Hotel Eden Roc in Ascona is the best vacation hotel in Switzerland. Maybe it has to do with the sensational location on Lake Maggiore or the impeccable service. But, for us, perhaps the biggest draw of all were the interiors by star designer Carlo Rampazzi.
For several years now, Hotel Eden Roc in Ascona time and again wound up at number one in Karl Wild’s Ranking of the Best Swiss Vacation Hotels.
Still, until now, we never had that strong sense of we should visit the Eden Roc. It’s just a little too sedate for our taste, isn’t it?
That all changed in December 2017, when we stopped over at Hotel Valsana, which also belongs to the Tschuggen Hotel Group.
It’s there that we first took note of the work of architect Carlo Rampazzi, design professional for all of Tschuggen Hotel Group’s interior appointments.
At the time, Walter reacted to a frog-green sofa in our Valsana room as a visual provocation. Then he found out, Rampazzi is supposed to own a bright green leather jacket and a lime green Bentley on top of that. It was just too much for Walter’s nerves.
But, it made him want to find our more about Rampazzi, furniture and interior designer. Maybe it’s because Walter from time to time also gets a little «wild» in the head and goes for this or that crazy color. I kid you not: on one of our first dates he dared to wear pink pants!
So, here we go; we set out for Ticino, full of suspense to find out how wildly Rampazzi rampaged at the Hotel Eden Roc.
«Colorful» Hotel Eden Roc in Ascona
Frankly, as we drive up to the hotel, Walter and I exchange slightly puzzled looks. Would you say the place doesn’t look all that luxe from the back facade?
Still, the five-star hotel’s parking lot has luxury rides like Bentleys, Porsches, and Teslas scattered around it. Our fire-engine red mobility mini is probably the most attention-getting car around here…
At least the extremely kind concierge acts as if it were the most natural thing in the world that we roll up in a tiny VW Up. We are encouraged to act as if we’d driven up in Rolls Royce. Stiff of spine and with a slight curl to the upper lip we stride away. Appearances must be kept up, after all.
As we set foot in the hotel lobby, we snap out of it. First realization: the lobby is elegant, but very traditional. No edgy colors. Really, Rampazzi is supposed to have done his thing here?
While I’m pondering it, a simpatico Assistant Director Jochen Ebert welcomes us as we check in at the front desk. With evident pride, he leads the way through the establishment. My anxieties about Rampazzi having held back at the Eden Roc evaporate quickly enough…
Here and there, I glimpse the colorful and offbeat designs I was hoping for. Now I see clearly that the eccentric cult designer’s signature touch is everywhere.
Elegance and extravagance alternate with art and funky kitsch. They say that the exuberant Ticino native sees no clashes here. Well, it’s all right then…
Part of me is still irritated by the wild mix of materials and colors, and I ask myself who goes for that?!
On the other hand… we enter suites and rooms whose appointments now strike me as highly attractive. I’m torn this way and that, and am starting to feel something like ambivalence…
Rampazzi apparently has convinced himself that guests shouldn’t live in his hotels like they do at home. Anyway, they’re only exposed to the stimulating color orgy for a day or so. He may have a point there, actually…
But, enough ruminating about the sense or nonsense of color and pattern combinations. Assistant Director Ebert insists we must see the garden before it gets dark.
The garden of Eden Roc – pocket paradise with Mediterranean charm
It is well known that the Eden Roc’s rooms face directly on Lake Maggiore for those calming lake views, as the hotel is just a couple of minutes walk behind Ascona’s picturesque shore promenade.
A lush garden with Mediterranean charm, a private bathing beach, a panoramic boat dock and the house’s own yacht harbor surround the five-star establishment. Magical!
Here in the garden you will also find «La Casetta» (a small romantic lake cottage). It can be reserved, for private dinners, for example.
During the winter months, they serve local cheese varieties and meat specialties, freshly prepared polenta or gourmet risotto from the neighboring Terreni alla Maggia. Let it be understood that this is one of the world’s most northerly rice cultivation areas!
I try to picture in my mind’s eye a spring day when the flowers and magnolia trees are all abloom around the lake cottage and in the garden… it must be paradisical!
But even in winter, the view of the lake from the hotel has its charms.
Culinary delights with 46 Gault Millau points
The small but refined lake cottage also does duty as a fourth restaurant from May to September. It joins the hotel restaurant Eden Roc (15 Gault Millau points), gourmet restaurant La Brezza (17 Gault Millau points), and Ristorante Marina (14 Gault Millau points).
The Marina and its cuisine really appealed to us, so much so that we we will be devoting its own article to the restaurant, with more impressions of Rampazzi’s doings in that space. Prepare for spaghetti chairs!
Will miracles never cease… we actually bump into the one and only Carlo Rampazzi in the Marina Restaurant!
Truth be told: Walter’s jaw drops briefly on getting an eyeful of Carlo’s black-gold patterned pants and boots. But, he collects himself and we get into a good conversation with the color giant. When we’re done, he invites us then and there to his Ascona studio.
Mamma mia! Read our account of the visit to his «Selvaggio» (Italian for «wild») studio. Hold on to your armchair!
Our bottom line
We now completely get why the Hotel Eden Roc is profiled as the best vacation hotel: guests enjoy a wide selection that pulses with modern, colorful rooms and suites, and the hotel boasts a wellness area with spa and pool measuring 2,000 m2, not to speak of a sensational garden with direct lake access.
And, of course, let’s not forget the selection of four Lucullan restaurants!
For those of us who, in the midst of the traditional, still go for a vibrant color palette and slightly wild design, we fit in like multicolored birds of paradise here.
Our sincere thanks go to…
Evelyn Gorgos, Director of Communications for the Tschuggen Hotel Group, for arranging and organizing our stay.
Hotel Director Andreas Gartmann for the invitation, and to Jochen Ebert, Assistant Director of the Eden Roc Ascona, for the pleasant guided tour of the hotel and grounds. Not to speak of the delightful Apéro! (BTW: Treat yourself to a few tidbits at the bar before going in for dinner. That little tartare is quite something!)
Hotel Eden Roc
Via Albarelle 16
The Hotel is a member of Leading Hotels of the World and Swiss Deluxe Hotels.
Prices are seasonal and by room category. They range from CHF 388 to CHF 1,500.
If you ask me, that’s not cheap, but it is a great value, to be sure. You really do get something for your money…