Travel: Switzerland's Lakeside luxury

By Mike Yardley

Switzerland's jaw-dropping alpine scenery and railway journeys are the archetypical postcard impression. But if you're looking to spice up a Swiss journey with a touch of Monte Carlo extravagance be sure to add Geneva and the Swiss Riviera to your itinerary.

Sprawling Lake Geneva is circled by towering alpine peaks, including the Jura Mountains to the west and the vaulting French Alps to the south. Even at the height of summer, some of the tallest peaks are still flecked with snow.

The glitzy Swiss towns that skirt the water's edge were first thrust on to the Grand Tour route 200 years ago, feted in prose and poetry by Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, Leo Tolstoy and Hans Christian Andersen.

On the southwest lip of Europe's largest alpine lake, the city of Geneva is a singular experience.

Half the city's population are foreigners, predominantly because this most international of cities hosts the world headquarters for a rollcall of lofty entities, from the Red Cross to the International Labour Organisation.

Essential sightseeing starts with the spritzing city landmark, Jet D'Eau. This is the world's tallest fountain, a gushing plume that reaches 140m.

It is a truly impressive sight which can even be seen from aircraft.

Stop by St Peter's Cathedral, which is a hodgepodge of Gothic and Neo-Classical style.

It was built 1000 years ago and the Protestant John Calvin preached here in the 16th century.

In Geneva's old town district, another top-drawer location is Maison Tavel, a 14th-century house which provides an authentic taste of Geneva life over the past 700 years.

Its sparkling lake, manicured flower gardens, grand statuary and mouthwatering views of Mont Blanc will capture your attention.

To accentuate the lakeside glam of Geneva, push the boat out and pamper yourself to a night at the gorgeous Grand Hotel Kempinski.

All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and marble bathrooms, and many rooms offer views of the Jura Mountains and Lake Geneva.

From a variety of lakeside restaurants, my favourites include the Tse Yang, which serves superb Chinese cuisine, and Le Grill, which specialises in succulent steaks and sizzling seafood. The FloorTwo Bar, a triumph of white leather sofas, dark floors and chrome fittings, is the perfect place to enjoy some cocktails and drink in the views.

- Hamilton News

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