I have traveled the world and had incredible life experiences. From witnessing breathtaking sunsets in the Hollywood Hills to dancing for days during Barbados' carnival, I've fallen in love with numerous places. However, there is one location that stands out among all others—the picturesque country of Switzerland. It truly embodies my definition of a happy place.
With just a 90-minute flight separating me from my favourite country, it's no surprise that I've already visited Switzerland eight times. Each visit has been unique, and I find myself falling more in love with it every time. My first experience was in Lausanne, where I unexpectedly crashed a wedding at the same hotel where Diana Ross tied the knot. Even now, I can vividly recall dancing on the dance floor with the newlyweds, an experience that solidified my love for Switzerland. But Lausanne offered much more than just unforgettable party nights. There was something about the city that captivated me—mind, body, and soul. Whether it was the breathtaking views, the welcoming people, or the exquisite cuisine, Lausanne had taken a piece of my heart, and I knew I had to return one day to retrieve it.
Since that initial visit, I have explored Basel, Zurich, Laax, and Zermatt, and made multiple trips to Geneva. However, returning to Lausanne was always a must for me. I longed to relive that same feeling I experienced during my first trip. Seven years had passed since I last set foot in Lausanne, the hilly city nestled on the northern shores of Lake Geneva. I anticipated significant changes, but when I returned for a family Christmas, I was instantly reminded that very little had changed—in the best possible way. Lausanne still took my breath away, holding onto that piece of my heart just as tightly as before. It felt like I had never left.
I could spend weeks gushing about my love for Lausanne. However, if you only have a few days to spare, here's my guide to exploring the city in just 72 hours.
Where to Stay: The Royal Savoy
Nestled between Lausanne's downtown area and the lakefront, The Royal Savoy is a hidden gem offering a lot to savvy travelers. Founded in 1909, this hotel has undergone a magnificent restoration and is located near Lac Léman. Seamlessly blending art nouveau with modernity, The Royal Savoy provides every visitor with the luxury of feeling truly at home.
Arriving at the hotel during Christmas, I was enchanted by its magical atmosphere, just as I had always imagined a Swiss hotel during the holiday season. The staff were exceptionally cheery, embodying the festive spirit, and we felt instantly enchanted and well taken care of.
Before checking into the hotel, the facade itself fascinated me, igniting my curiosity about its history, which turned out to be quite intriguing. When the Orient Express established a second route between Paris and Istanbul via Lausanne and Milan instead of Munich and Vienna, The Royal Savoy experienced a boom. During the Second World War, the Spanish royal family sought refuge within the hotel. Alongside Beau Rivage (where I crashed the wedding) on the lake and Lausanne Palace on the hill, The Royal Savoy served as one of Lausanne's three grand hotels for nearly a century. Legendary artists like Joe Cocker and Phil Collins have graced the stage at The Royal Savoy.
While the historical anecdotes fascinated me, it was the new Park Wing that captivated my attention the most. This modern, low-rise annexe features sleek rooms and angular corridors, which had to be adapted to avoid enormous redwood roots. The Park Wing also houses the hotel's elegant steel-and-glass spa, complete with indoor and outdoor pools. On Christmas day, we indulged in a self-care routine, starting with a Christmas brunch followed by hours spent in the spa. It quickly became clear that this was the perfect way to spend Christmas—far superior to falling asleep in front of the TV after a turkey feast. Instead, we frolicked in the outdoor heated pool as the sun set, while our dinner, expertly prepared by the hotel, settled in our satisfied bellies.
The main building hosts other amenities, including a restaurant, lounge bar, cigar room, and a rooftop bar offering panoramic views. Here, original elements like gilt-edged paintings and antique floor tiles tastefully contrast with opulent modern chandeliers and vibrant velvet furnishings.
With a total of 196 luxuriously finished rooms, The Royal Savoy provides an exceptional level of comfort. However, it is the rooftop bar that truly stands out. The breathtaking views extend for miles, and you could easily spend hours lost in the mesmerizing scenery. While the breakfast views from the ground floor may not be as captivating, the buffet-style offering will immediately capture your attention. Expect daily new dishes, freshly-baked muffins, and an overwhelming choice that will leave you wondering where to begin. The answer? Indulge in all of it.
Transport: Lausanne Transport Card
The Lausanne Transport Card is a godsend for visitors. This card grants free access to public transport, including buses, trains, and the metro. Additionally, it offers exceptional discounts and offers from museums, shops, and leisure activity providers. Most hotels in Lausanne provide this card for free upon arrival, and it remains valid for up to 15 days.
Museums and Things to Do
Situated in the heart of Olympic culture and heritage, the Olympic Museum in Lausanne serves as the primary narrator of the Olympic concept. It takes visitors on a captivating journey, exploring the Olympic Movement's significance to society while showcasing its impressive collections. Even if you're not a sports enthusiast, this museum offers a fantastic way to spend a few hours in the city.
The Plateforme 10 site houses three museums from the Canton of Vaud—Mudac, Photo Elysée, and MCBA—as well as the collections of two foundations—Toms Pauli and Félix Vallotton. In addition to its cultural attractions, Plateforme 10 features a warm esplanade with restaurants, terraces, book and gift shops, and arcades. On a sunny day, it's a perfect spot to relax and soak in the atmosphere.
Take a train from Lausanne to Grandvaux (don't forget your Lausanne Transport Card) to discover the Lavaux Vineyard. Stretching for about 30 km along the south-facing northern shores of Lake Geneva, the lower slopes of the mountainside are adorned with the stunning Lavaux Vineyard Terraces. Apart from offering incredible views, this region is renowned for its highly-prized wine, which has played a vital role in the local economy for centuries.
Located at the intersection of several pedestrian streets, Palud Square serves as one of the town's vibrant hubs. The 17th-century Town Hall, characterised by its typical Vaudois roof, arcades, and Renaissance façade adorned with two copper dragon-shaped gargoyles, is a prominent feature here. The square also houses the community's oldest fountain, crowned with a statue of justice. On the first Friday of each month, this square becomes home to a craft market. The entire neighborhood is pedestrianized and offers numerous Swiss cafes and boutiques.
Where to Dine
Lunch at Le Nabi
After exploring the museums, head to Le Nabi for a delightful lunch. Their menu strikes the perfect balance between warmth, familiarity, and innovation. Traditional cuisine is reinvented, with the menu changing seasonally to reflect the harvest of nearby farmers. Handcrafted beverages and a laid-back ambiance complete the experience. Located within Plateforme 10, Place de la gare 16, 1003 Lausanne.
Dinner at Restaurant La Brasserie de Montbenon
La Brasserie de Montbenon is one of the hippest gathering spots in Lausanne. Its elegant restaurant boasts high ceilings and a terrace overlooking a picturesque park. The menu offers international cuisine paired with top regional wines and vintages from Europe. Expect a vibrant atmosphere as both locals and visitors come together to enjoy the evening. Ernest-Ansermet 3, 1003 Lausanne. brasseriedemontbenon.ch
When planning a visit to Lausanne, you'll find something for everyone. Whether you're an Olympic fanatic, a museum buff, or a foodie, this city has everything to satisfy your desires. For some, Lausanne is the epicenter of the sporting world, globally recognized as the Olympic capital. For others, it's Switzerland's version of San Francisco. But for me, it's a city that embraces you like a warm hug, a home away from home, and a place that holds a special piece of my heart.
Lausanne truly has something for everyone, whether you're an Olympic fanatic, a museum buff, or a foodie. So come, experience the city that captivated my heart and let it embrace you in its warm embrace—a place that will forever hold a piece of your heart too.