Updated: Jul 7
What Riyadh is to Saudi Arabia, Washington D.C. to the USA, Bern is to Switzerland
The city was founded in 1191 and 1848 Bern became the Capital of Switzerland. It is also the chief city of the Canton of Bern. Situated between Geneva and Zurich and across from the Alps, Bern was constructed on a promontory at the inside of a bend in the Aare River (see picture).
Today it is the fourth-most populous city in Switzerland and has around 143'290 of inhabitants. The official language in Bern is German, but the most-spoken language is Swiss Bernese German dialect.
Bern and Al Dir'iya have one thing in common: they are both listed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. In 1983, the historic old town in the centre of Berne was included on the list. The city is well-known for its high quality of life, good cultural offers and tourist attractions. Bern, the shopping paradise with six kilometers of arcades has one of Europe’s longest shopping promenades.
From Luzern to Bern it takes only one hour by train or 1h 20 by car. I drove by car and took the highway and enjoyed seeing beautiful landscapes and the farmers animals on their green lush meadows. After I arrived in Bern, I parked my car in front of the Hotel where they have extra space for the arriving and departures guest’s cars, limousines and taxis. Entering the large and impressive Hotel Lobby the friendly staff greeted me with "Welcome to the Hotel Bellevue Palace" at the reception desk. I saw that they are practicing the COVID-19 Clean & Save measurements to protect their guests, ensuring guests enjoy their stay. Also Mr. Urs Bührer, the Hotel director and Mrs. Ariane Ludwig-Meichtry, the Director of Sales came down and gave me a warm welcome.
As my time was limited in Bern and it was a perfect summer day, I decided to discover the city and do the check-in later in the afternoon. The receptionist asked me if they can park my car and put my suitcase into the room. I was thankfully for this suggestion and I received a city map and a Bern Ticket. The Bern Ticket is your personal free public transport within the city of Bern and its surroundings and also from/to Bern Airport.
Every Tuesday and Saturday morning it is farmer’s market and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to take pictures and share them with you. Flowers, fruits, fishes, olives, cheese, bread, honey and much more are sold on the streets. I loved to see how busy people were. On the streets and everywhere in the shops you are reminded of COVID-19 and to respect the distance and if you wish you can disinfect your hands everywhere. Some, especially elderly people, wore face masks.
Before leaving the Bellevue Palace, Mrs. Ariane Ludwig-Meichtry recommended me to visit the Zentrum Paul Klee and showed me what to see and do when in Berne on the city map, I knew where to go after I was done with the farmers market. I took a walk on the Kramgasse. The Kramgasse ("Grocers Alley") is one of the principal streets in the medieval city centre of Bern. It was the center of urban life in Bern until the 19th century. Today, it is a popular shopping street and you find there many great shopping opportunities like antiquities, fashion and jewelry shops but also cafes and restaurants where you can sit outside. 6 km (4 miles) of arcades shelter from sun and rain. Walking down the street you will see many historical fountains (over 100 fountains with drinkable water in Bern) and the Zytglogge (Clock Tower), one of Bern’s most important attractions. It was the city gate in the past times and with its astronomical clock it is the landmark of the city. Four minutes before the hour, the medieval figures are set in motion: Chronos, the god of time, together with the Fool, the Cock and the bears, begin to move.
At the lower old town, I took the bus no. 12. It took me directly to the Zentrum Paul Klee (watch out for the bus in direction Zentrum Paul Klee). For art lovers this is a MUST when in Bern. Paul Klee was born in Münchenbuchsee near Bern in 1879 and died 1940 in Muralto in the Canton of Ticino, the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. 1914 was his artistic breakthrough when he briefly visited Tunisia. He wrote: "Color has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it, I know that it has hold of me forever... Color and I are one. I am a painter."
The Zentrum Paul Klee also hosts a museum shop and a modern café.
My next stop was the Hammam & Spa Oktogon in Bern. Every Tuesday doors are open for women only. The octagonal shape of the building gives the hammam its name "Oktogon". Here you can enjoy, relax and forget time…
Walking into the Hammam & Spa Oktogon I entered in another world! The color of the walls is terracotta and many Oriental elements such as lanterns, silver bowls decorated with ornaments as well as cushions and loungers create a harmonious and calming atmosphere.
I was welcomed by a friendly smiling Lady and got all the needed information about the course of my stay at the Hammam. I recommend booking all treatments and day spa in advance online or by phone. The wet area is on the 2nd floor with different steam and cleansing rooms and the warm relaxing bath. On the 3rd floor is the drying area where you can refresh yourself and take a fine tea fine tea and small hammam delicacies in the bistro. Relax in the beautiful Camekan on comfortable mats and cushions on the 4th floor.
Start with wearing the Pestemal. On the second floor, you warm up your body (38°) in a herbal steam room, the “Sogukluk”. Then, in the second room “Kese” take off the Pestemal and do the body peeling with the peeling-glove. When you are done you wrap the body with the Pestemal and take a bath in the “Sicklik”, the warm pool in the centre of the house. After this you enter in a herbal steam room (45°) again, called “Bingül”. This opens again the pores and in the fifth room “Lif”, the second peeling with soap follows. Ending the Hammam experience on the second floor with laying down and relaxing on a large warm stone.
After the extensive detoxification you can enjoy a refreshing cup of tea in the bistro on the 3rd floor. Small dishes can be ordered with it. They have hummus, mango lassi, yoghourt with honey and nuts, date cake, dried fruits. All is healthy and freshly made.
As a crowning finale, the relaxation room of the hammam "Camekan" with large mats and lounger platforms invites you to relax.
This was a wonderful treat for body and soul and I enjoyed it very much, felt like new afterwards and can recommend the Hammam & Spa Oktogon to everyone.
The entry ticket is CHF 45.- and includes: Pestemal (traditional linen) + Kese (peeling-glove) + Tea in the Bistro.
Hammam & Spa Oktogon Weihergasse 3 3005 Bern Tel. +41 31 311 31 01 email@example.com www.hammam-bern.ch
From the Hammam to the Bellevue Palace Hotel
A short ride with the cable car brings you back up to the Swiss Government Building next to the Bellevue Palace Hotel.
The cable care is located only a short walk away from the Hammam. You must show them your Bern Ticket.
The Hotel Bellevue Palace Berne *****
The Hotel Bellevue originally opened in 1865. Since 1913 when the new constructed Bellevue Palace Hotel in Berne opened its doors, the Bellevue continues to reflect splendor and the charm of the old salons and parlors. The rooms and suites are still spacious. In total they do have 126 rooms and 25 suites.
Here are the sizes of the Rooms & Suites:
19-46 m2 Standard Room
27-48 m2 Deluxe Room
42-58 m2 Junior Suite Superior
46-60 m2 Junior Suite Deluxe
53-81m2 Deluxe Suite
77m2 Tower Suite comes with a private gym
158m2 Presidential Suite comes with bulletproof windows
Junior Suite Deluxe with balcony, copyright Bellevue Palace Bern
I was booked in a deluxe room with balcony and connecting door.
My room no. 212 came with views of the Bernese Alps and the River Aare and was 28m2.
It features a box-spring bed, a working desk with international plug sockets, a minibar, a safe and Nespresso and tea maker, binoculars, WiFi, air conditioning, a bathroom with Molton Brown London amenities, a bathtube/shower, a bidet, a soft bathrobe, slippers, hairdryer, an extra chair and a toilette room.
I also got a welcome plate with fruits, flowers, a bar of chocolate and a welcome card. All what you need to feel home when away from home - I knew I’m in for a good stay!
Deluxe Room no. 212 with balcony. This view! Fruit basket, flowers, card and chocolate
Call 720 for Koran, Molton Brown London amenities, Bedtime
Dinner at VUE Brasserie & Terrasse with Mrs. Ludwig
Dresscode: smart casual
At 6pm I met Mrs. Ariane Ludwig-Meichtry in the lobby and we went for dinner. What surprised me, the patio was full and they offered us a table in the sun. As I love sun and it was not too hot we took this table. The view was fantastic. The Aare River and the Bernese Alps just in front of us!
If you like to have a table in the shade, you have to make a reservation in advance.
The waiter asked us what we want to drink and took our order. We had not to wait a long time and the beverages were served. A few minutes later we got a warm freshly baked white bread with rosemary and a little bowl with native olive oil from Portugal on the side. The menu card has a good selection of fish and seafood, meat and also some vegetarian dishes. They support the local farmers and buy whenever possible from Swiss producers.
I choose Lamb chops with Peppermint jus, no potatoes and she the Club Sandwich Orientale with Falafel and Halumi cheese with French Fires.
The Lamb chops were served in a round bowl (3 pieces) decorated with salad leaves and sprouts. The meat was juicy and tender and I loved the peppermint jus. The mint jus was served separately so I could pour it by myself over the meat. My dinner companion had the Club Sandwich Orientale and she got also some French Fries with it. This was a large portion. We had time to talk and she told me a lot about the history of the Bellevue Palace Hotel. It was interesting to hear that 1976 the Swiss National Bank was the owner of the Hotel and since 1994 it is in the hands of the Swiss Confederation. It played always a key role as a venue of official events hosted by the Swiss Federal Government. During the 1st World War, the General of the Swiss army used the Bellevue Hotel as his headquarters. During the 2nd World War the Hotel remained open to all guests. It was in this period that the Bellevue Bar became world famous. The bar at the Bellevue Palace was the haunt of a number of secret service agents. Diplomats, members of parliament, ambassadors and military attachés also met at the Bellevue Bar.
If you wish to know more about the Bellevue Palace Hotel I recommend to buy the book from Martin Fröhlich in German/English language. This can be purchased at the Hotel reception.
Back in my room, I enjoyed the view on my balcony and then started to read in the book “The Bellevue Palace Hotel in Berne” by Martin Fröhlich, I got from Mrs. Ariane Ludwig-Meichtry at the reception. The names of many crowned head, diplomats, politicians and army officers are on the guest lists.
Next morning, I woke up refreshed and energized. In the Bellevue Palace Hotel Bern you sleep in a box-spring bed and you can be assured to start the new day well relaxed.
Breakfast at VUE la cuisine néo-artisanale
Because of Covid-19 the breakfast was not on full display but I could order whatever I wanted. Salmon, cheese, different types of bread, orange juice, honey, sugarfree jam, little bowls, etc..
A la carte dishes are included in the breakfast price of CHF 40.- and breakfast is served from 7am – 11am. You can sit outside and enjoy the view or sit in the elegant room. Best coffee, fine black, green or herbal tea, a rich buffet and you can order omelette of your choice as well as sweets.
For guests with allergies they serve
- Special bread gluten free, lactose free and free of nuts
- Soy milk lactose free and vegan
- Porridge gluten free and/or lactose free.
Every Sunday from 11:30am to 3pm they serve aromatic coffees, teas and fruit juices along with an inviting buffet selection that includes classic Swiss muesli, mouth-watering appetizers and a Sunday roast courtesy of our Head Chef. CHF 75 per person, children aged from 3 to 15 years pay CHF 3 per year of their age.
Mini sandwiches, scones and exquisite petits fours on a étagère. Choose the tea from our Tea Menu, which contains an exquisite selection of fine teas, infusions and specialties from the French gourmet tea house "Mariages Frères". Afternoon tea at the BELLEVUE PALACE brings a touch of Paris to Bern, combining French nonchalance with British nobleness. Such perfect moments can be enjoyed every afternoon from 2pm – 6pm for as little as CHF 39.- per person.
A quick and smooth check-out and the Hotel Director Mr. Bührer was in the Lobby to say goodbye personally.
Plus points of the property:
Location – the perfect homebase or getaway to discover Switzerland (Lake Geneva region 1 hour away, 40 minutes to Interlaken, 1 hour from Zurich and Basel etc.) – away from the mass. A true hidden gem.
Member of Swiss Deluxe Hotels and Leading Hotels of the World
126 rooms, 25 of which are suites
Beautiful view from the Deluxe rooms, suites or terrace to the Bernese Alps and the river Aare
Official guesthouse of the Swiss Confederation and the only Grand Hotel in the town of Berne
Phone +41 (0)31 320 46 61
The Bellevue Palace Bern is a member of La Reserve Group, dedicated to providing exceptional luxury accommodations.
Good to know
The Parliament building
The Federal Square: One of the characteristic features of the new Federal Square is the large 60.6m by 36.6m rectangle of natural paving slabs, which points towards the Parliament building. The main attraction of Federal Square is the fountain, with its 26 jets of water symbolising the 26 cantons of Switzerland. Book a tour of the Parliament here.
Shopping in Bern
Hermès is just around the corner of the Bellevue Palace. In Bern you find everything you’re looking for – be it stylish boutiques, exquisite jewelry shops, antiquities, traditional markets or shopping malls of any size.
Museums in Bern
Every Saturday in July and August free entry! You don’t want to miss the Abegg-Stiftung
where the special exhibition 2020 will show exquisite silks from al-Andalus, the Muslim south of Spain. These textiles were much coveted by the Christian elite in the northern part of the Iberian peninsula. I also took a tour in the private villa where many antique furnitures, paintings and other items they collected are on exhibition.
This museum however is not in the city but you can reach it by car in around 30 minutes. It is a very nice ride where you can enjoy the landscapes and see the farmer’s land.
Here you find other museums of Bern: https://www.museen-bern.ch/en/specials/
The Dählhölzli-Zoo is open again! Information to visit the zoo can be found here.
Two Tourist Information offices: One at the Animal Park Bern, BearPark an the other at the main train station.
Bern, UNESCO Worldheritage, nestled among lakes and mountains, in one of Switzerland's most beautiful landscapes.
Please remind if you respect and you know the rules of how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, you can travel safe and explore places you want to visit.
Feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org, if you visit Switzerland.
July 2020 © Copyright Pearls of Switzerland. Text and pictures Cristina Tschuppert | Photo Bern Credit: Switzerland Tourism