The Fairmont Le Montreux Palace is a five-star luxury hotel in Switzerland, offering views of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps. It’s won myriad awards and accolades, and is a stunning example of Belle-Époque architecture worthy of its “palace” moniker. This review of Fairmont Le Montreux Palace features room photos, our thoughts on whether it’s worth the money, an embarrassing anecdote about our stay here, and other info about the hotel.
Let’s start with location. As far as countries go, Switzerland is a fairly “high rent” travel destination, and Lake Geneva is on the upper end of that. On the upper end of Lake Geneva’s upper end (still with us?) is Montreux. This area is known as the “Swiss Riviera,” (that should tell you something about its status) and the Fairmont is the epitome of luxury in Montreux, which itself is known for the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival and the celebrated Christmas Market.
Suffice to say, the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace is incredibly fancy, and about as sophisticated and elegant of a hotel as you’ll find anywhere in the world. Rather than going for trendy and chic, this Fairmont goes for traditional, well-appointed luxury. And with that, before we get to the substance of our review of the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, I thought I’d share an amusing anecdote…
If you followed our Disneyland Paris Trip Report over on Disney Tourist Blog, you might already know that we left Paris in the soaking rain, after running a Half Marathon, changing only socks and shirts before jumping in the car for the ~6 hour drive to Lake Geneva, Switzerland. This was the second half of what was basically a road trip, and the backseat had accrued a variety of junk over the course of the trip.
Moreover, my last stay at a Fairmont before Le Montreux Palace was at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in the Canadian Rockies, which was far from a luxury experience, so you could say that I had forgotten just how nice Fairmont can be. It’s against that backdrop that we arrived at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, smelling like wet dogs and looking the part, too.
We pulled up to the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace and got out of the car, looking disheveled, as garbage basically overflowed from the car. A swarm of valets dressed in suits tried to assist us. Things got no better in the lobby, as literally every other guest was dressed in suit or cocktail attire. It was like that scene in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts is made to feel uncomfortable in a high end store, except (spoiler alert) we would later have no such vindication.
This was all pretty embarrassing in the moment, but it’s kind of amusing in retrospect. It was easy to feel the weight of eyes looking us up and down, but it’s not like we’d ever see those people again. While I love luxury hotels, even on my best day I’m much more ‘at home’ in rustic lodging.
Snobby rich folks in designer-wear are not “my people,” so there’s always a certain amount of awkwardness or feeling that I don’t belong in such venues. Never has it been more pronounced than on this evening, though. The fact remains that we’d never see these people again, so why care? Well, I think because brushing off judgmental stares is a bit easier said than done.
After what seemed like an eternity checking in (it should be noted that the Fairmont staff was nothing but gracious, polite, and accommodating–there was no condescension or any implication from them that we did not belong there), we were off to our room…
This room stood in stark contrast to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, and was unbelievably luxurious, with a meticulous level of detail and wonderful touches. Not that the brand cares or needed it, but this room more than “redeemed” Fairmont in my eyes after that Jasper experience.
Our room at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace was impeccably furnished, and quite sizable. My favorite feature–by far–was the balcony that overlooked Lake Geneva.
It seems more and more hotels are eliminating their balconies due to liability concerns, but fortunately, that was not the case here. There were actually two doors to this balcony, and it spread the entire length of our room. I had coffee out there in the morning while working on my laptop; I don’t enjoy working when I’m traveling, but doing so on a balcony with views of the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva makes it a bit more palatable.
The bedding was utterly magical. Super-soft pillows, an incredibly plush mattress, and fine sheets. It probably didn’t hurt that I had just run a Half Marathon that morning, but I slept like a baby.
As with the rest of the room, the bathroom was incredibly nice, with double sinks and the sinks separated from the rest of the room. No complaints whatsoever here; this was easily the nicest bathroom of our trip to Europe.
Outside of our room, the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace was even nicer, if that’s somehow possible…
While we only did breakfast at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace (delicious but pricey), there are a variety of options in the hotel, including MP’S Bar & Grill, Montreux Jazz Café, Funky Claude’s Bar, and La Terrasse du Petit Palais. Dining throughout Switzerland is pricey, and these restaurants are no exception.
As seems to be almost the norm at Fairmont properties, there’s also the Willow Stream spa wellness facility. The jacuzzis, hammam, sauna, and pools are all included in a stay at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, with other treatments available for an additional charge. Unfortunately, we did not have time for any of this.
During our stay at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, there was a national (or international?) security convention, which could explain all the guests dressed to the nines in the lobby when we checked in. I mention this because it was clear this hotel has a lot of convention space…you know, in case this review “inspires” you to hold your next convention in Switzerland.
Overall, I cannot say enough positive things about the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace. The way this hotel blends traditional style, beautiful architecture, and lavish design with modern luxury is really something to behold. While I enjoy trendy and hip hotels, there’s something to be said for a hotel like this that gets everything right and doesn’t need any sort of gimmick to really wow you. You can imagine the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace being nice 100 years ago, and 100 years into the future. It feels like a timeless and established hotel that always has been, and always will be rich. Of course, all of this comes at a price, but if a stay at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace is within your means, I’d highly recommend it. I suspect it’s very unlikely to disappoint.