A Swiss wellbeing adventure

A Swiss wellbeing adventure

MARIA BOYLE visits the mediaeval city of Lucerne and beyond

Kapellbrücke in Lucerne (photo Lucerne Tourism)

STUNNING mountains and lakes, clean air in the shadow of the Alps, and some of the world’s most famous retreats focused on wellness and relaxation.

For the optimum wellbeing weekend, the ideal starting spot is the picture perfect city of Lucerne. Located in the centre of Switzerland, it sits at the foot of the Alps, along the River Reuss and the edge of Lake Lucerne.

Lucerne has long been the ‘go to’ wellbeing destination ever since Queen Victoria visited in 1868 and spent five weeks there

The old part of the city is car-free and its cobbled streets are lined with independent shops and fresco-adorned historic houses, making it a fascinating place to wander around.

We chose to stay overnight in the newly opened Lubo boutique hostel a historic 18th-century building located in the medieval part of Lucerne. Billed as a fully automated, digital hotel (basically this means online check-in and mobile keys), its 41 spacious and immaculate rooms are spread over six floors and make for a comfortable stay. Rokko café adjoins the hotel and serves great coffee, breakfasts and, as the day progresses, Bao Buns and high-end cocktails.

With just 24-hours to take in the sights, we enjoyed a walking tour of the city, visiting Kornmarkt, the medieval square with its town hall and tower, the Saturday market stalls, and also the city’s beautiful Jesuit church, built in the 1660s, Switzerland’s first baroque sacred building.


The tour took us across Lucerne’s famous Chapel Bridge, the largest wooden covered bridge in Europe. Dating back to the 17th century, it contains paintings that depict Lucerne’s history.

After a quick stop at the city’s oldest chocolate shop – Au Cachet: la maison du chocolat - we headed uphill and walked along the old city walls which were built in 14th century and are considered to be one of the longest (nearly 900 metres) and best-preserved fortified walls in Switzerland.

Lucerne has plenty of great eating and drinking spots from pavement cafes and bars to Michelin star establishments. During our stay we enjoyed aperitifs at Die Storchen in the old part of the city, great Italian food at Bacio della Mamma and Spanish tapas and paella at Bolero located in the livelier part of the city which comes alive at night.


Day two and it was time to head to the mountains.

Mineralbad & Spa Rigi Kaltbad is one of Switzerland’s oldest mineral baths. We took the boat to Vitznau and then jumped on to Mount Rigi Railway for a scenic ride uphill to the spa.

The baths - designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta –have been a destination for wellness for some 600 years when the first bath chapel was built in 1545.

They are a popular destination for both residents and visitors given the spa includes indoor and outdoor pools with whirlpools, massage jets, a crystal spa, steam room and sauna. You can follow this with a tasty lunch at Rugistübli, located right next to the spa.

For the ultimate spa experience, it has to be the five star Bürgenstock Hotel & Alpine Spa (burgenstockresort.com/en)

Bürgenstock Resort

The luxurious retreat is the epitome of understated elegance, set on a forested ridge 500 metres above Lake Lucerne, with panoramic views that have really have the wow factor.

Bürgenstock has a rich history: the historic hotel was built in 1873 and was a magnet for the European rich and famous including Hollywood stars given its idyllic location.

In the Bürgenstock Hotel there are 102 rooms and suites, all have the wow factor – with the best views guaranteed.

As well as its three championship tennis courts, bike paths and walking trails, the 152.8m Hammetschwand lift (the highest exterior lift in Europe), a nine-hole golf course, 69-seater cinema, kids’ club, the hotel has an award-winning Alpine spa which lays claim to be Switzerland’s largest spa – all 10,000 square metres of it.

This offers the ultimate spa experience, spread over three floors, with its five pools including an outdoor infinity pool which is cantilevered over the property to make you feel as if you are floating, offering perfect views of Mount Pilatus, Mount Rigi and Lake Lucerne.

The spa also has 13 luxurious treatment rooms staffed by highly experienced therapists. I opted for an hour-long KOS Paris Full Body Invigorating Massage that consisted of delicately scented oils applied to the skin as the therapist performed a series of stretching movements to release stress and tension through soft kneading motions. Bliss.

Bürgenstock Hotel & Alpine Spa

Bürgenstock has a choice of ten restaurants and bars offering a range of eating and dining options. For lunch, we enjoyed a delicious vegan-friendly vitality salad followed by pan-seared sea bass with vialone nano risotto, saffron beurre blanc and wild broccoli during lunch at The Lakeside Bar & Cigar Lounge. The lounge has floor to ceiling windows span six metres, offering more wow views of Lake Lucerne and the mountains.

Another foodie highlight was dinner at Spices. Housed in a glass box, suspended 450 metres above the lake, the restaurant offers an excellent choice of Asian cuisine, bringing authentic cooking and fabulous flavours from Japan, Thailand, India and China, perfect for the resort’s international clientele. We opted for the Chef’s Menu and every dish was exceptional and service matched perfectly.

A weekend in Lucerne delivers on the wellbeing stakes – with a chance to enjoy fresh air, take in the truly incredible views, be at one with nature, and relax and feel rejuvenated. With its vast choice of wellness offerings, visitors can experience wellbeing at both ends of the budget and feel like they have turned back the clock every minute spent in Lucerne.

Swiss Air flies from London to Zurich. One-way fares start from £76 to Zurich swiss.com

The all-in-one Swiss Travel Pass which can be used on the train, bus and boat network. Prices start from £186 for a three-day second-class ticket mystsnet.com.

Mineralbad & Spa Rigi Kaltbad .rigi.ch/en/attractions/mineral-baths-spa-rigi-kaltbad-ccd58c3bd4 Adults CHF 38.00 and children CHF 17.00

Bürgenstock Hotel & Alpine Spa Lake and mountain view deluxe room from CHF 1,400 includes breakfast and access to the spa. Day packages for the Alpine Spa start from CHF 270 per person - includes return boat from Lucerne and funicular to Bürgenstock. https://burgenstockresort.com/en

The Lubo Prices from CHF 120 to 250 CHF for a double room per night (depending on the season) .the-lubo.ch/en/

For more information on Lucerne luzern.com/en and Switzerland MySwitzerland.com