High up on a hillside overlooking the waters of a vast silvery blue lake...Montana. Serenity and sweeping views yet minutes away from a bustling historic village...Montana…Hotel Montana, that is, in Lucerne, Switzerland. Embodying art deco magnificence with no expense spared, this grand dame is one of the last of its kind, built in 1910 on a former dairy farm perched in resplendent isolation yet no more than a minute vertical ride via Switzerland’s shortest funicular to the lake shore promenade.
Hotel Montana’s solid construction and palatial classical style directly resulted from pre-World War I opulence. Art deco style most notably influences many aspects of the hotel's interior from the grand lobby’s towering marble pillars and sweeping arches which extend into the Scala Restaurant dining area, a wide central staircase connecting floors, down to even the key ring ornament for each room.
Rebirth as a 4-Star Hotel
Post war doldrums and its use as a hospitality school for years took its toll on the Hotel Montana’s original luster. Although fundamentals like
timeless materials and key architectural highlights remained intact, the interior needed upgrades to exceed the expectations of today's discerning guests. A decades long restoration began in 1975 with star architect, Pia Maria Schmid who harmonized the hotel’s original grandeur with luxury upgrades like Jacuzzi suites, Scala Restaurant’s state-of-the-art kitchen, and art deco furnishings in every room. The façade was completely restored in 2000 just in time for Hotel Montana’s 90th anniversary.
Chef Johan Breedijk and 130 Whiskeys
Dining at onsite Scala Restaurant, particularly out on the terrace elevates the experience both literally and aesthetically into the clouds with a mesmerizing view of Lake Luzern. Scala’s Chef Johan Breedijk, a rising Swiss culinary star, works his magic on a menu inspired by the flavors of southern Switzerland, Italy, France and Greece. Dishes showcasing a blend of market-fresh seasonal ingredients, delicate spices, and carefully selected fresh herbs have
won the restaurant 15 Gault Millau points (similar to Michelin ratings).
Entering The Louis Bar and the adjacent Whiskey Lounge next door off the lobby has you pinching yourself just to make sure you aren’t really in an upscale neighborhood jazz bar in Chicago. Live piano and jazz, funk, and soul jam sessions keep the house rockin' every Tuesday through Saturday evening. General Manager Fritz Erni's passion of fine whiskeys is readily apparent in their signature classic Scottish single malt whiskey menu listing a whopping 130 different varieties. Several samples reveal flavors ranging from peaty to pungent smoky reflecting Scotland's 4 distinct whiskey regions of Campbeltown, Islay, Speyside, and the Lowlands & Highlands.
Photos Courtesy of Steve Mirsky. Coverage made possible by participating in a partially sponsored trip.