24-Hour Room Service: Hotel Des Bergues, Geneva

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The Independent Travel

There's something fishy going on at the Hotel des Bergues, although you won't spot it immediately. Established in 1834, it was the first hotel in Geneva and it retains an old-fashioned decorum. There's no piped music to disturb the luxurious calm of the foyer, and staff radiate precision-timed efficiency as you are conveyed discreetly from the reception desk (claustrophobes should avoid the cramped lifts).

There's something fishy going on at the Hotel des Bergues, although you won't spot it immediately. Established in 1834, it was the first hotel in Geneva and it retains an old-fashioned decorum. There's no piped music to disturb the luxurious calm of the foyer, and staff radiate precision-timed efficiency as you are conveyed discreetly from the reception desk (claustrophobes should avoid the cramped lifts).

So far, so Swiss. And as you look round your suite, you'll notice nothing out of the ordinary. Bed, television, complimentary fruit - all are present and correct. But then you spot the goldfish bowl in the corner. Four piscine eyes stare back at you. Next to the bowl is a card, ostensibly from the occupants, bidding you welcome. "We are both very happy to be here with you," it reads. "We hope that during your time at the hotel, you will be enjoying our company." Very fishy indeed.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Hotel des Bergues, 33 Quai des Bergues, 1201, Geneva (00 41 22 908 7000, www. hoteldesbergues.com). Location is the Hotel des Bergues's greatest asset: its grand façade on Lake Geneva's right bank overlooks the busy Pont du Mont-Blanc. Opposite, the Jet d'eau fountain is a useful landmark (or watermark) when navigating around town. If your room has a view of the lake, there's the added vista of Mont Blanc. The old town is five minutes' walk across the bridge.

Time from international airport: about 15 minutes, however you do it. The hotel can arrange transfers, or 200 trains make the 10-minute journey from the airport's station each day to the Gare de Cornavin, a five-minute walk from the hotel. A one-way ticket is Sfr2.20 (£1).

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

Monet reproductions adorn several of the 122 rooms; favoured guests can choose which they prefer from a book at reception. (It's also a chance to trot out a fantastic post-Jerry Maguire joke: "Show me the Monet!") There's nothing of the vast, corporate blankness that envelops most luxury hotels: the public spaces are cosy, and the terrace of the Le Pavillon restaurant is much favoured by the locals. There's also a small 40-seat restaurant, L'Amphitryon, where diners can watch their food being prepared in the adjoining kitchen. The rooms are elegantly furnished, with faux-Greek urns masquerading as table lamps.

Freebies: the goldfish are more wholesome companions for lonely businessmen than Pay Channels 52 and 54, but you can't take them with you. You can stuff your bag with Hermès smellies from the bathroom, and stuff yourself with the complimentary Swiss chocs.

Keeping in touch: fax, PC connection and conference-call phones. The hotel's business centre is open from 7am-10pm.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms cost from Sfr725; contact Mason Rose on 020-7235 3245 or e-mail reservations@ masonrose. com. Sadly, the goldfish only appear in suites, which start at Sfr1,275.

I'm not paying that: Hotels around the Gare de Cornavin are cheaper but less picturesque. Try the Hotel Suisse, 10 Place Cornavin (00 41 22 732 66 30, www.hotel-suisse.ch), where doubles start at Sfr190.

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