Hôtel Palafitte is the only hotel built on stilts in Europe and I was very curious to see it since the first time I saw pictures of the property. I chose Palafitte for my first trip since I moved to Switzerland as me and my husband were in need of serious relaxation. I couldn’t be happier with my choice and I will tell you everything you have to know to enjoy this paradise. Enjoy the ride!
This was another fantastic trip I made with Preferred Hotels & Resorts and you can book your dream room at this Five Star Lake Hotel here to enjoy upgrades, early check-in and late check-out as well as exclusive member rates and points for free nights (upon availability).
Hôtel Palafitte was on my radar since the first time I heard about it. It is a hotel that could easily be in the Maldives (where it is very common to have hotels on stilts) but it is actually in the middle of Europe, in Switzerland.
Besides all the technology (powered by Siemens) and the amazing architecture, the hotel connects to its location by history. I explain: farmers in Neuchâtel used to live in houses on the water more than 500 years ago in the exact same place. Their concept was reinvented and recreated with attention to design and very elegant luxury.
There are Lake Pavilions (direct on the water) and Lakeshore Pavilions, 2 restaurants and 1 bar. The futuristic project is WOW. I love each and every detail of the hotel and I love how austere and warm it can be at the same time. Very impressive.
Palafitte was built for the Expo 2002 as Neuchâtel was one of the 4 locations of the Swiss National exhibition. This makes it easier to understand why it is such a piece of art.
Couldn’t be more impressive: right on the Lake Neuchâtel, on the water or on its shores, at the foot of the Jura mountains. A few minutes from Neuchâtel downtown – accessible by car, bike (available in the hotel free of charge) or by bus (complimentary tickets provided).
The destination is known as Jura & Three Lakes and attracts visitors by the diversity of its landscapes, its untouched and unspoiled nature but also by its rich historical and architectural heritage.
There are many points of interest in Neuchâtel and the city is very cute and pretty, placed in the French speaking part of Switzerland, which “per se” makes it very special and nice to explore.
There are 24 very spacious Lake Pavilions built on stilts and we stayed in one of those. They consist of an individual bedroom, a bathroom with movable partitions that allow a view onto the lake from the bath tub, a separate toilet, an office corner (I wish I could always work with that view) and a large terrace with only the neighbouring Alps to block the horizon. The lake is directly accessible through a small ladder from the private terrace, where there are lounge beds and a table where we had fondue twice. 🙂
The other option are 14 Lakeshore Pavilions, which are also pretty close to the lake, only a few steps. Decoration and amenities are not very different and I am sure it might be a great stay.
Nevertheless, once you visit such an amazing hotel, make sure you book the whole package and guarantee your space over the water. It makes a difference – I just loved to sleep or work, or eat or whatever listening to the sound of water, and to wake up with the view of a never-ending blue lake right under my feet.
It was one of the few hotels that we did not turn music on because listening to the lake was just too good. Haha! Moreover, the architects made an amazing work and used a lot of glass in the rooms – this means you can see the lake full time and really feel you are connected to nature and the lake.
None of the suites is far from the main areas in the hotel. No worries. Everything can be reached within 1 minute.
Amenities are L’Occitane and replaced twice a day. Yay!
– La Table de Palafitte
Impressive French cuisine prepared in time-honoured tradition. Unmissable and for sure one of the best restaurants in Neuchâtel, recommended by Michelin and Gault Millau inspectors.
Tasty food, beautiful setting, sympathetic and attentive service. We had dinner at this restaurant every single day of our stay because we simply got addicted. It is possible to order à la carte or a tasting menu, which can be harmonised with wine with the assistance of the sommelier.
Everything we ordered was delicious and perfectly executed. I deeply recommend the Mille Saveurs menu + the selection of three wines of Neuchâtel (it is harmonised depending on your taste and choice of food). See the menu here and the wine menu here.
One night I ordered à la carte and had one of the best tournedos of my life. And I am not easy to satisfy with meat as I like it super well done and still tender. Hahaha! Well, they made it exactly how I like it and I was also in love with the plating. Beautiful!
The interior is wonderful – a combination of modern and rustic with a breathtaking view to the lake. Reserve a table close to the window.
Breakfast is served in this restaurant and it is buffet style, very complete: natural fresh juices, fruits, a great selection of cheeses and charcuterie, as well as lots of bread, spreads, eggs, cereals including Bircher müesli, etc. Very delicious.
There is a brunch to die for until late in the afternoon on Sundays.
Get a table at the terrace (with a lake view) if the weather is nice. And make sure you reserve because the restaurant is usually very busy. It seems to be a very popular place among locals and visitors alike. Reserve a table at La Table de Palafitte here.
– The Terrace on the Waterfront
Privileged place, very close to the lake and with a fantastic view of the suites on stilts and the alps. Recommended for small snacks and drinks from May until September. As we went in October, we didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy it but well, I now have an amazing excuse to return.
– Le Bar
Right in the centre of the hotel, Le Bar is a great place to enjoy some wine, cocktails and snacks at the counter or enjoying one of the comfy lounge chairs. This is where we would end our nights with a glass of wine after dinner and we had such an amazing time, specially tasting different wines from the region.
– The Smoking Room
The place to be for cigars lovers. Great view of the lake.
* Fondue can be ordered in the room for dinner or lunch (not in the restaurants) and I certainly recommend it. It was one of the coolest experiences during our trip to enjoy a typical Swiss cheese fondue at our balcony while listening to the “sea”. Unforgettable! Make sure you do it!
Honestly? No activities are really needed at this place. Just the fact that we are so close to the water, to the nature and in such a peaceful environment is already an activity, right?! Haha!
Still, there are many things to do in and around the hotel, including:
– Kayaking (we did it in October!!!!!! Free of charge)
– Fishing (utensils available and free of charge)
– Swimming in the lake
– Motor boat trip
– Water skiing
– Stand Up Paddle (free of charge)
– Biking (free of charge)
– Exploring Neuchâtel (guests enjoy free public transport) – watch specialty shops, castles, etc.
– Wine tasting (the concierge can organize it in the hotel or in wineries)
– Hiking at Creuz du Vin
– Beautiful Berne, the Swiss capital, is only a 20 minutes drive away
Both me and my husband were so sad to leave
that we were trying to find a way to stay forever. The stay was way above my high expectations, so so relaxing and romantic.
Being that close to the lake was special and views, specially at sunrise and sunsets, surreal. My favourite place in the hotel was my own terrace, where I would sit and watch the alps, the water and the sky for hours. There were always ducks and birds right in front of our room (the birds would even get super close) as well as some people sailing or doing water sports – I loved watching it.
The feeling in the hotel is relaxed yet very exclusive as it is a small hotel. The privacy is unbeatable. Most of the guests were couples but we also saw some small families with children and babies.
The staff is one of a kind – really well trained and always ready to help satisfying every need you might have. They were also very patient to help us with our French mistakes, to explain the region and to explain the typical dishes from the area.
We had plans to visit a lot of places around the city of Neuchâtel, specially watch shops and guess what? We decided to leave it for the next visit because the atmosphere was so nice and relaxing… We left with our batteries totally recharged.
WHEN TO GO
All year long as the stunning view and the fantastic service will always be there. Nevertheless, it is probably ideal to visit during summer, when the temperature of the water is around 23° and it is possible to swim “at home” all day long.
We went in October and it was great. We did not swimm but we went kayaking without any problem. It was actually a lot of fun!
HOW TO GET THERE
– Arriving by car
A5 Motorway Geneva-Lausanne-Yverdon-Neuchâtel, exit no.14 Neuchâtel-Monruz.
A1 Motorway Zurich-Bern-Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel-Maladière exit, then head for Neuchâtel-Monruz.
GPS : 47°00’16”N / 6°57’52.89”E
The property is approximately a 1 hour and 40 minutes drive from the Zurich airport and 1 hour from Geneva airport.
Parking space is available for guests, free of charge.
– Arriving by train
From Basel: 1hr 30 minutes
From Bern: 30 minutes
From Geneva: 1hr 15 minutes
From Lausanne: 45 minutes
From Zurich: 1hr 30minutes
From Paris: 4hrs 5 minutes
– Arriving by air
Intercontinental air connections
Basle-Mulhouse airport: 1hr 30 minutes
Bern-Belp airport: 1hr
Geneva-Cointrin airport: 1hr 20 minutes
Zurich-Kloten airport: 1hr 40 minutes
– Direct air connections
Aerodrome La Chaux-de-Fonds / Les Eplatures
Aerodrome Neuchâtel / Colombier
I hope you enjoyed the read! I must admit that I am already seriously planning my next visit as it was one of the coolest hotels I have ever stayed in Europe. See more here.
Enjoy the ride with me at @marineira on Instagram.