Arrival/Check-in: We arrived in Lugano by train direct from Zürich Airport and hadn’t even emerged from the station when we saw the smartly uniformed driver holding a brass-framed sign with our names. Our luggage was whisked into the van; and we headed downhill to the lakeshore, where the doorman welcomed us and escorted us to the desk in the wide, gleaming marble lobby. We were again welcomed, checked in immediately (although it was barely noon) and provided with maps and information about Lugano. The receptionist gave us a brief tour of the first floor, where a few other guests sat in the elegant but comfortable sitting areas overlooking the lake; it was all most genteel, without a hint of old grand hotel dowdiness. We were escorted to our room, and less than 15 minutes after stepping off the train we were standing on our balcony, soaking in one of Europe’s loveliest views. (30/30)
Guest Quarters: Our room was as splendid as the view. The king-sized bed had excellent reading lights; and there were two comfortable armchairs, a large desk and a bureau with an LCD TV. The décor was luxuriously elegant: Padded gold damask walls above limed-birch wainscoting were edged with twisted satin cord; and the floor was covered in a green, Persian-design carpet. The large closet was equipped to address two of our pet peeves, providing two luggage racks and ample free-hanging wooden and satin-padded hangers. Our balcony overlooking the lake and mountains was furnished with two large, cushioned chairs and a table (the hotel offers 24-hour room service). The large marble bathroom had a wide vanity with two sinks, a lighted make-up mirror and two sets of Etro amenities, including bath salts. An extra set was on a shelf over the long bathtub, and towels hung on heated racks. Two thick terry robes hung on the door. When we returned after dinner in the evening, each sink and the tub had a bathmat on the marble floor in front of them. White linen mats were beside each bed, and trays on each nightstand held mineral water and glasses. (30/30)
Services/Amenities: The hotel’s restaurant, La Veranda, has the high-ceilinged, white-linen grace expected in a grand hotel where heads of state stay, but the service is gracious and accommodating. Lugano is in the Italian-speaking Swiss Ticino, and our waiter, who spoke flawless English, quickly understood that we preferred to practice our rusty Italian; he spoke slowly and translated from the Italian only when we were clearly puzzled. He was not in the least concerned that this took a bit longer. The daily multicourse menu was priced quite reasonably. Breakfast was a memorable occasion, a buffet that included delectable fresh-baked pastries and breads, smoked salmon, local artisanal cheeses, hot entrées and a variety of fresh fruits and berries. It was one of the finest breakfasts we have ever been offered in a hotel. A piano bar has live music in the evening, and afternoon tea is served in the sitting room overlooking the lake. The small business center offers free Internet; all rooms have free LAN Internet access. (38/40)
The Experience: Location doesn’t get any better, and the staff is exceptional. One simple example: On the second morning of our stay, our waiter didn’t offer me coffee, instead inquiring if I would like Darjeeling tea again or a different variety. That sort of attention to little details makes it clear how the Splendide Royal earned its five stars.
Total Score: 98/100
Hotel Splendide Royal Lugano
Riva Antonio Caccia 7
6900 Lugano, Switzerland
tel 41 91 985 77 11
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