From its landmark position in the hills above Zürich, the Dolder Grand offers guests a glorious art collection amid a spectacular setting
The Dolder Grand, set in the scenic Swiss city of Zürich, is an art lover’s dream come true. This historic five-star hotel, long-favoured by celebrities, as well as European and Middle Eastern royalty, dates back to 1899, but it was recently expanded and renovated, and is now home to over 100 famed artworks.
The renovations were spearheaded by London architects Foster and Partners, who demolished all annexes constructed after 1899, and combined the original, landmark building, known as the Curhaus, with two modern wings – the Spa Wing and the Golf Wing. The new wings blend seamlessly with the historic structure, as a diaphanous glass door leads directly from the hotel lobby to the ultra-modern Foster-designed additions.
The Dolder Grand is a veritable treasure trove of splendid artworks, beginning with Andy Warhol’s 11-metre Big Retrospective Painting, boldly displayed above the hotel’s front desk. On the spa terrace, Fernando Botero’s generously sized sculpture Woman with Fruit amuses guests soaking in the outdoor whirlpools, while the colourful Takashi Murakami statues Scarlet Heart and Peaked Cap adorn two separate floors inside the Golf Wing.
If you’re dining at Michelin-starred The Restaurant, you can admire Salvador Dalí’s captivating Femmes Métamorphosées – Les Sept Arts, and if you’re in the glass hallway leading to the spa, you can flirt with Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely’s mischievous Le Monde. Henry Moore’s imposing bronze sculpture Three-Piece Reclining Figure: Draped, sits grandly on the garden terrace.
Significant works by artists including Joan Miró, Robert Indiana, Zaha Hadid, Damien Hirst and Keith Haring are interspersed throughout the grounds. For guests wanting to delve deeper into the Dolder Grand’s art collection, the hotel offers an art iPad that guides them through every artwork exhibited at the property.
In addition to stand-alone pieces, the Dolder Grand integrates artistic approaches into its architectural fabric, as exemplified by this year’s reinvention of Saltz restaurant by artist Rolf Sachs. With his distinctive ability to blur the boundaries between art and design, Sachs selected unusual materials like neon lights, salt, rock and felt, and combined them in an eccentric manner to create the Swiss-inspired artistic interior.
The most striking element in Saltz is a suspended chunk of rock, sourced from the Julier Pass in the Swiss Alps and hung from red climbing ropes. It serves to tie in the various sections of the space, each of which exudes a distinct atmosphere. The raised section of Saltz is the same brilliant red as the climbing ropes, echoing the colour of the Swiss flag, while a jagged neon light mounted on the wall represents Switzerland’s mountains.
On the lower level, Sachs placed two extra-long benches – one in red and one in dazzling blue – each facing more sober individual gray chairs. On the wall across the dining areas, Sachs artistically installed various rocks, protruding from the wall, while, near the entrance, he affixed rows of Swiss railway clocks, all indicating the same time.
Take the Dada City Tour
The year 2016 marks the centennial of the Dada art movement, which was born in Zürich in 1916. While the European continent was enduring the ravages of World War I, Zürich seemed like a blessed safe haven, and it attracted renowned intellectuals and artists, including Hugo Ball, a German dramatist from Munich credited with having founded the Dada movement. The Dadaists experimented with sound poems, collages and photomontages, creating modern, mystical, bizarre art that quickly became popular around the globe.
Zürich Tourism offers fascinating Dada walking tours around the city, allowing visitors to learn more about the artistic phenomenon and visit various Dada landmarks. In addition, Zürich is staging various Dada-related events throughout the year as a tribute to the movement.
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The Collectors Issue #38, pages 118-121.