Switzerland is well-known for its hospitality, and one of its finest examples is the 650-year-old family-owned Hotel zum Storchen on the bank of the Limmat River, in the heart of the old town – one of the oldest continuously-run hotels in the world.
Swiss legend holds that good luck is bestowed upon a house that a stork chooses to nest upon. Hotel lore states that centuries ago, when the hotel was to be named, a pair of rare black storks made their nest upon the hotel; today, you can step on the tiled stork’s nest in the middle of the entry lobby for good luck.
Whether you are a business traveler or tourist, "the Stork" has an excellent location – a 2-minute walk from the Paradeplatz along the Bahnhofstrasse, an area that is thick with shops, banks, and restaurants. Located on the opposite side of the river from the Rathaus (town hall), about half of the hotel's rooms command wonderful views along the Limmat and across the oldest parts of the city; on clear days, you can see across the Zurichsee to the Alps. The hotel is also within walking distance of the Hauptbahnhof (main train station), and many of Zurich’s top sightseeing destinations, restaurants, and shops.
The staff at the Storchen is a major part of their hospitality. From the bellhops who greet you upon arrival to the front desk and concierge to the people who work in the on-site restaurants, you feel warmly welcomed – and more importantly, they remember you and make you feel pampered. Of particular note is their general manager, Jean-Philippe Jaussi, who has been with the hotel for 25 years: he invites all guests to be welcome to join him on his morning jog/walk.
The Storchen has 75 rooms, comfortably decorated, with great views, spacious bathrooms, posture-adjustable beds, safety deposit box (insured for up to CHF 1,000), cable and pay-per-view television, minibar, digital telephone, in-room PC connection, hair dryer, and bath products. Other welcoming touches include fresh fruit and flowers and bottled water in your room upon check-in. Room rates start from €220. Room rates include breakfast, as well as VAT and other taxes – conveniently, you can figure out room rates in your own currency via the reservations page on their website (www.storchen.ch). There is free Internet access in the business center, and three restaurants – a full-service restaurant, a piano bar, and a coffee bar – are located within the hotel.
The hotel was completely rebuilt in 1939 and was thoroughly renovated in 1999; the hotel has a marvelous blend of the modern and the traditional – one of Zurich’s guilds even calls the Storchen home. It is romantic and luxurious, welcoming and warm, the type of hotel I would readily return to again and again.