About the Hotel
The first thing that comes to your mind when you think of a hotel is a room with warm beds and plush mattresses. And while all that is okay, there are some hotels that, though very comfortable, lack the extra oomph and excitement. With standard rooms and authentic services, these rest houses are a decent place to crash in after a hectic day out. However, today hotels are a part of the vacationing experience. Thanks to the developments in the tourism sector, we now get a wide range of lodgings to choose from. Concept hotels, art hotels, adventure hotels and many others have popped up in the recent years giving travelers the luxury of choosing a lodging both interesting and well-equipped with the latest amenities. One such hotel that we’ll be discussing today is Hotel Palafitte, a one of a kind luxury hotel perched on the stilts of Lake Neuchatel, Switzerland. Read on to know more about this unique lodging space in this review:
Switzerland is a land of picturesque valleys and hills, a welcome respite from the din and chaos of city life. It is a country known for its chocolates and cheese, but that’s not all, Switzerland is also celebrated for its architecture. Hotel Palafitte is a classic example of what happens when modern architecture meets antiquity.
A palafitte is an ancient dwelling built from piles of wood or stilts over a lake. These structures are neolithic cave houses that were constructed in Switzerland and Northern Italy. Hotel Palafitte lies on the outskirts of Neuchâtel, a small village dominated by French-speaking inhabitants and is among the most distinct lodgings you will ever come across.
A joint effort of many established hoteliers and designers, the Palafitte happens to be the only building in Europe that is built above water and features 24 to 40 “pavilions” or small suites mounted over lake Neuneburg in Monruz. The overall construction and framework of the place can be best described as a masterpiece where guests can rejuvenate in the beautiful cocoon of nature. The place is designed in such a way that each room inside offers a panoramic view of the surreal surroundings.
Hotel Palafitte or “pavilions”, when translated into English, is a unique blend of contemporary design and classical charm. The place was originally constructed as a temporary structure a Swiss exhibition Expo.02 that was launched in 2002. The entire project the brainchild of Kurt Hoffman, an architect from Lausanne, Switzerland and was financed by the Sandoz Family Foundation (an organization known for funding other important projects such as Riffelalp Resort above Zermatt). This 21st-century state of art structure was built under a budget of 20 million Swiss francs.
The hotel was built using “sustainable architectural techniques” where the components of the building could be recycled and reused once the hotel was demolished after the Expo.02. However, what started out as a mere project showcasing revolutionary eco-friendly construction methods grew to be among the most talked about hotels in Europe! The idea behind Palafitte was such a hit among guests and critics that the Swiss Government decided to sanction the place the permit to stay open. It is interesting to note that the law doesn’t allow buildings over or near public lakes; the Hotel Palafitte was the only exception.
Hotel Palafitte opened its doors in the spring of 2002 when it was just a temporary project built on Lake Neuneburg. The 40 pavilions or suites are constructed above and around the lake, a first of its kind in Europe. Built on stilts, the hotel follows an eco-friendly sustainable architecture and is built using recyclable materials. It is a joint venture between the Sandoz Foundation, Ecole hoteliers, and Siemens.
Set on wooden stakes, the hotel brings you as close to the lake as you can ever get. The separate units or accommodations each measuring 68 square meters can accommodate about 3 people in one pavilion. The power supply of the hotel managed by Siemens and employs VISIONIK integrated infrastructure monitoring, AlgoRex fire control, CerPass access control system.
There are about 40 pavilions built on stilts spread out across the property with their separate terrace (guests can choose between a lakeside pavilion and one with shore view). Each suite has an individual bedroom, a bathroom with a movable partition wall through which you can look at the lake while lounging in the tub. The open terrace offers a magnificent view of the Alps in a distance looming in the background. A ladder leading directly to the private terrace allows you to access the lake as well. The rooms also feature an innovative home automation technology.
The tranquil lakeside setting of Hotel Palafitte is a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the nearby township of Neuchâtel. You can spend your whole time just staring at the surrounding beauty and savour the peaceful atmosphere of the place. Owing to its isolated and private location, the hotel is a hit among couples. The place is a paradise for lone travelers and privacy seekers who just want some peace and quiet me-time. However, the hotel even caters to the adventure lovers; families can hire bikes, paddleboards, and kayaks for rent and explore the nearby areas. The place is also known for hosting business conferences; the hotel has two conference rooms well-equipped with the most advanced facilities.
The hotel also organizes special tours around the city of Neuchâtel where you get a taste of the local cuisines and customs of Switzerland. You can even visit the nearby asphalt mines, trek up to the Alps or simply lounge in the luxurious jacuzzi overlooking the wide expanse of the lake. Guests can visit the lovely lakeside esplanade near the Lathénium Museum. The hotel offers many dining options including the La Table De Palafitte with scrumptious breakfast buffets and La Terrasse known for their signature dishes and authentic flavors. The city of Neuchâtel is known for its vineyards and produces a good quality white wine called Chasselas.
The lakeside retreat of Hotel Palafitte offers guests an escape from the urban lifestyle without actually compromising on the comforts of everyday life. Here, you get the best of both worlds! What’s not to love about that? The path-breaking architecture of incorporating individual suites over a large public lake is a major USP of the place. Also, the fact that the hotel was built from sustainable and biodegradable material further boosts its popularity. The rooms are spacious, vibrant and well furnished having the best of gadgets and every possible luxury one can imagine. Moreover, the property features a robust security system including biometric scanning devices, smart locks, and automated electronics.
The private terrace, Jacuzzi and the surrounding mountains and lake are nothing short of paradise for couples. Even families can enjoy the many thrilling activities organized by the hotel staff such as the Swiss tour, historical excursions to Neuchâtel, boating, and trekking. Palafitte is a hit among foodies as well, because the nearby eating places inside the property offer an extensive range of local dishes. The multi-lingual staff is helpful, warm and very friendly always available at your beck and call.
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Think you know everything about the hotel? Listed below are some unknown facts, interesting trivia, and other useful information about Palafitte for making your stay more memorable:
- The hotel Palafitte was originally meant to last just six months as a part of the Expo.02 expedition.
- Each room here has a TV, a radio, a minibar, a telephone and air conditioning.
- The property is a non-smoking zone, though there is smoking lounge where guests can enjoy a cigarette or two.
- The hotel has its own car park; also all rooms have Wi-Fi connectivity.
- The hotel doesn’t entertain pets for free; you’ll have to pay for your furry friend to accompany you.
- The hotel is centrally located, it is an hour and 30 minutes drive away from Geneva and Zurich.
- The place has two conference rooms and is popular in the corporate world as well.
- On the downside, the place has loads of mosquitoes and no on-site spa (ensure you carry a mosquito repellent.)
There are very few hotels that offer experiences instead of routine accommodation. Hotel Palafitte is one such place, offering unforgettable vacation experiences. With its unconventional structure, surreal surroundings, and superb services, this 5-star luxury hotel is a place that takes you far away from the grim realities of life. The place, though a few minutes away from the city of Neuchâtel, feels like a different world altogether. Beach-like landscaping and aquatic ambiance give the place the look and vibe of an island. Add to that the top-notch services and friendly staff you get the perfect family getaway for your next trip to Switzerland!