Tell us, what are you thinking about when we say “Zurich”? Either you might say “business” or just “one of the large cities in Switzerland”. Surprise, surprise: it is a vibrant city for hipsters and hippies, trendsetters and creatives, for lovers of design and vintage, and ok we agree, for people with a little money too.
We decided to spend the last days of 2016 in Switzerland, starting with a two-night break in Zurich. Normally that’s the kind of things one writes at the end, as a conclusion. But here it is: Zurich, we love you, and we will be back!
Let’s have a look at things we really loved.
1. The 25hours hotel Zurich West, “because 24 hours is not enough.”
Both Véronique and I love the 25hours hotels brand. We stayed several times in the two hotels in Hamburg, and we visited the 25hours Bikini hotel in Berlin.
By virtue of their design these hotels are hip and fun. The style of the interiors and the many design winks make you smile throughout your stay.
When we need a hotel in a German-speaking city we look first if there is a 25hours. There is one in Zurich, and we understood that a second is under construction.
Read here about our 25hour experience in HAMBURG HAFENCITY and HAMBURG NUMBER ONE.
Photo: Stephan Lemke for 25hours hotels
Photo: Stephan Lemke for 25hours hotels
Our room. Photo: Stephan Lemke for 25hours hotels
Sauna. Photo: Stephan Lemke for 25hours hotels
25h guests can always use the trendy Freitag bag which is hanging in each room. I love this brand. Actually, the brother Markus and Daniel Freitag, who came up with the idea, are from Zurich. As graphic designers they developed back in 1993 a messenger bag from used truck tarpaulins, discarded bicycle inner tubes and car seat belts.
Freitag’s flagship store is in Zurich, and that was almost like a must-do pelgrimage.
On our way to the Freitag store.. with a Freitag bag from the 25h hotel.
2. The Freitag flagship store
Even the shop is made from recycled material. The architects from Spillman Echsle created a special construction with 17 containers of different colours, 25 meters high. They were stacked and mounted by applying the same fastener elements as used in the shipping industry. The tower is located in a former industrial area, which is surrounded by concrete bridges and railway tracks which seem to come from everywhere.
It’s worth going up all the way, not only to see all these beautiful bags, but also to reach the observation platform. We could imagine the amazing view on a crisp clear day.
The panoramic view on top of the Freitag tower.
3. Hardbrücke and Bogen 33
The area around the Freitag tower and the Hardbrücke (a large concrete bridge) is full of surprises. It is one of these areas where two, three decades ago nobody ever could have imagined that it would become such a trendy place.
We discovered some lovely trashy places for food, drinks, music and friends, a bit as our “DOK” in Ghent or as “Strand Pauli” in Hamburg.
I could have spent hours in the vintage furniture shop Bogen 33, which you cannot miss, because of the wooden sailing yacht at the foot of the green-glassed modern building. The skyscraper forms a huge contrast with the old industrial area.
There are bookshops and other trendy shops too.
4. SBB CFF, everywhere
SBB CFF stands for Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (SBB), Chemins de fer fédéraux suisses (CFF). In short: the famous Swiss national railway company, which works as a Swiss clockwork. Clean, efficient and on time.
It is surprising to see how much the train forms a part of the urban landscape. It is as if in Zurich trains are everywhere.
5. Under the train rails: Viadukt
The railway line Oerlikon – Zurich Hauptbahnhof runs like a wire through the western part of the city. When the city’s industrial area changed into a living area, a viaduct was built to avoid having trains blocking the traffic continuously. More than a century later, the arches of the viaduct were transformed and “filled” with shops and restaurants. Important to know is the decision to limit the tenants to those who were compatible with the district, and rooted within the area. Local, not global.
We loved Markt, with its several food outlets, like a British cheese shop (in Switzerland!) and freshly-made sushi, by the two Japanese ladies from Tokyo Tapas. The many shops are full of creativity and good ideas. Too late for Christmas presents (Christmas was a few days before). If we would have known…
Why not have a drink in the yurt of Restaurant Viadukt?
A promenade has been created on the former track on the lower part of the viaduct.
6. Museum für Gestaltung
Because of a serious refurbishment, the Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich’s design museum, is closed until 2018. A temporary museum opened its doors within a two-minute walk of the 25hours hotel, in the Toni-Areal building.
As soon as we entered the exhibition about models I got very excited. We’re not talking about mannequins but about scale models. There were wagon mockups, crane prototypes, architectural models, furniture, 3D printing machines, art installations etc…
Of course the train was present too, with several beautiful miniature models of Swiss trains such as the famous “Krokodil”.
We loved the interactive table where visitors could build a Lego-model, with white blocks in a dark room.
Museum für Gestaltung
7. Efficient, simple and clean
Last but not least, Zurich is fantastic because everything has such a high degree of efficiency and simplicity. Take for example the public transport. And the cleanliness of Switzerland is simply legendary.
We cannot wait to be back in this great city. We did see the lake, and the area around the central station, and the shopping center etc. But it was a bit of an awkward moment to visit, just in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Our dream is to come back in late summer. Actually we already found a place where we will certainly go: Moudi Bar and Restaurant, a hip place for food with deejays or live music.
Here’s the official website of Zürich.
Photos: Mike & Véronique