Friday, 3 June 2011 12:00 AM
Located directly opposite the train station, the Grand Hotel Suisse-Majestic could not be easier to find (admittedly it did take my companion and I about 10 minutes to find as we didn't think to look straight ahead...). Anyway, once we had realised our mistake and entered the hotel - an expanse of crisp, white marble and gentle jazz music greeted us; the sights and sounds of a multiple-starred hotel.
Our stylish and spacious room boasted panoramic views of Lake Geneva - a shimmering expanse of water framed by spectacular snow-capped mountains and dotted with fishing boats. This is the view I had seen in the brochure - and unlike a lot of corporate images - the view experienced in person, was as good if not better. From our balcony - complete with wicker furniture - we couldn't have found a better spot to relax and enjoy the vistas.
The room (photo: Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic)
The room boasted all the mod-cons and a very comfortable bed, which when sunk into, absorbed you like a warm hug. The only issue was the heat. I love a thick, snug duvet as much as anyone, but on a balmy evening it was just too much; and without air-conditioning (which apparently doesn't get turned on until May) it was, at times, a tad too warm.
The hotel's gourmet restaurant - Le 45 - is a great choice for dinner and offers stylish Mediterranean cuisine with a cosmopolitan touch. Surrounded by glass windows, on a Belle Époque-style veranda, diners can enjoy magnificent views over Lake Geneva and the mountains beyond. We dined on fillet steak with Béarnaise sauce, followed by a to-die-for chocolate parfait, accompanied by local wine from Lavaux. It was fantastic; not cheap but neither is the rest of Switzerland.
The restaurant was also the location for breakfast, which we enjoyed immensely. There's nothing like sipping your morning coffee whilst gazing at the Alps. Mini croissants, bircher muesli, an array of ham and cheese and scrambled eggs were among the breakfast options on offer.
Le 45 (photo: Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic)
The hotel's location is second-to-none and we spent our days exploring the region - known as the 'Swiss Riviera'. The warm climate and tranquil surroundings have attracted tourists for years, including plenty of famous faces, from Charlie Chaplin to Freddie Mercury.
A short bus ride away, the captivating Château de Chillon was a real highlight during our stay. It is not hard to see why this medieval castle - which housed the Dukes of Savoy form the 13th to the 16th century - is the most visited attraction in the country.
Perched upon the shores of the lake, Château de Chillon was the most eye-catching castle I had ever seen; fortified walls and pointed turrets looked stunning against the background of turquoise water and the majestic Alps. Lord Byron must have thought so too, as the castle was the inspiration for his poem The Prisoner of Chillon.
Chateau de Chillon (photo: Thinkstock)
What was great about Montreux, was the combination of the bustling lake-front - with plenty of shops, restaurants and attractions - with the miles of undulating hills, charming Swiss cottages and scenic views, which can be reached in a short train ride up to Rocher-de-Naye. It really epitomised rural Switzerland.
One day, we decided to be particularly adventurous and attempt the hike up to Rochers-de-Naye - an ambitious three-hour hike up to a height of 2,042 metres, starting at Caux. It was quite a trek - around 10km in total - and after a few wrong turns (one of which involved up trudging up a very steep slope of snow and ice, which was rather scary, only to find out that the slope was definitely not the path) we reached the top, much to our exhausted delight. The views were worth it!
After an activity-packed day, we liked to spend a few hours on our balcony enjoying a sun-downer drink and watching the sun descending over the rippling lake, the sky taking on a dramatic pinkish hue. It was our favourite way to end the day.
So, if you're looking for a 'room with a view' look no further than the Grand Hotel Suisse-Majestic - a luxurious base in which to explore the delights of Montreux.
By Sarah Gibbons
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Grand Hotel Suisse-Majestic is a member of Great Hotels of the World Premium Collection. Double rooms start from £107.00. For more information or to book please visit Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic or call 020 7380 3658.