouds Kitchen (Maagplatz 5) offers a classy setting and noteworthy gin, made in partnership with Swiss distiller Humbel.


Fashion house Modissa, watchmakers such as Breguet and IWC, and other high-end Swiss brands have their flagships on Bahnhofstrasse, the city’s main promenade. If their price tags induce sticker shock, find sweet relief at Confiserie Sprüngli (Bahnhofstrasse 21), in business since 1836. Its chocolates and signature Luxemburgerli macarons are great souvenirs – if they make it home.

Freitag stitches trendy bags and accessories from recycled truck tarpaulins, bicycle tires, and seat belts at a former cogwheel factory in the Oerlikon quarter (Binzmühlestrasse 170b), open for tours and shopping on weekdays. Its Zürich West flagship store (Geroldstrasse 17), built out of rusty, recycled freight containers, brings more visual splash and longer hours.

Discover fashion and home goods boutiques, restaurants, and live music venues beneath the 39 stone arches of Im Viadukt (Viaduktstrasse), a repurposed train viaduct built in 1894.


The 175-room Dolder Grand elevates Zürich’s charm with a museum-worthy art collection, a spa that makes its own snow, and hillside views that frame the city, lake, and Alps. Specialties at it’s fine-dining restaurant, Saltz, include salt-baked sea bass and grilled steaks and chops carved tableside.

The Lounge’s open fireplace lends warmth to the modern, 138-room Park Hyatt Zürich, near Bahnhofstrasse and the ferry docks. Kindle some cocktail fire with Onyx Bar’s barrel-aged potions; wine lovers may prefer Parkhuus’ two-story, 3,000-bottle wine library.

Contact me when you're ready to add some zest to your life in Zürich!


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