Could the B2 Hotel + Spa be Zurich's most unique property?
This jewel on top of the hill boasts rich history and a wealth of surprises up its sleeve
Zurich may be known for its banks and finance firms but there’s much more to the well-polished city than office buildings. Down by the lake there’s a flurry of modern designer shops and stylish restaurants, while the historic Old Town offers an insightful glimpse of the city’s surprisingly rich past. And while it could be tempting to stay waterside, heading slightly off the beaten track unveils one of the city’s most charming properties, the former Hürlimann brewery – now the B2 Boutique Hotel + Spa. Dashing Zurich’s corporate image, this place has character, charm, and, from its rooftop spa, some serious views.
Housed in the former factory of what was Switzerland’s largest brewery until its closure in 1996, the hotel retains much of the original building’s industrial character. The brewery’s tower stands tall, casting a grand shadow over the valley, while architects have remained true to the site’s roots, preserving authentic structures where possible. Likewise, designers have given a nod to the brewery throughout the interiors, from photographs of the renovation to chandeliers made from Hürlimann beer bottles – if you wish to sample the real thing, simply open the fridge. Each day, guests are gifted complimentary Hürlimann beer – a nice touch that’s a prime example of the hotel’s excellent hospitality.
The hotel contains 51 unique rooms across several tiers – the best are the two- storey Hürlimann Suites, located in the former brewery coolships. As the coolships are protected structures, architects have constructed a building within a building in order to preserve the exterior – a fascinating sight for architecture enthusiasts.
The level below is the Hürlimann Executive Rooms, where we stayed. Our generously-sized room featured a modern open plan design and panoramic views over the city and neighbouring chateaux – once the Hürlimann family residence. A tour of the hotel reveals a number of characterful spaces, such as the Wine Library, a stunning lounge lined with bookshelves containing 33,000 books rescued by the hotel owner from a German library that closed down. It’s here that a European buffet breakfast is served each morning. The venue also doubles as a lounge and bar where wine and cheese evenings are hosted.
Another highlight is the Machine Hall, a protected space with original floors and brewery machines, which is now mostly used as an events space. Next door, in the former pump room, modernity meets history in one of the world’s most unique gyms – “you can pump iron in the pumping room” says our guide with a laugh. There’s also a stunning conference space that wouldn’t look out of place in a Bond movie. Aptly nicknamed the ‘007 room’, it features high-tech control systems and an incredible sculptural tunnel that funnels
natural light into the room.
And while the hotel has all the amenities to suit business travellers, it’s far from corporate. In fact, it’s home to one of the most relaxing spaces in the city – Zurich’s only rooftop thermal spa. Water is supplied by natural thermal springs which run from the nearby mountains and were originally intended for use in the brewing process. While not suitable for beer, the springs now power the spa’s series of bubbling baths, set beneath historic arches and on the rooftop. With hot water, a cool breeze and stunning views over the city and Lake Zurich, an alfresco swim in the rooftop pool is an enlightening experience for the mind, body and soul.