Geneva is an elegant city and the pinnacle of elegance is the Four Seasons Hotel Des Bergues Geneva, which opened in 1834 as the city’s first hotel to welcome visiting statesmen. Now elegant is typically not the kind of adjective that you would align with family-friendly… and yet, the Four Seasons Geneva was family-friendly beyond my wildest dreams, the kind of vivd, travel-fueled dreams that an early-rising toddler usually disrupts. Despite being a famous — and fancy — Geneva landmark (the site of the first assembly of the League of Nations in 1920 and headquarters of the French delegation), children are not just welcome but celebrated.
When we first arrived at the Four Seasons in July, gratefully giving up our car to the valet following a six-hour drive from Provence, we were awestruck by the marble, mirrored lobby and its towering pink-and-green floral arrangements. The color palette of the ground floor is blues and greens, inspired by Lake Geneva which is directly outside the door. When we made our way to the concierge for check-in, our two-year-old son was handed two little stuffed animals: a cow and a St. Bernard with a bottle of whisky around his neck. This was his first real introduction to Switzerland, as we had driven to France immediately after landing in Geneva 10 days ago. A cow and a dog, two new friends and the perfect introduction! That really set the tone for our stay.
We were escorted to our room by Anna, who would be our Guest Personal Assistant. As we walked down the hall to our room on the sixth floor, I noticed the coolest spiral staircase, one of the many great Neo-Classic architectural details throughout the hotel. Anna gave us a tour of our room, which was fairly modern compared to the ornate downstairs. When the Four Seasons reopened this famous hotel in 2005, they completed a lot of refurbishments resulting in very luxurious, state-of-the-art rooms with high-tech features like my beloved automated black-out shades (the ultimate treat for parents whose kids don’t like to sleep late).
Anna gave us a tour of our room, which was on the sixth floor and had lovely views of the lake and the Old Town. We even had great views from the plush bed, which is very nice. My son’s favorite part of the room? The bathroom. I’ve always loved fancy hotel bathrooms (separate shower and toilet areas are just the best) and it’s amazing that a toddler could appreciate such a thing. Actually, he could have cared less about the modern fixtures and marble accents, although he did love the television in the mirror. No, what won him over was that his name was in the bathtub! Before my stay, the hotel had asked me for my son’s name but I had no idea why. He was so excited when he saw his name there. Also, the hotel also left so many goodies for him, including a Mustela products, a tiger washcloth set and Bulgari soaps that I can’t bring myself to actually use. There were also child-size slippers and bathrobe waiting for him.
Before Anna left, we asked her to help us plan our our day tomorrow — we only had one full day in Geneva and we planned to pack as much in as possible. I told her that I wanted to see Geneva’s Jet d’Eau, and she assured me that I wouldn’t miss it. She gave us some great recommendations for the Old Town and the Botanical Garden. She also reminded us not too miss breakfast in the morning, which was a fabulous buffet with lots of fresh fruit and baked goods as well as made-to-order dishes. Then we got restaurant recommendations for that evening and set out to explore Old Town.
The blackout shades allowed my son to sleep relatively late the next day, which gave us the rest we needed for our very busy day. It was hard to leave the well-appointed room but we indeed started our day with breakfast, which gave us delicious fuel for seeing the Jet d’Eau, the Flower Clock, taking a boat across the lake where we would find Musée d’Histoire des Sciences (Museum of the History of Science) and the Botanical Garden. Then we took a taxi to the Place du Molard, where we had lunch. After we visited the fabulous toy store Franz Carl Weber, we began the hike uphill with our stroller to explore Old Town. We made it up to Cathedral St. Pierre and then saw the three canons in the Old Arsenal. At that point, my son had fallen asleep so my husband brought him back to the room. That left me free to shop, and shop I did! I will go on record saying I never seen better boutiques in my life, and should that change, I will let you know.
At that point, the rest of my stay in Geneva was all about the Four Seasons. I surreptitiously unloaded my shopping bags and then took my son upstairs to swim in the new pool. Then we all went to Il Lago, the hotel’s signature restaurant, and sat outside looking Lake Geneva. After an incomparable tasting menu (which is getting its own post), we did some packing because we were flying back home to New York City the next day. Luckily, we did have time in the morning for breakfast. What a way to finish off a fabulous trip!
Comped but Never Compromised: I received a complimentary stay at Four Seasons Geneva Hotel Des Bergues but I am free to write whatever I want.