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1 City 5 Ways

Zurich by Daniel Hager

Photo by Daniel Hager.

Banking-heavy Zürich has recently turned a more youthful corner: Cutting-edge museums, budget-friendly design hotels and thumping all-night parties have opened up the city on the Limmat River to a new generation of travelers. But that doesn’t mean it’s become Europe’s latest hub for backpackers. In fact, blocks of luxury shopping, Michelin-starred restaurants, relaxing thermal spas and a high-brow performance arts community have strengthened Zürich’s reputation as a favored destination among glamorous jet setters.


HIPSTER

       
Kino Xenix.        

Where to Stay: Gasthaus Zum Guten Glück
The 10 rooms in this affordable guesthouse in Kreis (district) 3 are sparsely outfitted with cool sculptural desks, checkerboard floors and shocking-red area rugs, all of which orbit around very comfortable white-linen-clad beds. Take note, this hotel has only shared bathrooms.

Afternoon: Im Viadukt
The 19th-century train viaduct that separates the city center from Zürich West was transformed in 2010 by the cheese shops, restaurants and grocers that went in underneath its 53 arches.

Dinner: Rosso
This signless warehouse-turned-Italian restaurant in Zürich West can be tricky to find. But once you do, you’ll be treated to fresh pastas and wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas in a darkly lit, open-plan room that you’ll share with the city’s well-heeled residents.

Evening: Kino Xenix
Cinemas are a big part of Zürich’s social fabric, and the coolest is this one adjacent to Helvetiaplatz in Kreis 4, where obscure art-house films dominate. Its outdoor space hosts boules players during the day and crowds of bar revelers at night.

Nightcap: Dante
In-the-know Zürichers gather at this art deco-inspired gin boîte in the city’s former red light district. Owner Alvaro Marangoni, a gin maker himself, hand picks all the liquor served at the bar. 


WELLNESS TRAVELER

       
Frau Gerolds Garten.        

Where to Stay: B2 Boutique Hotel & Spa
Retreat to this 60-room hotel inside the old Hürlimann Brewery on the city’s leafy outskirts. Standard rooms are a bit small, so hang out in the Library Lounge, with its 33,000-book inventory and 36-foot ceilings. 

Lunch: Frau Gerolds Garten
It doesn’t get more locavore than a meal at this urban garden in Kreis 5, where vegetables are farmed on-site. Order your BBQ bratwurst or simple vegetarian pasta at its respective shipping container. 

Daytime: Zürichsee Rundweg
Locals hike and picnic the 121-kilometer landscape that surrounds Lake Zürich. Take a 4-kilometer stroll along Silh River in Kreis 2 toward Adliswil, where you can ride a cable car up to the views from Felsenegg.

Afternoon: Thermal Baths & Spa Zürich
There’s an otherworldly vibe to the thermal bathing under 100-year-old vaulted stone ceilings, but if you prefer the open air, head to the rooftop pool for unobstructed city views. 

Dinner: Haus Hiltl
The buffet at this famous vegetarian restaurant has Indian curries, quinoa salad and much more—including local favorite Züri-Geschnetzeltes, a mushroom/cream dish that trades in sliced veal for seitan. 


NIGHT OWL

       
Salon photo by Caroline Nilson.        

Where to Stay: 25hours Hotel Zürich West
In nightlife-heavy Zürich West, this boutique hotel’s 126 rooms boast the city’s most colorful interiors thanks to local designer Alfredo Häberli’s liberal use of patterned carpets, neon lights and mix-and-match décor. 

Dinner: Salon
At this months-old Kreis 3 hangout, fill up on French staples such as the hearty grilled entrecôte or order a cup of espresso at the ’60s-esque bar with neighborhood PYTs. 

Night: Schiffbau
Discover the poster child for Zürich West’s transformation: The Schiffbau used to be a massive factory that now packs in a trendy restaurant, a massive theater, a bar and music venue Moods.

Afterhours: Hive Club
Serious revelers end their nights at this Kreis 5 mecca, which still has lines as the sun is rising. It’s a major stop for global DJs such as Copenhagen’s Kasper Bjorke. 

Late Brunch: Cafe Lang
People-watch at this buzzy Limmatplatz coffeehouse while refueling your dance-weary body with flaky pastries, fluffy omelets, crispy bacon and potent but smooth espresso. 


SOPHISTICATE

       
The Dolder Grand photo by Peter Hebeisen.        

Where to Stay: The Dolder Grand
Perched on Adlisberg Hill in Kreis 7, this sprawling property had locals lining up to preview its four-year renovation in 2008. The fairy tale-looking turrets are still there, but new hardwood floors, angular leather chairs and outdoor rattan furniture give it a modern facelift. 

Morning: Shopping
The winding cobblestone streets of the Altstadt are home to some of the most fabulous boutiques in Zürich, including Mulberry and Trois Pommes.

Lunch: Clouds
This glamorous eatery on the 35th floor of Prime Tower is known for its panoramic views and ambitious plates of international dishes such as monkfish on fava bean-mint couscous. 

Evening: Opernhaus
On October 12, Ballet Zürich will premiere its take on Leo Tolstoy’s legendary novel Anna Karenina, with company director Christian Spuck at the helm plus music by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Witold Lutoslawski. 

Dinner: Restaurant Pavillon
Chef Laurent Eperon just won a Michelin star for his innovative menu: Think pan-fried wild sea bass and tender glazed veal knuckles. 


ARTS ENTHUSIAST

       
A room at the Widder Hotel.        

Where to Stay: Widder Hotel
No two rooms are alike in this five-star hotel in the Altstadt, where eight historic townhouses provide a staid façade compared to the full-wall frescoes and suspended catwalks inside. 

Morning: Museum Hop
Start with Kunsthalle Zürich in the new Löwenbräukunst art complex on Limmatstrasse. Next door is the even newer Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst from supermarket chain Migros.

Afternoon: Senior Design Factory
What started as a workshop/boutique featuring collaborations between local upstarts and senior artisans has transformed itself into a full-fledged design destination with a wide range of works for sale.

Dinner: Blindekuh
This Kreis 8 stalwart, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary, doesn’t just offer a weekly changing three-course menu of Swiss favorites—it also features live performances, all of which are experienced in total darkness. 

Postdinner: Grossmünster
At 11:30 p.m. on the second Sunday of every month, this iconic Romanesque church in the Altstadt offers paid guided tours (in German). Cap it off with a 187-step walk up Tower of Charlemagne and fabulous vistas of Zürich under the night sky.

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