Lucerne’s Hotel Schweizerhof: Where B.B. was King

Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, B.B. King and Neil Armstrong all stayed there, and so can you. Whether you're world famous or famous in your own mind, they'll treat you like a king.

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Exterior of the Schweizerhof at night (Hotel Schweizerhof)
Exterior of the Schweizerhof at night (Hotel Schweizerhof)

LUCERNE, Switzerland, May 30, 2015 — From the moment you enter the lobby of Hotel Schweizerhof in Lucerne, Switzerland, you are whisked back in time. You are surrounded by the aura of ghosts from centuries past who, until now, may have only been reference points in the pages of history.

Gondola glides to Mt. Pilatus  (wikipedia)
Gondola glides to Mt. Pilatus (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 by majestic Alpine peaks. 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.

Hotel Schweizerhof is nostalgia on steroids.

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.

View from the Rigi above Lake Lucerne  (wikipedia)
View from the Rigi above Lake 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.”

Photo of Hotel Schweizerhof  on the shores of Lake Lucerne in 1896  (Hotel Schweizerhof)
Photo of Hotel Schweizerhof on the shores of Lake Lucerne in 1896 (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 the Schweizerhof while appearing in concert at nearly 80 years of age.

The hotel bar pays homage to B.B. King  (Hotel Schweizerhof)
The hotel bar pays homage 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.

An innovative "wall tattoo" (Hotel Schweizerhof)
An innovative “wall tattoo” (Hotel Schweizerhof)

The Schweizerhof is a family affair. It opened in 1845 and 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“ that personalize each room with detailed information about celebrity guests from the past.

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 farther 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.

The Schweizerhof Lobby is filled with nostalgic sensations  (Hotel Schweizerhof)
The Schweizerhof Lobby is filled with nostalgic sensations (Hotel Schweizerhof)

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 famed Chapel Bridge is the symbol of the city  (wikipedia)
Lucerne’s famed Chapel Bridge is the symbol of the city (wikipedia)

The Chapel Bridge is the symbol of the city. It is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe and the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge. In August 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 a landmark that it was quickly rebuilt and re-opened to the public by April 1994.

Mark Twain was deeply moved by the Lion Monument  (wikipedia)
Mark Twain was deeply moved by the Lion Monument (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.

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.

Classic lake steamers add to the charm and the elegance  (wikipedia)
Classic lake steamers add to the charm and the elegance (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.

Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award- winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.comHis goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

Read more of Travels with Peabod and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News. Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod. Contact Bob at Google+

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