24-Hour Room Service: Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne, Switzerland

In the first week of June this year, the Beau-Rivage Palace was entirely booked up by heads of state and their various entourages for the G8 Evian Summit. No one else could stay there. It was top brass only. Every morning, presidents and politicians would have a full English breakfast (or continental, depending on how they felt about the English), and take the 40-minute ferry ride across Lake Geneva to the French spa-town of Evian. And every eveningthey would take the ferry back to the Beau-Rivage for a spot of dinner in the gourmet La Rotonde restaurant and a good night's kip.

So, whatever else divides the G8 nations, they can all agree that the Beau-Rivage is a very good hotel indeed.

Its setting is fabulous. The two wings of the hotel dominate Lausanne's lakeside district of Ouchy, rising in belle époque splendour from the 10 acres of grounds. A terraced lawn leads down to two tennis courts and a half-indoor, half-outdoor pool; on a lower level still, the Café Beau-Rivage is the place to be seen in Lausanne. Before you even make it to your room, the Beau-Rivage's public spaces give the game away: luxury limos lurk near the entrance; the English bar speaks of quiet, leather-upholstered refinement; the ballroom's marbled floor shimmers under a glass dome. Face it: if it was good enough for Emperor Hirohito, it's probably good enough for you.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Beau-Rivage Palace, Place du Port 17-19, Lausanne, Switzerland (00 41 21 613 33 33; www.brp.ch). There's nothing beyond the grounds of the hotel but Lake Geneva and the Savoy Alps in the far distance; to the north, Lausanne rises up steeply.

Time from international airport: Lausanne has no airport. The easiest way to get there is to fly to Geneva and take the train direct from the airport's own station, which takes about 40 minutes and costs Sfr11.50 (£5) each way. From Lausanne's station, it's a two-minute taxi ride (Sfr15-Sfr20/£6.75-£9). Alternatively, the hotel can arrange transfers: pick-up from Geneva airport costs Sfr310 (£140); from Lausanne railway station, it's Sfr95 (£42).

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

The 169 rooms (including 22 suites and 27 deluxe rooms) are designed to be slightly different from one another, but the common theme is opulence. Fresh pink roses adorn the bedrooms, and the classical decor is matched by ornate touches (my room had a beautiful tapestry above the bed). Fluffy towels (also pink) are everywhere - and if you're lucky, your Jacuzzi will have a view of the Alps. It's a level of luxury, right up to the remote control for the lights, that is almost mind-boggling.

Freebies: Not much at the Beau-Rivage comes free: breakfast isn't included in the price of your room, and even the parking costs Sfr20 (£9) per night. But if you are intent on filling your pockets, then take your pick of the Bulgari potions in the bathroom, and the complimentary fresh fruit and pastries that you'll find on your arrival.

Keeping in touch: modem points and wireless internet access, and phone/faxes in every room.

THE BOTTOM LINE

All this was never going to come cheap. "Comfort" double rooms are Sfr460 (£270) per night, rising to Sfr760 (£342) for a deluxe.

I'm not paying that: try the Hotel Aulac (00 41 21 613 15 00; www.aulac.ch), a comfortable three-star hotel opposite the marina at Place de la Navigation 4. Doubles with lake views from Sfr260 (£117), including breakfast.

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