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Hotel des Balances 4.0

Lucerne, Switzerland

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Historic upscale hotel in the heart of Old Town
  • Exceptional location right along the Reuss River
  • Elegant, minimalistic rooms with generously stocked minibars and flat-screen TVs
  • Suites feature whirlpools, and most have balconies with river views
  • Chic, popular restaurant and bar with alfresco riverfront terrace (seasonal)
  • 24-hour business center, and three meeting rooms on-site
  • Free welcome drink and ample breakfast buffet  for an extra fee
  • Breakfast room service, nightly turndown service, 24-hour front desk
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout
  • Pet-friendly

Cons

  • Air-conditioning in fifth-floor rooms only
  • No wellness facilities -- no gym, pool, or spa
  • Breakfast not necessarily included in room rate
  • Parking costs an extra fee

Bottom Line

The Hotel des Balances is one of the best-located upscale hotels in Lucerne. This 56-room property faces both the river and a charming cobblestone street in the heart of Old Town. The hotel has a chic restaurant and bar with seasonal riverfront terrace dining. Each guest is offered a free welcome drink, but the expansive breakfast buffet costs an extra fee. Rooms are chic and modern with generously stocked minibars, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. However, only fifth-floor rooms are air-conditioned. The hotel's other flaw? There are no wellness facilities -- no gym, pool, or spa. The upscale Art Deco Hotel Montana Luzern and the luxury Palace Luzern are other high-end options with spas, but they are farther from the city center. 

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Scene

Historic upscale hotel in the heart of Old Town

The historic Hotel des Balances first opened its doors as an inn in 1807, but the building dates back to the 13th century. What's more, the property has played host to famous guests like writer George Bernard Shaw, Princess Luise of Baden, and Queen Wilhelmine of Holland. The hotel's much-photographed facade features decorative paintings in the style of Swiss artist Hans Holbein. Consistently renovated and updated (a 2015 refurbishment updated all of the guest rooms' floors and wallpaper), the interior feels fresh and modern. A sophisticated lobby offers traditional decor, with parquet floors and squat brown leather armchairs gathered around marble-top tables. An oversized and elegant chandelier hangs from a ceiling, while a sleek electric fireplace lends a cozy yet modern feel. The walls and ceilings feature beautiful molded details accented in shining gold. The bar and restaurant are also standouts, with sophisticated modern decor, including a beautiful natural wood wine bar, leathery upholstered stools, and wood floors. The hotel's exceptional location in the heart of Old Town makes this a hotspot for a wide variety of travelers, while romantic suites make it a sweet-spot for couples, too.

Location

Exceptionally situated directly along the Reuss River in the heart of Old Town

The Hotel des Balances is exceptionally well-situated on a charming cobblestone street in the heart of Old Town with its back directly along the Reuss River. From the outdoor terrace along the river, guests can see the beautiful Jesuit Church directly across the river, or they can walk there in three minutes. Also visible across the water is the famous Kapellbrücke bridge (Chapel Bridge), a four-minute walk away. Restaurants, shops, and popular attractions are all in easy walking distance. The Sammlung Rosengart museum is a six-minute walk away, and the KKL—Lucerne Culture and Congress Center is a nine-minute walk. It's a 45-minute drive to Zurich Airport, and on-site parking is available but costs an extra fee.

Rooms

Elegant minimalism and modern amenities -- but not necessarily air-conditioning

Chic rooms pair classic elegance with minimalistic modernism for a simple and sophisticated look. Beautiful wood or parquet floors meet fresh white walls and bedding. Square-shaped, white leathery headboards create a modern foil for elegant gold-framed mirrors and marble desks. Each room has a sitting area with a table and chair, as well as a work desk. Flat-screen TVs are wall-mounted, and each room has a digital music player, safe, and free Wi-Fi. The minibars are generously stocked with drinks, and there are Nespresso coffeemakers in all rooms. Nightly turndown service delivers a dose of chocolate, too. Bathrooms are just as chic as rooms, but tend to be small, with wood floors, marble vanities with vessel sinks, and shower/tub combos (in most) or stall showers. Bathrooms include high-end L'Occitane toiletries. Upgraded rooms have added benefits. Most Suites feature balconies with outstanding river views. Romantic Suites are truly luxurious, each with a whirlpool tub atop an oval platform in the middle of the bedroom. While rooms have fans, only fifth-floor rooms are air-conditioned. With the windows opened, city-facing rooms may get some street noise.

Features

Chic, popular restaurant-bar and terrace on the river, plus free welcome drink, but no gym

Hotel des Balances has a chic and popular on-site restaurant and bar serving lunch, dinner, and small plates into the evening, and all guests receive a voucher for a free welcome drink. Alfresco dining is available seasonally on a riverside terrace, situated directly along the Reuss River with excellent views of local sights. The hotel offers full buffet and continental breakfast. These cost an extra fee, but guests are satisfied with the range and quality of choices, including cooked-to-order omelets, fresh-baked bread, and local items. Room service is also available for breakfast.

On the downside, unlike several of the high-end hotels in this area, the Hotel des Balances lacks wellness facilities -- there's no gym, pool, or spa. But apart from that, the hotel has many conveniences one would expect of an upscale hotel. The 24-hour front desk can arrange for free overnight shoe shines, dry cleaning and laundry service, and luggage storage. For guests traveling with children, the hotel offers babysitting services, cribs, and high-chairs. Small dogs are accepted for an extra fee. Parking is available, but it costs extra. There is a 24-hour business center, and the hotel has three meeting rooms available, the largest fitting up to 90 people. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property.

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Address

Am Weinmarkt, 6004 Luzern, Lucerne 6004, Switzerland