Les Trois Couronnes, in Vevey, has just been added to prestigious Most Famous Hotels, a list started in 1986 by Austrian travel writer Andreas Agustin.
He wanted to create a definitive history of the world's best hotels; the initial list ran to 30, now it has risen to 430. No hotel can buy its way on to the Most Famous list – but no hotel is ever taken off either. "History remains history," says Agustin, "even if the hotel is demolished."
Eight international jurors meet annually with Herr Agustin to present their evidence. "Our goal is to detect historic hotels and then research their stories." Long term, Agustin and his team are publishing the stories of each hotel. These beautifully produced books – 51 to date – sell for €29 (£25) and finance the ongoing work on the list, which is a non- profit venture.
Les Trois Couronnes certainly belongs on the list. It was built in 1842 when Swiss hoteliers were moving out of city centres in search of lakeside views. Not only was Trois Couronnes the setting for Henry James's 1878 novella Daisy Miller, but in 1913 the composers Camille Saint-Saëns and Ignacy Jan Paderewski played the piano here. Royal guests have included the widowed Russian Tsarina, Alexandra, who booked the whole hotel out for several months in 1859; and the Aga Khan, who in 1944 celebrated his marriage to Mademoiselle Labrousse at Les Trois Couronnes.
In 1973, Peter Bogdanovich filmed Daisy Miller at the hotel, with Cybill Shepherd in the lead role. Other celebrity guests over the years have included musicians Yehudi Menuhin, Arthur Rubinstein and Pablo Casals, as well as famously itinerant authors Somerset Maugham, Thomas Mann and André Maurois.
You wouldn't think there are 71 rooms; Les Trois Couronnes feels more intimate than that. Each one is individually designed and features a working fireplace (a nice touch for winter weekend breaks). The decor is bright and modern, picking up on the light from Lake Geneva. All rooms have Molton Brown bathroom products and the suites and junior suites have Bowers & Wilkins iPod docking stations. There's also free WiFi connection in all the rooms.
The food and drink
Le Restaurant is situated overlooking the hotel's terrace with views to the lake that inspired the flirtatious Daisy Miller's initial indiscretion. Whenever possible, Le Restaurant extends out of doors, under broad sailcloth umbrellas. The cuisine is French. A typical three-course meal without wine will cost from around £50 per head. There is also a sushi menu, Peck O Sushi, available at the Verandah Bar.
The Puressens Spa was originally a boathouse underneath the hotel's terrace that dates back to when there was no embankment and the waters of Lake Geneva came right to the back of the hotel. In those days deliveries were made by boat through Venetian-style arches. When the hotel was refurbished in 2000, architect Jean-Jacques Morier kept the appearance of an underground dock using its stone tunnels for the spa. As well as a large indoor swimming pool, fragranced treatment rooms, and a fitness area, the spa also features a new Health Academy, which specialises in anti-ageing treatments.
Children and small pets are welcome at the hotel. The building is classified as a historical monument so it has not been modified for people with disabilities.
Double rooms at Les Trois Couronnes cost from 470 Swiss francs (£280) per night. Kirker Holidays (020-7593 2288; kirkerholidays.com) offers a package including three nights' B&B accommodation for the price of two, from £898 per person, including return flights and transfers.
Hotel Les Trois Couronnes, 49 Rue d'Italie, CH – 1800 Vevey, Switzerland (00 41 21 923 3200; hoteltrois couronnes.ch).Reuse content