Friday, May 29, 2015

Lucerne’s Hotel Schweizerhof: Another place where B.B. was King

The grand Hotel Schweizerhof in Lucerne, Switzerland as it looked in 1896  (Hotel Schweizerhof)
LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND From the moment you enter the lobby of HotelSchweizerhof in Lucerne, Switzerland, you sense you have stepped back in time. And with it you are surrounded by the aura of ghosts from centuries past who, until now, may have only been references points in the pages of history.

Lake steamer in Lucerne  (wikipedia)
Nestled along the shores of the Lake of Lucerne which spills into the rushing waters of the River Reuss, Hotel Schweizerhof stands proudly encircled within a bowl of majestic Alpine peaks. Here you are whisked back in time with barely a challenge to your imagination. This is a place where the golden age of travel beckons, and with it the 19th century splendor of historic surroundings and the personalities who brought it to life.

Richard Wagner finished Tristan and Isolde here. During his visit he also encountered “Mad” King Ludwig II of Germany who built the famed Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.
Mark Twain wrote about the Rigi near Lucerne  (wikipedia)
Mark Twain stayed at the Schweizerhof during a grand tour of Europe while gathering material for Innocents Abroad.

Leo Tolstoy spent time writing at the hotel, describing his experience in July, 1857 this way:
“As soon as I went up to my room, and opened the window facing the lake, the beauty of the sheet of water, of the mountains, and of the sky, at the first moment literally dazzled and overwhelmed me. I experienced inward unrest, and the necessity of expressing in some manner the feelings that suddenly filled my soul to overflowing. I felt a desire to embrace, some one, to tickle him, or to pinch him; in short to do to him and to myself something extraordinary.”

Early postcard of Hotel Schweizerhof during the Golden Age of Travel  (Hotel Schweizerhof)
More recently, Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, took another “small step” as a guest.

Even the famed American blues singer, songwriter and guitarist, B.B. King spent time in Lucerne’s Schweizerhof while appearing in concert at nearly 80 years of age.

Schweizerhof Bar pays tribut to B.B. King  (Hotel Schweizerhof)
On the day he departed, King wrote in the guest book, “To you and the staff, many thanks. B.B. King.” The message is now immortalized at a table in the Schweizerhof bar.

B.B. stood for “Blues Boy”, by the way.

It’s an eclectic mix that reads like a who’s who of emperors and empresses,  kings and queens, writers, poets, politicians and business magnates from all over the world.

But that’s only the beginning, for Lucerne has long been a traveler’s paradise. Combined with its nostalgic links to a more genteel day, there are powerful reminders that time can indeed stand still, even in the 21st century.

The lobby of Hotel Schweizerhof hearkens to an earlier era of luxurious travel  (Hotel Schweizerhof)
The Schweizerhof is a family affair. It opened in 1845, but has been operated by the Hauser family since 1861. Today, owners Patrick and Michael Hauser are the fifth generation to manage the property. Among their modern innovations are wall tattoos“  which personalize each room with detailed information about celebrity guests from the past.

The terrace is a gathering spot for guests  (Hotel Schweizerhof
Don’t let its grandeur fool you. The Schweizerhof retains its family hospitality and charm with 19th century style and 21st century comfort. Look no further than the charming lobby elevator with barely enough room to accommodate two people – without luggage. A beguiling seat beckons road-weary guests to rest during the methodical ascents and descents. Speed and space are of little consequence, for time does not matter to those who yield to the pace of days long ago.

Situated just a few hundred yards from Lucerne’s famed 14th century Chapel Bridge, or Kapellbrucke as it is known to locals, the Schweizerhof overlooks the westernmost point of the lake where passenger boats regularly arrive and depart to other historic villages along its shores.
Lucerne's Chapel Bridge is an international landmark that is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe   (wikipedia)
The Chapel Bridge is the symbol of the city. It is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe as well as the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge. In August of 1993, the bridge caught fire, destroying two thirds of its historic interior paintings and killing one person.

So important was it to the city as such a recognizable landmark, it was quickly rebuilt and re-opened to the public by April of 1994.
Cog train takes travelers to the summit of Mount Pilatus  (wikipedia)
Lucerne is a treasure trove of museums, Alpine vistas, Swiss history and colorfully painted architectural facades. With its central location in the German speaking region of the country, it is an ideal to use as a base for day trips.

Wall tattoos are a modern innovation  (Hotel Schweizerhof)
When long days of sightseeing are finished, Hotel Schweizerhof becomes an enticing oasis of elegance just beyond the miniature maze of alluring streets that lead to the captivating old town of Lucerne.

Rates at Hotel Schweizerhof are seasonal with standard double rooms beginning at about $470 during high season which runs from April through October. At other times of the year, rates start at approximately $385 per night. Breakfast is not included.

The Lion Monument is another Lucerne landmark that captivated Mark Twain  (wikipedia)
Hotel Schweizerhof in Lucerne rekindles the spirit of the past with a unique blend of capturing the essence of days long forgotten and turning them into the memories of a lifetime.