Fairmont Grand Hotel Geneva *****
Updated: Jun 16
What an amazing weekend we had right in the heart of Geneva! Special offer for you at the end of the article!
I must admit to having spent a couple of evenings in Java nightclub housed in the Fairmont Grand Hotel when I first moved to Geneva in 2010 but I had no idea of the host of wonderful things to discover above ground...until this weekend!
We arrived at the hotel after everyone had finished school on Friday evening and were immediately impressed by the large foyer with its cool lighting and open space. We received a warm welcome and Jude and Alba were delighted to be given a soft backpack shaped like a dog, while Elio got a little fluffy cow as a gift. We were also given a travel card which would give us free access to public transport during our stay which is very practical for hopping on and off trams, buses and boats.
We were soon shown up to our room...or rooms plural, as it turned out that we had been given a suite AND an adjoining room for the children. The view is incredible as the hotel is literally across the road from the lake and we had a perfect view of the Jet d'Eau right in front of us. In the children's room, they had some sweets and chocolate waiting but not just any chocolate...this was in the form of a jigsaw puzzle so it had added entertainment value! We also had a very cool tablet of chocolate in our room which we managed to keep away from little hands. The rooms were really spacious and the bathroom in the suite was wonderful with a huge bathtub in the middle and some of the nicest smelling toiletries I have come across.
That evening, we set off to eat at one of the many restaurants within easy walking distance of the hotel and were soon installed on a sunny terrace for an early bite. Back at the hotel and the children were impatient to try the bath so they all got in together for a soak before hopping into bed.
Elio had a bit of an unsettled night so we were really grateful to have enough space to allow the rest of us to sleep. It made such a big difference!!
The next morning we were awake early and headed down for breakfast which we ate on the terrace of Il Vero restaurant. The breakfast is really good with plenty of pastries and cakes, fruit, yoghurt and cereal as well as savoury options including your choice of eggs. It was wonderful to start the day with the view of the lake and the warmth of the sun.
We spoke to Geneva Tourism when we were planning this trip and with the hotel, they organised something rather special for us...a CHOCOLATE TOUR with Local Flavours Tours, so following breakfast we went to meet our guide Céline in the foyer of the hotel to get started. If you haven't heard of these tours before, it's a must-do for your visit to Geneva which combines culture and history as well as plenty of chocolate tasting whilst discovering some of the city's hidden gems. We set off for our first destination with great excitement! I won't spoil it by telling you where we went but we were really impressed with way the tour is designed with a great combination of interesting facts, anecdotes and historical details as we visited the chocolatiers on the route. We used to live in Geneva and thought we knew it pretty well so it was a wonderful surprise to discover places we had never visited, and we learnt so much along the way. We all had our favourite chocolates from the selection we tried, and we loved having the chance to try and guess some of the flavours we were tasting (Jude is fiendishly good at this kind of game). Elio was happy to participate too and munched his way through his fair share of the chocolate before falling asleep in his pushchair. Céline is really lovely, extremely kind, patient with the children and very knowledgable, so it was a real pleasure to spend the morning with her. We came away with our own box of delicious chocolates and were buzzing after such a wonderful activity.
We had planned to have lunch at this point but the children were so full of chocolate we decided to grab a little snack instead and head back to the hotel. Since our arrival the day before, the children had been impatient to visit the swimming pool so we decided to head down there while it was quiet after lunch. The pool and its surroundings are an incredible oasis, it's hard to believe it is in the middle of the city with its palm trees and tropical feel. The swimming pool was lovely and warm and we all got in without thinking twice (I have never seen Jean get into a pool without at least 5 minutes of procrastination :-)). The hotel has a selection of floats and inflatables for children which is a really excellent idea so we helped ourselves to a couple of those when we arrived. Swimming with Elio is always a bit of a gamble and the outcome is very much dependent on his mood, so we are usually a bit nervous about how he will react, but the fact that the water was so warm put him in "bath mode" (he loves the bath) and he was soon laughing and enjoying being swirled around in the water while Jude and Alba splashed around in the shallow area which is good for non-swimmers. Elio's mood took a turn after about 20 minutes and the giggles turned to over-excited and very loud screams so we made a bit of a hasty exit back to the room where the children wanted another bath :-).
Towards the end of the afternoon, we decided to go for a little stroll along the lakeside and found a spot for a drink. Just opposite the hotel is a merry-go-round so Jean stocked up on tickets for Jude and Alba while he and I sat with Elio. We don't get into the city much so it was a real joy to see lots of people, lots of shops and the buzz that comes from being in an international city.
For dinner that evening, Jean and I made the rather difficult decision to entrust Elio to a babysitter organised by the hotel while we went to the hotel restaurant for dinner with Jude and Alba. This was hard for us because we are really keen to take him with us everywhere we go, but there are times when we have to admit that it's not fair on him (or the other children) to drag him around when he clearly needs to rest. Leaving Elio with a babysitter is a big step with us as we always worry about how he will behave and whether the babysitter will be able to cope, but we needn't have worried as the babysitter who arrived was very calm and competent and unflappable in the face of Elio's shouting.
Happy that Elio was in good hands, the four of us headed down to the Il Vero restaurant for dinner on the terrace. We had a really hard time choosing what we were going to eat but eventually decided and settled down to enjoy the evening. The children were extremely excited to have this kind of "grown up" evening with us and we had so much fun together as Alba made up funny stories to make us all laugh. The service in the restaurant was impeccable and the food was delicious! The atmosphere on the terrace was lovely and it's hard to imagine a better spot on a warm evening. Don't miss the chance to have a nice glass of Rosé served from a magnum and try the delicious Colpa dello Chef (Tagliatelle with Summer truffle from Norcia and Parmigiano Reggiano).
When we had finished eating we decided to surprise the children with a trip to the big wheel in the Jardin anglais. This is something we wouldn't even attempt with Elio and it was a really nice way to end a lovely evening.
Elio had a better night and we woke up feeling well rested and ready for the day ahead. Since we were due to have brunch later, we opted for a very light breakfast before Jean took Jude and Alba out on the mouette (Geneva's public transport boat with a stop just opposite the hotel) and gave them the chance to use the last of their tickets for the merry-go-round while I stayed in the room with Elio who had fallen asleep in my arms.
The brunch takes place in the Il Vero restaurant and again we had a lovely table on the terrace. The quantity of food options is impressive with so many delicious things to choose from, it was hard to know where to start! There are lots of lovely salads, fish options, cheeses, fruit, charcuteries, and hot dishes such as lamb freshly prepared. Jude and Alba were keen to try the pizza, sausages and bacon to start and we found some pureed vegetables for Elio which he really enjoyed before getting stuck into the desserts (he particularly loved the cheesecake). Damien (who Alba later announced she was in love with :-)) kindly took the children to choose some juice from the juice bar which they were really excited about, and their eyes were on stalks when we showed them the dessert table! We spent quite a while there while they deliberated over what they would like to try. It's a really lovely way to spend a family moment on a Sunday in unparalleled surroundings.
We just adore Geneva, it's where I met Jean, where Jude and Elio were born and where we first fell in love with Switzerland, so it's always a treat to visit, but we really saw it from a different angle this weekend as we stepped behind the impressive facade of one of the most famous hotels on the lake and saw the city lying before us. This, coupled with the chocolate tour which gave us the chance to notice treasures we had previously overlooked and learn more about the roots of the city, gave us the chance to see the place with fresh eyes.
The Fairmont Grand Hotel is such a wonderful place, with fantastic staff and superb facilities which really enable guests to switch off and relax. The pool and spa area make it feel like being on holiday with the added advantage of being steps away from the city with its shops and restaurants, not forgetting the fabulous new beach resort just across the lake!
We would love for you to be able to experience this too and have worked with the hotel to organise a special family package for you which includes:
• 20% discount on the parental room
• 50% discount on the communicating room for children
• Upgrade upon check-in depending on availability
• Special VIP treatment for children and adults in rooms and on arrival.
• Free access to the swimming pool and relaxation area
• Credit of CHF 35.- for a massage at the Hotel's Spa Valmont so that parents can enjoy a relaxing break.
The discount code is PFRO .
It is necessary to do a search for 2 adults and max. 1 child in order to be able to proceed with the discounted reservation.
In order to take advantage of the 50% discount on the second room for children, it will be reserved directly at the hotel (you can leave the hotel a comment on the reservation with the request for the second room).
Fairmont Grand Hotel Geneva
Quai du Mont-Blanc 19 Geneva, 1201, Switzerland
Téléphone : +41 22 908 90 81
Fax : +41 22 908 9091