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Bern's Bellevue Hotel to get facelift

The architects hope to preserve the Bellevue's belle époque ambience Keystone Archive

One of Bern's best-known landmarks, the prestigious Bellevue Palace Hotel, is set to close for a year of renovation work. Over the years, the hotel has become a significant political, social, and tourist institution.

This content was published on April 9, 2001 - 08:51

The five-star Bellevue Hotel was built in 1912 and is located in the centre of the Swiss capital next to the parliament building. With its grand entrance and elaborate, stained glass ceilings, the Bellevue is very much a throwback to the "belle époque".

Its strategic location next to parliament makes it an ideal place for politicians to stay in Bern. In fact, some 20 Swiss parliamentarians call the Bellevue home and most of Switzerland's deputies stay there whenever parliament is in session.

The Bellevue also belongs to the association of "Leading Hotels of the World". As one of only a couple of dozen such hotels in Switzerland, the Bellevue is also frequented by film stars, royalty and other visiting dignitaries.

The hotel's management has said, however, than in order to remain a member of the prestigious association, the Bellevue is in need of an urgent facelift.

Major refurbishment

In January 2002, the hotel will close its doors to overnight guests for an entire year, during which time the hotel will undergo major refurbishment. The Bern-based architecture firm, Jordi and Partner, has been selected to oversee the renovation while the Zurich-based architect, Pia Schmid, will be in charge of design.

Jürg Rauber, who is responsible for the construction work, told swissinfo that although the hotel's rooms, suites and conference areas will be modernised, the architects plan to retain its "grandiose and 'belle époque' atmosphere".

The renovation plans include the installation of individual air conditioning units in each room as well as state-of-the-art conference facilities. In addition, the number of suites at the Bellevue will be increased from eight to 20 while the number of regular rooms will be reduced from 130 to 124.

All of the rooms will be completely refurnished and redecorated.

In total, the renovation work will cost an estimated SFr 40 million. For the past six years, 99 per cent of the hotel has been owned by the federal government, while the remaining one percent is owned by 30 private, Swiss shareholders.

However, Rauber insisted that "not a single franc" of the refurbishment funds would come from Swiss taxpayers' money. He added that the hotel has already set aside about half of the necessary funds and plans raise the rest of the money through lending institutions.

As for the Bellevue's regular and live-in guests, Rauber said they would be able to stay at one of Bern's other high-class hotels, such as the Hotel Schweizerhof.

He added that they would still be able to enjoy a drink on the Bellevue's open-air terrace or have a meal in the hotel's winter grill, which will remain open while the renovation work is being done.

by Anna Nelson

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