You wake up on the edge of a forest, at the foot of a verdant mountain. Step out onto the balcony of your plush room and tune right into nature – the melody of birdsong and the fresh scent of morning mist and larch wood. Head down for breakfast, an elaborate spread featuring a range of imaginative healthy treats. And all that a quick tram ride away from one of Europe’s most delightful cities, and steps from enchanting forest trails. It’s pure bliss, and that bliss is Swiss, showcasing Ayurveda, Michelin stars and modernist architecture.
Atlantis by Giardino is an iconic landmark just 15-minutes from the heart of Zurich at the foot of the Üetliberg mountain. This vintage hideaway is a throwback to the 1970s age of glam when the hotel hosted celebrities like Steve McQueen, Sophia Lauren and Muhammad Ali. Freddie Mercury once gave a private performance on the bar’s grand piano. Casual chic and nonchalant elegance mark this grand dame, with whiffs of its heyday present everywhere you look.
With its distinctive Y-shape and the appearance of floating in the air, the hotel was originally designed by Annemarie and Hans Hubacher and Peter Issler, who were inspired and influenced by Scandinavian architects. The property had a top-to-toe renovation by the London office of HBA and reopened in 2015. The revamped interiors pay homage to the original Scandinavian style but add a contemporary twist to the 1970s charm. You’ll find handcrafted furniture throughout, fine fabrics by Molteni and Pierre Frey and contemporary design items such as Patricia Urquiola’s marble-inlay origami table.
Rooms and suites are veritable sanctuaries featuring warm woods, floor-to-ceiling marble bathrooms and striking views of the forest or the city panorama. The hotel’s drawing card is in fact the location – overlooking the city from a woodsy perch with an alpine feel. It is this blend of urban elegance and outdoorsy appeal that makes Atlantis by Giardino such a standout.
Food is another highlight of a stay at the Atlantis by Giardino. At Ecco Zürich, head chef Stefan Heilemann and his team conjure up distinctive, subtly playful dishes that awarded this fine dining restaurant two Michelin stars. Infused with Asian zests, the menu features dishes like North Sea plaice with yellow curry and white asparagus and beluga caviar with peas, calamansi and hazelnut. The hotel’s other restaurant, Hide & Seek, offers contemporary fusion fare inspired by Ayurveda. Recent dinner favorites included an incredibly creamy burrata with tomatillo, avocado and basil and a curry with Patagonian king prawns and okra.
In Italian, “di più” means “a little more.” It’s an apt name for the on-site spa at Atlantis by Giardino, as it leaves you wanting just a little more. In addition to the indoor pool and sauna area with its steam bath and Jacuzzi, dipiù SPA offers personalized treatments like aromatic oil baths, Abhyanga Ayurvedic massage and O2 renew facials. On warm days, the outdoor pool with its leafy backdrop is a great spot to while away an afternoon.
The hotel’s striking modernist architecture, stellar city-nature combo, inspired spa delights and thrilling culinary journeys add up to the “urban retreat” theme that Atlantis by Giardino does so well. Giardino has three other properties in Switzerland, each one uniquely different. Giardino Ascona is the “soul retreat” nestled between the Alps and the shores of Lake Maggiore, Giardino Lago is the “personal retreat” right on the shores of Lake Maggiore and Giardino Mountain is the “power retreat” in the pretty alpine village of Champfer, near St. Moritz. To experience them all and get around Switzerland with an all-in-one ticket to travel by rail, road and waterway, consider purchasing the Swiss Travel Pass.