Coming from the airport, I arrive at the main train station, and wheel my case to the hotel in Zurich’s old town. It’s not as difficult as I expect, and takes about 10 minutes. The beautifully preserved, mostly pedestrianised old town is itself an enchanting welcome, as is discovering that the hotel occupies two handsome old buildings, one of which is on the corner of a small square. The hotel lobby is on the first floor of the building, but there’s a lift to reception. It’s an inviting space, with a Scandinavian-style wood floor and minimalist furniture, but some original frescoes have also been preserved. There’s complimentary tea, coffee and water, and delicious croissants in the morning.
The hotel is on Marktgasse, one of the main old streets, and architecturally one of the most impressive. Nearby is Cabaret Voltaire, where the Dada movement was founded in 1916, and Conditorei Schober, one of the city's oldest coffee shops. It's within walking distance of all the central sights.
The hotel was one of the oldest inns in the city, and its walls date back to 1291. A multimillion-dirham renovation has created a 39-room hotel that preserves the facade and some interior features, including frescoes and wood panelling, but the overall feeling is of Scandinavian modernism, with wood floors and minimalist designer furniture throughout. On weekdays, the hotel is popular with business guests in the banking, fashion and consulting industries; foreign tourists are mainly from Germany, Britain, France and Asia.
My room is on the third floor, with a view down onto a scenic old square. While the room seems well-designed, with a parquet floor, a smart desk area, a designer armchair and slick bathroom, there’s no bath, only one of the two shower heads works, and the water temperature isn’t stable. One of the small curtains is missing, and I had a reaction to the material used in the bedding. There’s also a surprising amount of noise from the streets below, so I can’t sleep with the window open.
Staff are friendly and responsive.
The hotel has two restaurants, Baltho, a fine-dining restaurant, and Delish, a casual cafe serving salads, sandwiches and a changing menu of hot dishes. At Baltho, I like the seafood risotto (30 Swiss francs [Dh114]); its salads (from 13 francs [Dh49]) are also very tempting. Breakfast at Delish (30 francs [Dh114]) is good, with a generous pot of tea, good coffee, fantastic home-made croissants and toast, and a choice of egg dishes. In the evening, I try some wholesome salads from about 5 francs (Dh19) each, which makes a great break from the overdose of bread, cheese and meat that most experience in Switzerland.
The design, the untouristy feel of the hotel and its clientele, the building and the location.
The issues with the room made my stay less restful than I had hoped.
Despite a collection of small problems, I would go back to this hotel for its fresh feel and lovely location.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Marktgasse Hotel cost from 259 francs (Dh981) per person, including taxes, plus free entry to a local gym and sauna.