As more Swiss watchmaking museums are planning to open to the public in the coming years, horological tourism seems destined to grow. There are already a few watch-centric hotels that have long served the industry’s great and good, from executives to V.I.P. clients. Here are three that might match any watch lover’s itinerary.
The Design Choice
Hôtel des Horlogers
Le Brassus, Switzerland
The Hôtel des Horlogers is nicknamed the “A.P. Hotel.” That is understandable as the business has been owned by Audemars Piguet since 2003 — and the new structure, which opened in June 2022, is adjacent to the brand’s factory and museum. (It also was designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group, the same architectural firm that created the brand’s museum in 2020.)
The first hotel on this site, called the Hôtel de France, opened in 1857, and since then it has served watchmaking professionals in the Vallée de Joux region, a horological hub that includes the headquarters of brands like Breguet, Blancpain and Jaeger-LeCoultre.
While the new 50-room hotel has stone and wood accents, it is not your typical Alpine structure. The building zigzags up a slope, giving rooms wide views of the valley. It is Minergie certified, a Swiss accreditation for energy efficiency and building quality; boasts eco-friendly features like water that is sourced and bottled in Le Brassus; and aspires to eliminate plastic (think biodegradable containers for single-use items, and wood pencils embedded with thyme seeds instead of the usual ballpoint pens). hoteldeshorlogers.com
The Center of the Action
This luxury hotel stands at the edge of Lake Neuchâtel, with guests lodged in 38 free-standing larch wood suites, half on stilts over the water and all offering panoramic views.
Former guests say the hotel feels a lot like a resort escape in the Maldives (there are even golf carts that carry you to your suite). Malaika Crawford, style editor at the watch platform Hodinkee, called it “my heaven” and jokingly directed someone to “scatter my ashes at Palafitte.”
But the operation does have bona fide watch cred: It is owned by the Sandoz Family Foundation, parent company of the Parmigiani Fleurier watch brand. And it stands in the region that is the beating heart of Swiss watchmaking, that is home to horological towns like La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle, jointly designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Nicholas Biebuyck, heritage director at TAG Heuer, said the hotel perfectly encapsulates the watch industry. “It’s private and intimate, but at the same time a little bit eccentric,” he said. “It shows that design and personality which makes the watch industry so interesting.”
The hotel was built as a temporary structure for Expo.02, a Swiss national exposition, but last year it celebrated 20 years in business. palafitte.ch
Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort
Anyone who wants to mix horological tourism with a bit of Hollywood glamour, culinary exploration, rest, relaxation and sport may want to check out this sprawling retreat 1,600 feet above Lake Lucerne, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.
The property comprises three luxury hotels; a 108,000-square-foot spa; health and medical facilities that include an accredited hospital; and 10 restaurants, lounges and bars. Among the more than 120 activities it suggests for guests are cheese making and golf.
The resort has long been a draw: In 1954, Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer were married in its chapel; Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti lived at the resort for many years; and royalty and heads of state, from Queen Ingrid of Denmark to President Jimmy Carter, have stayed there.
A scenic ride on a 134-year-old funicular takes guests down to the lake, where a boat ride will bring them to Lucerne and the flagship store of the watch retailer Bucherer, which opened in 1888 and now stocks more than 30 brands including Rolex, Cartier, Rado and Oris. burgenstockresort.com