Hotel Palafitte, Neuchâtel
ABOVE: A panoramic view of a lake pavilion, showing the balcony (left) and the spacious interior. INSET BELOW: A sailboat on Lake Neuchâtel, and bathroom sinks with the dimmer turned down.
Rooms at the Hôtel Palafitte
In Palafitte lingo, there's no such thing as a mere "room" or "suite": Each of the 40 units is called a "pavilion," which is reasonable since the units are more like mini-townhouses or bungalows than conventional hotel rooms. The pavilions are identical in layout, with 68 m² or 732 square feet of space. Each unit has a balcony, a large sleeping space with a seating area and computer nook, a bathroom with double sink and Jacuzzi, and a separate toilet room near the entrance. Storage consists of generous built-in closets along the hallway that leads from the entrance to the sleeping area.
To one side of the bed is a desk with a cellular phone for use on the premises; on the opposite wall is a niche with a personal computer with printer, a minibar, and a Nespresso coffee machine. Internet access and coffee are included in the room rate, at least when everything is working: My pavilion's computer was dead, and the staff hadn't managed to find a replacement. (I never did find the promised "SIMpad" that controlled lights and other room devices, but the controls on the walls were perfectly adequate.)
The couch in the seating area faces a large-screen plasma TV and Bose surround-sound speakers. A handful of CDs and DVDs are nearby, and the room safe contains adult DVDs (at least in theory; my safe was empty, depriving me of the chance to watch Heidi Does Heidelberg or Derrière la Porte Verte).
The bathroom is luxurious, if lacking in privacy: The transparent glass-walled shower stall overlooks the desk and the sleeping area, which might be off-putting to a shy Bridget Jones at the start of a dirty weekend with a new partner. Pluses include the stylish double sinks in a wooden countertop (see inset photo), the separate whirlpool tub, and the Bulgari soaps and amenities. Oddly enough, the separate toilet room is more functional than luxurious, and the floor-to-ceiling window of frosted glass faces the adjacent walkway. (If you're extremely modest, you can always leave the light off when you use the WC at night.)
In my opinion, the pavilion's best feature is the balcony, which--in the lakeside units--feels like a balcony on a cruise ship. A ladder makes it easy to climb down into the lake for a swim.
Motorized louvres or shutters cover the floor-to-ceiling windows and the glass doors to the balcony. One narrow shutter is strategically placed to hide views of the shower stall from the lake, so you can strike a September Morn pose for your roommate without being ogled by a yachtsman with binoculars. By fiddling with the shutter controls, you can leave tiny gaps between the louvres for fresh air at night or during a nap.
Restaurant and bar
The Palafitte has a bar and restaurant, with prices that are in line with the hotel's five-star rating. (I didn't have a chance to try the restaurant except for the breakfast buffet, which was about what you'd expect at a four- or five-star hotel in Switzerland.) From May to September, you can enjoy drinks and food outdoors.
Location and Web site
The Hôtel Palafitte is in Neuchâtel-Monruz, about 800 meters from the center of Neuchâtel. For more information, including current rates and special offers, visit the hotel's Web site at www.palafitte.ch. And for more captioned pictures, go to page 3 of this article.
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