19 October 2014

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 October 19, 2014
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I have been staying at Le Montreux Palace annually for many years now and can honestly say that each time is absolute perfection.  There is just something about this hotel that keeps me coming back year after year.  This last visit was no different with the exception of us spending ten days at the hotel to end what was the perfect visit to Switzerland to celebrate a milestone birthday for my other half. It also happened to be the 80th anniversary of the Montreux Grand Prix which added a whole different dimension to the town during our stay.


 
As a food allergic traveler with celiac disease, I am always amazed at the lengths that Fairmont Hotels around the globe go-to to ensure that guests have a flawless experience when it comes to dining options.  All Fairmonts have Lifestyle Cuisine Plus Menus that offer a range of dietary options but Le Montreux Palace truly goes above and beyond.  Each year I e-mail the food and beverage staff to ensure that they will have some of my favorite breakfast options as daily breakfast in La Palmeraie is something that I look forward to with great anticipation – namely because it is the one time a year that I can gorge myself with gluten-free croissants and pain au chocolat.  The staff never disappoints and each visits yields new options for me to enjoy.

This trip we were arriving from a few nights near Vevey so we arrived around noon for check-in.  Our room was ready and we were shown to it.  It is a nice touch when reception actually walks you to the room.  We know the hotel very well but it is a small detail that I enjoy as it makes the experience feel more special.  We had a lovely lake view junior suite with a double terrace.  This was the first time that we were closer to the end of the main building so it afforded a different view than we have had in the past.  The room itself is what we have come to expect at the Palace.  It’s modern but still maintains the integrity of the history of the building through architectural details.  There is an ample sitting area with a separate work-space, a large entry foyer, and the bathroom features a separate soaking tub and shower stall.  The heated marble floors make them easy on the feet. The room is quite similar in layout to the one-bedroom suite we had last year but had a smaller bathroom and lacks an additional half-bath — but we were just two people so the junior suite is more than enough space.


 
There was a lovely note from the manager and some welcome chocolates waiting for us.  Again, very small touches that definitely add-up to make this a true luxury experience.  I also enjoy the daily seasonal fruit presentations that change throughout your stay complete with a finger bowl with rose petals.

There are two things that I always look forward to at the Palace, gluten-free breakfast at La Palmeraie and cocktails at Harry’s New York Bar.  Alas, Harry’s is no more and was being renovated to re-open as Funky Claude’s Bar – a tribute to Claude Nobs.  So this trip the hotel re-opened one of the grand old bars, La Rose d’Or.  Let’s first talk about what in in my opinion is the finest gluten-free breakfast on the planet.

We always start our day at La Palmeraie.  If you can get it included in the room rate do it because otherwise it will set you back 40 CHF per person – but is well worth it.  The room itself is bright and airy with windows providing a lovely view and outdoor seating available if weather permits.  The breakfast offerings are large and there is everything from cold options including cereals, cold cuts, salmon, cheese – pretty much anything you could want.  Hot selections include eggs, bacon, veal sausage, potatoes, pancakes – again, you name it and it is there.  There is also a chef-manned omelet station creating whatever you desire and you can order eggs cooked to order as well.  The coffee is wonderful and I never drink fruit juice but always indulge in fresh squeezed orange juice each morning I am there.

Breakfast

Some of the gluten-free breakfast offerings. Note everything sealed in containers to prevent cross-contamination.

As for the gluten-free options, the staff always go above and beyond to provide me with a large selection of options but I always tend to binge on the most flakey gluten-free croissants and sweet pain au chocolat that I can never seem to find in the United States.  It doesn’t end there though – there is everything from a selection of cereals and crisp bread to cookies and bars (always offered for me to take as a snack).  The staff is always the same friendly faces who run an extremely well-oiled machine. I actually found out for the first time this trip that the head of La Palmeraie actually goes out and selects all of my gluten-free options personally.  Again, this is true five star service and I cannot thank them enough. A big thank you to Katja and Meike and their entire team who provide the most amazing and flawless experience.

Our evening routine is always cocktails for a few hours at Harry’s (where we would sometimes linger for dinner) but this trip it was La Rose d’Or which while small offered a glimpse back into the hotel’s history.  Just off the large foyer area it had a few tables inside, bar seats, and outdoor seating.  It was lovely to sit with the windows opened with a breeze coming in watching the sun set over Lake Geneva.  The staff was still pretty much the same and always remember what we drink as soon as we arrive – which is no small feat as there is eleven months between our visits.  Georges goes above and beyond to make sure we are well-looked after. Cocktails and bar nibbles are always perfection and service is simply flawless.


 
As far as I am concerned the Palace is the only place to stay in Montreux and I am already looking forward to our return next year — which should hopefully be a pit-stop on our way to Nairobi. In case you missed it don’t miss my review of United Airlines BusinessFirst and Brussels Airlines Business Class that got me to and from Switzerland in gluten-free style. There are more dining posts to come in my Swiss series but be sure to check out my reviews from this trip of the Montreux Jazz Café, Restuarant L’Olivier, and Le Mirador Kempinski. I am off to Bermuda in November at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess to check-out their renovations so be sure to stay tuned for that review.

Now please enjoy some pictures from our hike above Montreux at Gorges du Chauderon. Truly a stunning somewhat hidden secret of Montreux.


 


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