Last Updated on December 27, 2023
Montreux is an absolute gem of a small city at the northeastern edge of Lake Geneva, Switzerland—Lac Leman to the locals. Its moniker as “The Pearl of the Swiss Riviera” is well-deserved.
During spring, summer and fall, it’s as lush as can be, filled with a mix of deciduous and sub-tropical foliage. Flowers bloom everywhere. It’s a delicious place to visit, even during high season – it’s nowhere near as touristy as cities like Amsterdam or Paris. Except, of course, during the first two weeks of July each year when the famed Montreux Jazz Festival reigns supreme.
One of the town’s most wonderful spots for locals and visitors alike is its more than 7-kilometer lakeside promenade stretching from Montreux all the way over to the city of Vevey. Charlie Chaplin spent his last 27 years there. The walkway is beautifully maintained and planted with fresh flowers and shrubs each spring.
The Golf Hotel René Capt sits above the promenade, its rear gardens opening to Lake Geneva. This Belle Epoque 4-star hotel is a hidden gem at the farther northeast end of Montreux. It has 75 renovated rooms and boasts one of the top restaurants in town. There, you can eat in the elegant downstairs dining room or out on the picturesque roof deck.
Walking in from the street, I broke into a smile, finding that the lobby was just as striking as I remembered it. Chairs in creamy leather accented by deep scarlet stuffed pillows filled the gold-carpeted room. The roof deck doors were wide open. It was a bright, sunny day, and the lake’s crystalline waters sparkled in through the trees.
The setting was luxe, but not pretentious. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have returned.
Golf Hotel in Montreux
Imagine waking up to a glittering blue alpine lake, a skyline dotted with Washington Palms, sailboats at rest, and the magnificent Alps. Most rooms at the Golf Hotel have at least partial lake views, and mine was a queen with a small lakeside balcony adorned with a small table and chairs.
The charming space with French doors boasted floor-to-ceiling windows and red fleur de lis carpeting. The bed was exceedingly comfortable, and a fluffy comforter, pillows, and niceties like a plush robe, towel warmer, and mini-bar were much appreciated.
The Golf Hotel René Capt offers various room types and prices throughout the year from economy with a city view to a superior triple with a lake view.
Dine In Style at the Golf Hotel
Europeans know how to put on a breakfast buffet, and the Golf Hotel’s is divine! Pastries, breads, cheeses, jams, sliced meats, lox, eggs, bacon, sausages, cereals, fruit, yogurt and more.
My advice? Skip lunch and enjoy the buffet before an active day of discovery.
Dinner downstairs in the formal dining room is elegant, with its high ceilings, brocade draperies, and sweeping windows. Try dining outdoors on the roof deck
Overlooking the picturesque lake, the deck provides panoramic views of the Alps and the promenade below, making for excellent people-watching. Sitting down, I lingered over my meal and took in the sunset. The charcuterie board was lovely, and I ordered the spicy grilled prawns for my main dish.
A Swiss Syrah paired handsomely with the meal- a sustainably farmed wine from Claudy & Shadia Clavien in Valais.
Montreux Gardens and Promenade
The green gardens at the back of the hotel are worth a day of enjoyment in themselves. Relax under the cabanas or sit back in one of the wooden Adirondack chairs dotting the grounds. A rose garden pathway leads down to the promenade.
Montreux’s lakeside promenade, a wide, tree-lined pathway, is a true treasure. Little benches are set along the water’s edge where you can sit and gaze at stunning views of the jagged Alps.
The Swiss are fond of their dogs, and you’ll see people out with their furry friends at all times of the day. It’s a gorgeous walk and an ideal way to get your steps in.
Exploring the Swiss Riviera
Montreux and the surrounding area are fabulous locales to explore. The hotel gives guests a Montreux Riviera Pass highlighting free local transport between Montreux and Vevey and 50 percent off the price of many area attractions.
Funky Claude’s Bar is a must-visit for jazz enthusiasts. The bar is filled with pictures of the world’s most famous jazz and rock acts and festival memorabilia. It’s as sweet as can be to sip a Bombay Sapphire martini here inside the famed Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, home to some of the top shows over the years during the Montreux Jazz Fest.
The Montreux Jazz Café next door, established by Festival Founder Claude Nobs, is gorgeous and offers elegant fine dining.
Fans of the rock group Queen will swoon over the Freddie Mercury Statue that graces the promenade and QUEEN The Studio Experience, an unequaled shrine to the group. It’s free of charge and located in the original Mountain Studios at the Montreux Casino.
Cruises, Castles and Vines
What a great feeling to cruise across Lake Geneva on crystal waters with the CGN Belle Epoque fleet of steam paddle boats. Sitting upstairs in first class is worth splurging for with its period-correct light fixtures and wicker furniture. It’s one of the best things to do during pleasant weather days. I sampled a charcuterie board and a local beer that paired nicely with the cheese and salami.
The 1,000-year-old Chateau de Chillon, or Chillon Castle, is a medieval fortress that historically lies on the strategic trade and pilgrimage route between Rome and the rest of Europe, the ancient Via Francigena.
Francois Bonivard was infamously imprisoned here by the Savoys, becoming the inspiration for Lord Byron’s poem, The Prisoner of Chillon. It’s an interesting window into past centuries, and the Montreux Riviera Pass offers guests 50 percent off the entrance fee.
Lastly, wine lovers will appreciate the terraced, 12th-century Lavaux Vineyards. This UNESCO-protected World Cultural Heritage site is one of the Swiss Riviera’s best attractions.
A terrific way to enjoy the vineyards is to hike for an afternoon, stopping at some of the many cellars (caves à vin) along the trails. Another option is to hop on the Lavaux Express, a panoramic tourist train, for an unforgettable journey among the vines.
Whether hiking or riding the train, be sure to turn around and look back at the lake for an incredibly stunning vista, including Mont Blanc, the Alps’ highest mountain and the tallest peak in all of Western Europe.