Where do the bankers let off steam after working the markets all day? Ian McCurrach offers a guide to Switzerland’s financial hub

The scene

For decades Zurich has had the reputation of being one of the dullest places in the world; a city to do business in - this major centre of international finance has five big banks stacked up along Banhofstrasse - or to swiftly fly in and out of en route for the lakes or your annual winter sports holiday.

However, it has recently reinvented itself as one of the coolest cities in Europe, crammed with a vast array of uber-swish new hotels, design stores, restaurants, bars and clubs. You would be well advised to spend a couple of days here if your work schedule allows.

For café society, head to the labyrinth of lanes in the medieval old town (Neiderdorf) on the east bank of the River Limmat. Seefeld on the swanky east side of the lake boasts plenty of hip bars and restaurants. Zurich West, the former industrial district is ultra-chic, especially the Schiffbau-Hall, an old shipbuilder’s yard, housing a fabulous restaurant, several bars, a performance space and jazz club.

The public transport runs like clockwork from 5.30am until midnight and central Zurich is compact enough to cover on foot. After midnight, a taxi from the clubs in Zurich West back to the centre costs around £12.


Drink cocktails and network in the stylish ONYX bar at the Park Hyatt Zurich at Beethovenstrasse 21 (00 41 43 883 10 72; www.zurich.park.hyatt.com), before moving on to Moods at Schiffbaustrasse 6 (00 41 44 276 80 00; www.moods.ch), one of the best jazz bar clubs in Europe. Cruise the cool cocktail lounges along Seefeldstrasse in the trendy Seefeld area. This is strictly Gold Coast territory, so called because it is on the sunny east side of Lake Zurich where the rich have their homes. Begin with Purpur at Seefeldstrasse 9 (00 41 44 419 20 66; www.purpurzurich.ch), low-slung sofa land. Then, drift along with the crowd to Drinx-Bar at Dufourstrasse 24 (00 41 44 252 42 32), which has a small dance floor and live DJs.


Lake Side at Bellerivestrasse 170 (00 41 44 385 86 00; www.lake-side.ch) is dramatically situated right on the lake shore, yet is in the heart of the city. The views are as stunning as the fare; a fusion of mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine and the tastiest sushi this side of Tokyo. Nooba at Kreuzplatz 5 (00 41 43 243 60 06; www.nooba.ch) dishes up delicious pan-Asian cuisine. The modern design includes an open kitchen, long wooden tables inside and on the terrace. Right at the heart of the banking district, Kaufleuten at Pelikanplatz (00 41 44 225 33 33; www.kaufleuten.com) is a great brasserie-style eaterie, bar and nightclub. Don’t mistake the artfully dishevelled mismatched tables and chairs with scruffiness. This place attracts all the major players and celebs when they are in town with its long and eclectic menu.


Zurich’s Opera House (opernhaus.ch) plays to packed houses since the former artistic director of La Scala, Alexander Peeira took over at the helm. Classical musical highlights hit the roof at Tonhalle ( www.tonhalle.ch) and for mainstream drama visit Schauspielhaus Zurich ( www.schauspielhaus.ch). Experimental theatre is found at Schiffbauhalle ( www.schauspielhaus.ch) with occasional performances in English. Most hotel concierges can organise tickets.


Top nightclub of the moment is Indochine at Limmatstrase 275 (00 41 44 448 11 11; www.club-indochine.com), where Zen meets disco. For an underground affair, even the city’s top professionals let off steam at Labyrinth at Hohlstrasse 452; www.laby.ch), but be warned, this is a very late night affair, which rocks after 2am.