At the turn of the 19th century, Lake Lucerne had become one of the largest tourist attractions in Switzerland, with over a hundred hotels lining the lake shore. In 1903, eccentric Swiss hotelier Franz Josef Bucher purchased a 3285 square metre plot of land on the north shore of Lake Lucerne, to build an extravagant palace hotel that would be substantially larger than the city's existing grand hotels.
Our brief was to prepare the hotel for another century of service, to reopen as Mandarin Oriental's latest luxury European hotel. Sensitively reimagining the vision of Franz Josef Bucher, we remixed the faded Art Deco grandeur of the original interiors with fresh bold ideas, featuring four distinctively designed restaurants and bars, 136 unique guestrooms, and a new spa hand-carved from Tuscan stone.
Following the principle that the most sustainable building is the one that already exists, the restoration of the historic hotel avoids unnecessary waste and preserves the landmark for a new generation. We rebalanced the old with the new, preserving heritage features but steering away from pastiche. Decorative features have been faithfully restored, including scagliola columns, chequerboard marble flooring and stucco-adorned walls. Our approach to the interior design is one of anti-perfectionism – embracing natural, timeless materials for their longevity and patina they will develop over time - minimising the waste that comes with frequent renovation.
The hotel’s original colour palette, inspired by Bucher’s travels across the Mediterranean, has emerged from beneath layers of past alterations. Earthy terracottas, rich greens and chalk whites are incorporated into the newly renovated interiors, as palm and lily motifs nod to the stylised botanicals of the Art Deco era. The result is a harmonious atmosphere of understated opulence, where guests are invited to unwind against the backdrop of Lake Lucerne’s shimmering waters and the snow-capped peaks beyond.