For the hearty (and even your faithful reporter) a ten-minute “stroll” up the vertically-enriched asphalt path to the Château Gütsch Hotel is well worth the physical effort. Its white walls, turret façades and huge, lit “GÜTSCH” letters, produce a look and feel not dissimilar to the famous HOLLYWOOD nameplate in California. One of the finest views of the city can be enjoyed while cooling down with a Luzerner Bier (original), safe from attack due to the twin rolling-stock (Nos. 31, 35) cannons that protect the patio and volleyball court from unwanted intruders.
Deeper pockets can move up and over a few more metres to the (most-assuredly) high-end Restaurant Petit Palais that, this day, was playing lofty host to a newly married couple. Not to be outdone by Palace Luzern and its conductor-named meeting rooms, the Toscanini Suite, boasting a marble bath, is currently the only overnight stay in the hotel, requiring a week’s notice (and CHF 1,200) to reserve. (It was Arturo Toscanini’s artistic vision that led to the creation of the Lucerne Festival after conducting a concert in front of Tribschen—Wagner’s home for 6 years is just a short walk from Lucerne—in 1938.)
Similar to approaching Lucerne by train (cross-reference below), the expansive view of Kultur und Kongresszentrum Luzern, the harbour and Old Town with green, rolling hills giving way to the likes of Mount Rigi as the backdrop, the daily comings and goings of tourists and locals appear to be just so many bees darting about, securing the basics of life. Come dusk, then night, a vast array of light sources reflect in just as many ways on the water.
Taking on a special sheen is Jean Fourel’s light and water emporium that plays host to the world’s great artists (KKL’s concert hall), conference-savvy minds (Lucerne Hall) and many works of impeccable art (Kunstmuseum).
That so few of the millions who pass through Lucerne’s gates make this marvellous trek speaks to how we “can’t see the forest for the trees”—especially when they are above, rather than in front of us. Having been rescued from bankruptcy by the Union Bank of Switzerland, plans are well under way to reopen as a boutique hotel in 2012. (Hopefully, the cable-car service will resume, making the upward climb as pleasant as the destination.) Until then, the view is still as spectacular as ever. JWR