24-Hour Room Service: The Hotel Lucerne, Switzerland

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The Independent Travel

Fans of Fellini, Buñuel and Almodóvar, your spiritual home awaits you in the quintessentially Swiss town of Lucerne. In a hotel that calls itself simply yet confidently The Hotel, the Parisian designer Jean Nouvel has created a cinema buff's dream location. The rooms are exquisitely designed, with each ceiling featuring a still from a classic film.

Situated in the newer part of Lucerne, The Hotel's plain town-house exterior belies the drama within. A discreet entrance leads into the dark and cool reception area where the emphasis is most definitely on form rather than function, and all the rooms have been styled to create striking backdrops, using wood and steel, plus lighting effects worthy of Truffaut. In keeping with the traditions of art-movie making, the bedroom fittings are both elegant and unconventional a leather chaise longue fashioned from what look like three giant orange Smarties being a particularly striking feature.

Bathrooms are white oases of Corian, with each accessory carefully positioned to form a harmonious whole, and the graphics used throughout the hotel are simple and chic, right down to the handwritten weather-forecast card left thoughtfully during the evening turn-down.

The movie-on-the-ceiling concept really comes to life after dark when every bedroom is lit and passers-by can view a vivid showcase of cinema stills (until the blinds are down). Evenings also draw a hip crowd to the hotel's two bars: The Lounge and an alfresco chilling area across the street. The hotel's Bam Bou restaurant, which garnered 14 points from the Gault Millau guide, serves Asian/French fusion cuisine.

Location

Sempacherstrasse 14, Lucerne, Switzerland (00 41 41 226 8686; www.the-hotel.ch).

The Hotel is well-situated for transport links, with lakeside attractions, the conference centre and numerous bars, clubs and restaurants all within easy walking distance. It's a short stroll to the 14th-century wooden Chapel Bridge that spans the river Reuss and takes you to the traditional gables and guildhalls of the old town.

Time from international airport: 62 minutes by direct hourly train from Zurich airport; The Hotel is about 200 metres from Lucerne's handsome railway station.

Comfortable?

I was assigned to one of the 10 "deluxe studios", and the experience certainly didn't disappoint. The still (and accompanying DVD) on my ceiling was from David Lynch's thriller of 1997, Lost Highway, starring Patricia Arquette. Once you have mastered the minor idiosyncracies of the room, such as the swivelling wardrobe and a rather baffling shower, all is bliss. The beds are a fabulous cloud of quilts and white Frette linen. Remote-controlled blinds on the windows can provide a blackout if required, but the views over the adjoining park and distant peaks are just as diverting. And a very Swiss sensibility, this the bells of the church next door seem to toll only during waking hours.

Freebies: Bathroom products by Bulgari, and take-home black designer slippers.

Keeping in touch: All rooms have a CD- and DVD-player (plus a DVD of the film that is featured on your ceiling); and there is free Wi-Fi in all the rooms and public areas of the hotel.

The Bottom Line

Deluxe studios start at Sfr370 (158). The more spacious garden and park deluxe suites are Sfr490 (209); an "American style" breakfast is Sfr25 (11) per person extra. Special packages are available online, with one suite available for the New Year promotion: a two-night stay including two dinners and breakfast for Sfr1,560 (680).

I'm not paying that: For more role-playing, cross the river to the Magic Hotel in the old town of Lucerne (00 41 41 417 12 20; www.magic-hotel.ch). This gabled house offers individually themed rooms such as Egyptian, Ancient Roman or pirate from Sfr220 (95), with breakfast included.

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