Zurich is a cosmopolitan, financial powerhouse better known for tax exiles than techno music. But alongside picture-postcard prettiness and business wizardry sits an edgy, underground scene and dynamic nightlife, making it a great, if unusual, destination for hedonists.
We'll get to that in a bit, though; this tale starts one steamy summer's afternoon, long before Kreis 5's warehouse clubs open their doors. On a day like this, lakeside lounging is the only option and there is no better place than Seebad Enge (00 41 44 201 3889; tonttu.ch), the most stylish lido in town. Settling on to a raised, wooden platform alongside Zurich's most attractive bathers, I indulge in the local fetish for mid-afternoon prosecco and take a dip in the lake to cool off.
Back at The Widder Hotel (00 41 44 224 2526; widderhotel.ch), I stay just long enough to slip into something glamorous before heading out. A crying shame because this is a place that deserves to be enjoyed; a chic, modernist boutique hotel forged from nine medieval townhouses, with a who's who of furniture design inside, including Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Charles and Ray Eames.
I take a water taxi to Seerose (00 41 44 481 6383; seerose.dinning.ch), Zurich's favourite summer restaurant, which lies a little way out of the centre of town. With a lakeside setting and crowd of glamorous habitués, Seerose has a touch of Côte d'Azur cool about it, the French connection reinforced by a Bordeaux-heavy wine list and a menu of retro-classic Mediterranean sunshine. I tuck into avocado and crevettes, tartare de boeuf and grilled sole and have to restrain myself from ordering another bottle of the crisp Provençal rosé. After all, I have a table reserved for the Hed Kandi night at Jade (00 41 44 202 8002; jade.ch) and it's time to head back into town.
Jade, the reigning queen of Zurich's more stylish clubs, is an elegant space with a glossy cream and dark wood aesthetic. A rather good restaurant during the week, come the weekend international DJs take to the decks, drawing in a sexy, Euro-chic party crowd. I find the lack of proper dancefloor a minor peeve but have booked a table, so there's plenty of space to throw some moves. A team of efficient waiters keeps the Dom Pérignon flowing.
After several hours of uplifting house music I'm in the mood for something a little edgier. Venturing into the dark heart of Zurich's warehouse club scene, Kreis 5, I find myself on Geroldstrasse – clubbing nirvana if trance floats your boat – dithering between Hive, Cabaret and Supermarket. As one of Zurich's best electro-techno clubs, Hive wins out (00 41 44 271 1210; hiveclub.ch).
All too soon it's 4am, and a stroll to Kreis 4 finds me outside Zukunft ( zukunft.cl), the city's most popular after-hours club. A low-ceilinged basement club, it's short on glamour (bar the stunning arrangement of massed disco balls), but rich with DJs playing a mish-mash of house, techno and disco.
I emerge, blinking, into bright sunshine and jumping into a cab outside Zukunft (another plus of Zurich: cabs everywhere) for the trip to Café Schober (00 41 44 251 5150; peclard-zurich.ch) in the pretty Old Town. Then it's back to The Widder to bid a sad farewell to my beautiful, unsullied room.
A Hedonist's Guide to... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see hg2.comReuse content