Perfect for those with no taste for the tropics, or anyone who appreciates an inventive and inspiring hotel, Hôtel Palafitte is a South Pacific-style overwater bungalow hotel, located not in the Maldives but on the waters of Switzerland’s Lake Neuchâtel, at the foot of the Jura mountains, with a stunning view of the Alps across the lake. Completed just in time for the Swiss Expo.02, this is an utterly futuristic execution of a timeless concept. After all, farmers lived in houses on stilts above the waters of this very lake some five thousand years ago — but never quite like this.
Interiors are sleek and modern, with hardwood floors and contemporary furnishings, and the bathrooms look like showrooms, with bowl-shaped sinks on wooden countertops and glass-walled showers. All suites come with plasma-screen TVs, but the lake is the main attraction, whether viewed through glass plates in the floors or from the balcony, where a ladder swings down into the water. And you’d be hard pressed to find a more technologically advanced hotel — built by the German technology giant Siemens, Hôtel Palafitte is something of a high-tech showcase, with gigabit Ethernet throughout, and everything from the entertainment systems to the lighting and the window blinds controlled from the room’s tablet PC.
All the technology can be a bit disconcerting, as when you’re fingerprinted upon check-in — guest suite doors are unlocked using fingerprint scans rather than room keys — but it’s never intrusive or overwhelming. As always, the focus is on the environment, whether the masterful interior design or the magnificent surroundings. Even the slightly more modest on-land suites are worth seeing, and from May to September everyone has an up-close view of the lake from the restaurant’s terrace.