Hotel Le Palace in the Swiss town of Gstaad is a mythical place that has been standing firmly on the Saanenland’s peaks for a hundred years. Bill Buckley, the famous American journalist and commentator, used to stay here, as well as actors David Niven and Roger Moore, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, many crowned heads... Elegance, stylishness and respect were always present in this hotel... But, when Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton appeared, many journalists and paparazzi started to orbit around the hotel, and they were followed by “nouveau riche”.
The most expensive, the most prestigious boarding school in the world, "Le Rosey", opened in 1880 in the small Swiss mountain town of Gstaad, is the main responsible for the fame of Hotel Le Palace. Namely, when the hotel was built in 1911, parents who used to come to visit their children got the exclusive place to stay and the chance to meet each other, as well. Thus, many millionaires, heads of state, ambassadors, businessmen etc. had made friends and started businesses in the romantic surroundings of this mountain village. Since then, there has been a saying that if you have never been in the lobby of Hotel Le Palace – it’s like you have never been to Gstaad!
Here is how Taki Theodoracopulos, a long-term village resident, journalist, playboy, writer, expert in judo, talks about the hotel’s life:
- Bill Buckley, the famous American journalist and commentator, used to stay here, as well as actors David Niven and Roger Moore, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, many crowned heads, famous composer Richard Wagner, actress and singer Julie Andrews. Elegance, stylishness and respect were always present in this hotel... But when Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton appeared, many journalists and paparazzi started to orbit around the hotel, and they were followed by “nouveau riche”. Today, Madonna stays at the hotel, but fortunately she doesn’t go out on the streets. True values of good behaviour and elegant dressing have been lost with them.
To back up his story, Taki revealed that one day, Andrea Scherz, the successor to this family business, saw the film producer Harvey Weinstein at the famous hotel restaurant "Le Grill". Weinsten had no tie and his t-shirt was sticking out underneath the unbuttoned shirt. Scherz immediately reacted and with no excuse asked Weinstein to retire to his chambers and to return to the restaurant dressed properly.
Today, many of the heirs of former visitors continue to spend winter or summer holidays at this fairytale-like place, and as history repeats itself, their children attend above mentioned elite school, as will probably their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Noblesse oblige! The Serbian Crown Prince Alexander II Karađorđević also attended the "Le Rosey" school. Even today, many of his school friends come to visit him in Belgrade.
By the way, everything started from Ernst and Silvia Scherz. Ernst was a scout, and in order to earn some pocket money he sang together with a group of boys in the village, with eyes fixed up on the fairytale-like building located above the village. That view stayed in his heart forever. Many years later, while he was working at Carlton Hotel in St. Moritz, he heard that Le Palace is looking for a hotel manager. He applied... The rest is history.
Over the decades, hotel Le Palace has undergone numerous changes, and the credit for the last one goes to Marina Nickels, interior designer. Suites at the highest, sixth floor have been renovated (room numbers end with the number 8), the combinations of colour have been changed, as well as materials and lighting... The rooms are mostly small (don’t forget the hotel’s age!), although some have been demolished and expanded. Some of the rooms are decorated in the Swiss rustic style, with visible beams, while others have been redecorated in a slightly modern style. The consistency in elegance and quality still remains: massive silk carpets, heavy curtains, leather sofas, tartan, chintz from India, soft beds … Presidential and two penthouse suites are located in the towers, and the waiting list can be up to two-years-long!
The fiercest place at the hotel is the "GreenGo" night club, the first one in Switzerland. Its interior resembles the seventies when it was founded. Casual style, like t-shirts and wind-jackets, is tolerated.
Andrea Scherz remembers one of the anecdotes that often happened in the hotel where the queen of Thailand, Robbie Williams, Prince Charles, Kofi Annan, Elton John, Sofia - the queen of Spain and many others used to stay.
- Paris Hilton came one day and introduced herself by saying: "Paris Hilton". I shook her hand and said: "Gstaad Palace!" Some people say that Elizabeth Taylor loved to sit in the hotel restaurant, because the locals sat at the same table, as well. That's how it used to be.
The hotel’s cool restaurant, "Fromagerie", in a literal translation – “a cheese shop”, and in formal – “the place where the "locals" come” - like Bernard Charles (Formula 1), George Soros, Roman Polanski who "feels a deep friendship with the Gstaad residents", late agent 007 Roger Moore who, after 15 years of staying in St. Moritz, has settled there (“because in 2007 the UN discovered traces of cocaine in St. Moritz’s wastewater!"). While visiting Elizabeth Taylor who was his friend (and who in 1962 bought the cottage "Ariel"), late pop music singer Michael Jackson wished to buy the cottage, and even the entire hotel. "I really like this castle", he said to its owner Scherz. In 1956, the famous violinist, Yehudi Menuhin, founded a music festival called "Les Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad". Over the years, guests had been entertained by jazz musician Louis Armstrong and singer Ella Fitzgerald… while the queen of Thailand sat in the audience…
There is never-ending fun at the hotel Le Palace!