Switzerland’s 11 most spectacular spas

To experience some of the country’s most beautiful spots, you have to head inside to one of its world-class hotel spas.

By Sandra Ramani 12/08/2017

From the majestic Alps to the shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland is renowned for its natural beauty. But as wellness enthusiasts know, to experience some of the country’s most beautiful spots, you have to head inside to one of its world-class hotel spas.

As the birthplace of high-end skincare lines like La Prairie, Valmont, and La Mer as well as the home of cutting-edge aesthetic centres and performance-driven wellness clinics, Switzerland regards wellness as much a part of Swiss tradition as cheese and chocolate.

Here are 11 gorgeous places to relax, refresh, and get pampered—Swiss-style.

The Dolder Grand

With its lush hilltop setting overlooking Zurich, museum-quality art collection, and striking design by London-based Foster + Partners, it’s clear the iconic Dolder Grand holds aesthetics in high regard.

You’ll find further proof in the award-winning spa — a 43,000-square-foot oasis with a sleek central pool, outdoor hydrotherapy and relaxation nooks, and a spa library and café. Head to the Aqua Zone to detox in the stream or sauna, refresh in the ice room, and settle into an oversized tub filled with hundreds of heated rocks — a take on a Japanese therapy designed to ease tight muscles. Treatments feature products from Kerstin Florian, La Prairie, and Amala and range from mineral soaks and marma-point massages to targeted facials performed with ingredients like gold and caviar.

Treatment to book: The 90-minute Nature’s Organic Seasonal Facial, which starts with a foot bath infused with herbs from the Dolder Grand’s gardens, using ingredients like wild blue lotus and Swiss mountain herbs to leave skin glowing.

Park Hotel Vitznau

Don’t let the Park Hotel Vitznau’s 100-year-old, castle-like exterior fool you: Inside lies a sleek and modern haven with a Michelin-starred restaurant, unique themed suites, and James Bond–level technology. You’ll certainly feel as if you’re in a Bond film when swimming in the spa’s heated infinity pool, which juts out toward the Rigi mountains high above Lake Lucerne. Sweat it out in the Finnish sauna before taking a dip in the main pool or indoor-outdoor whirlpools, or relax in the low-humidity sanarium (kept at a constant 140 degrees Fahrenheit). Treatments pamper skin with luxurious Swiss-made La Prairie products and massage sore muscles with warm stones or herb-filled heated pouches.

Treatment to book: The Ultimate Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Facial, a 90-minute service that works anti-ageing magic on the face with La Prairie products and healing rose-quartz crystals before relaxing the back with Hawaiian-style lomi-lomi massage.

Tschuggen Grand

Starchitect Mario Botta didn’t want the 54,000-square-foot Tschuggen Bergoase spa to disrupt the lush mountain landscape above the town of Arosa. So, he hid it underground, making its striking, sculptural skylights the only perceptible structures among the forested hillsides.

Inside, however, is a wellness wonderland, with 12 treatment rooms, a gym with Techogym and Kinesis equipment, yoga and meditation areas, and multiple terraces and lounges, including one with a fireplace. Relax in indoor and outdoor pools or take a turn in the therapy circuit, outfitted with a Kneipp foot-massage track, a rock grotto bath, a “snow terrace,” and saunas of various temperatures. The menu includes everything from anti-cellulite treatments to milk-and-honey baths to traditional Indian Ayurvedic oil massages. A full medical-wellness program is also available.

Treatment to book: The Skier/Mountain Climber Massage, which soothes weary muscles with a mountain-pine-infused soak and a foot and leg massage.

Kulm Hotel

For more than 160 years, the Kulm Hotel has helped define winter travel in St Moritz, attracting generations of jet-setters and VIPs with its proximity to snowy activities like skiing and tobogganing. Whether you visit in winter or summer, save time for the spa — a pioneer of the Swiss wellness scene. The 21,500-square-foot space focuses on water-based therapies, with an indoor pool (where music pumps through underwater speakers), outdoor pools with massaging jets, a saltwater grotto, and a variety of steam rooms and saunas, including an infrared cabin. Best of all, you can soak up the panoramic views of Lake St Moritz and the Engadin Mountains while soaking in the warm waters.

Treatment to book: The LPG Lipomassage by Endermologie uses a vacuum-suction roller to stimulate the skin and connective tissue, helping to drain fluids and tighten skin. This can be performed on the body or face to smooth skin and diminish the appearance of wrinkles.

The Chedi Andermatt

Head nearly 1500 metres above sea level to find a little slice of Asia in the heart of the Swiss Alps at the Chedi Andermatt. As a nod to the roots of the GHM hotel brand, which is based in Singapore, noted architect Jean-Michel Gathy infused this 123-room hotel and residential complex with plenty of Eastern design touches, along with warm woods, soft leathers, and glowing lanterns, resulting in one of the most unique versions of Alpine chic in the country. The hotel’s spa is Asian-inspired, too, with 26,000 square feet of serene amenities including a dimly lit Tibetan Relaxation Lounge and services that draw from Indian, Balinese, and Himalayan traditions. Hot and cold plunge pools, bio-saunas, and a sleek indoor-outdoor pool add to the calming vibe.

Treatment to book: One of the four Indulgent Oriental Rituals, which run from 120 to 180 minutes. Some use imported techniques and ingredients—like Balinese- and Thai-style massages and Himalayan crystal scrubs—while the Alpienne Mountain Ritual uses regional high-altitude herbs in a body scrub, facial, and whirlpool bath.

Grand Hotel Bad Ragaz

In the mid-13th century, Benedictine monks discovered hot mineral water gushing from between the rocks of the Tamina Gorge at the foothills of Pizol Mountain, in what is now known as the St Gallen Rhine Valley. Though the monks’ original bathhouse was a bit treacherous to access — bathers had to be lowered into the gorge by rope or be carried down in sedan chairs — by the 1800s, Bad Ragaz had become home to one of the top mineral-spring centres in Europe, and the site of the continent’s first indoor thermal pool.

Today, the Grand Hotel Bad Ragaz offers plenty of distractions for guests — from golf to gambling — but wellness is still at its heart. In addition to a full medical-health and dermatology clinic, there are two spas — one open to the public, another exclusive to hotel guests—that offer dozens of treatments, multiday itineraries, fitness programs, and thermal springs therapies. With Thermal Water World, Sauna World, bathhouses, and more, you’ll need a few days to explore it all.

Treatment to book: The recently launched two-hour haki Grounding Ritual, which begins in the mineral-water-based Room for the Senses and Rain Hall, and then continues to a hotel-guests-only treatment room for a full-body cleansing, scrub, warm oil treatment, and a special massage-stretch therapy designed to align the back, neck, and core.

Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa

What started as a small inn at the foothills of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau mountains has more than 150 years later grown into one of Switzerland’s top hotels. Enjoying a prime location in the charming town of Interlaken, the belle époque–style Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa has hosted royals, artists, and regular folk alike looking to ski, hike, or golf. Since its spa’s opening in 1991—and subsequent expansions in 2002 and 2009—the resort has also attracted wellness seekers.

Today, the 59,200-square-foot complex features a large main pool; beautiful hydrotherapy, sauna, and steam areas; a gym; and a spa café, along with a warren of dimly lit treatment and relaxation rooms. Most services use products by Nescens, an anti-aging brand created 15 years ago at the Centre for the Prevention of Ageing at the Clinique de Genolier in far-west Switzerland. Personalised multiday programs overseen by a team of experts in nutrition, fitness, osteopathy, anti-aging, and preventative medicine are also available.

Treatment to book: One of the signature Nescens skin treatments, which range from 1-hour facials focusing on hydration to a 105-minute firming body massage and anti-ageing facial.

Grand Hotel Kronenhof

Located just outside the village of Pontresina, in the lush Engadin Valley, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof has been a Swiss favourite for more than 165 years for its proximity to summer and winter activities, its gourmet dining options, and its historic wine cellar, which kept guests and locals supplied with Veltliner wines through both World Wars. To find the hotel’s 21,528-square-foot spa, guests pass through a modern, all-glass rotunda with windows framing views of the valley and mountains. Inside lies a vast pool, multiple saunas, and a hydrotherapy circuit with a salt inhalation steam room, Kneipp foot baths, and a muscle-easing salt grotto. The treatment menu ranges from high-tech (anti-cellulite machines) to traditional (hands-on services using local honey and alpine herbs).

Treatment to book: The Private Spa Suite, where couples can indulge in a 50-minute de-stressing massage before enjoying an extra hour to make use of the hydro-jet tub, water bed, and steam shower — all while sipping glasses of bubbly. Guests looking for even more privacy can book the entire pool and hydrotherapy areas for themselves after 8 pm.

Le Grand Bellevue

Though Gstaad’s elegant Le Grand Bellevue — one of only a handful of Swiss hotels with a “palace” distinction—underwent a total revamp in 2013, the news didn’t stop there: In June, the property unveiled its 32,300-square-foot Le Grand Spa, a wellness facility whose soothing décor is inspired by the hills and valleys of the surrounding Bernese Oberland. The veritable spa playground features 17 different wellness and thermal areas, including a hay sauna, a Himalayan salt grotto, and an invigorating ice fountain. Head outside for the large pool and hot tub, Kneipp foot bath trail, sun terrace, and fragrant alpine garden. Treatments use products from Swiss brands like Cellcosmet and the British organic line Bamford, which is based on sustainable ingredients and botanical healing.

Treatment to book: To ease body pains, jet lag, and altitude headaches, try the Alpine-tradition-based Alp Hay Bath in which you’re wrapped in warm blankets and placed on a bed of scented local hay.

Bürgenstock Resort

Even a country full of five-star hotel spas has room for one more. Slated for completion this October, the Bürgenstock Resort will house three wellness facilities in one location, making it one of the largest of its kind in Switzerland. The centerpiece will be the 107,000-square-foot, indoor-outdoor Bürgenstock Alpine Spa, set within the frame of an original 1981 building crafted in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Spa will boast 15 treatments rooms; private spa suites; a 24-hour fitness center with Matrix equipment; yoga, Pilates, and barre studios; and a wet area with saunas, hydrotherapy, and a hammam. Both the 1,400-square-foot heated infinity pool — which will wrap around the exterior — and the glass-walled indoor pool will look out onto sparkling Lake Lucerne and Bürgenstock mountain. Treatments will use products by La Prairie, Ligne St. Barth, and Susanne Kaufmann — the latter created by a local of the Alpine Bregenzerwald valley.

Treatment to book: The official menu is still to come, but we’re excited about the signature Susanne Kaufmann skin treatments, which use products full of organic and active herbal ingredients, along with targeted massage techniques.

Eden Roc

Set on the banks of Lake Maggiore, Eden Roc is a slice of the Mediterranean in Switzerland, with a private lakeside beach that invokes a sense of the Amalfi Coast — albeit with snowcapped mountains in the distance. Though the resort’s 21,500-square-foot spa might seem small compared with the behemoths at Dolder Grand and Bürgenstock, it packs a big punch in the world of wellness with a hydro-pool, a Kneipp foot massage circuit, a large indoor-outdoor swimming pool, and both mixed-sex and women-only steam rooms and saunas.

Treatment to book: The 90-minute Swiss Contour Body Firming treatment, which smooths and firms skin using Swiss-made Cellcosmet products high in potent cellular, marine, and herbal ingredients.

ADVERTISE WITH US

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

The Finer Things

Shimmering with gold, diamonds and precious stones, these women’s watches represent the pinnacle of haute horology. Just look at them…

By Belinda Aucott-christie And Josh Bozin 16/07/2024

Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chanel, Piaget, Chopard and Cartier were among the prestige brands to unveil women’s novelties at this year’s Watches and Wonders fair in Geneva. Here we review some of our favourites, including a new style from Bulgari who impressed via an artistic collaboration with architect Tadao Ando and Chanel whose latest bobbin cuff was inspired by a spool of thread.

BULGARI

Tadao Ando Serpenti

The brand’s collaboration with lauded Japanese architect Tadao Ando artfully remixes the enduring Serpenti Tubogas model. The collection celebrates the four seasons; pictured here is the Summer (natsu) with a two-tone, yellow-gold-and-steel bracelet and a green aventurine dial. $27,600. Availability on request; Bulgari.com

VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

Lady Arpels Brise d’Été 

The maison’s Poetic Complications novelties ensure that telling the time becomes a spectacle. On this occasion, the flowers on the dial blossom and close in a randomised pattern at the touch of a button. Van Cleef & Arpels’ latest lesson in horological theatre was four years in development, with the dial alone taking 40 hours to master. Price and availability on request; vancleefandarpels.com

CHANEL

Bobbin Cuff Couture

Playing on the vintage “secret” watches of the 1920s, the Bobbin Cuff Couture was inspired aesthetically by a spool of thread. The idiosyncratic jewellery-watch is crafted entirely in 18-karat yellow gold, set with rows of brilliant-cut diamond “threads” and a 17-carat emerald-cut sapphire that hides the watch face. Price and availability on request. Chanel.com

PIAGET 

Limelight Gala Precious 

At 26 mm, a timepiece that captures the poise and elegance that has come to define Piaget’s jewellery watches. Now, with the inclusion of 38 brilliant-cut diamonds, the 18-karat rose gold “Decor Palace” dial and matching bracelet, this Limelight Gala is arguably the best of a collection that interweaves art, design and jewellery, with an emphasis on beauty. Around $118,500. Availability on request; Piaget.com

CHOPARD 

L’Heure  Du Diamant Round 

Chopard showcases its smarts in the art of diamond setting. Here, the maison’s artisans have orchestrated an amalgamation of contemporary design and alluring precious stones. The green malachite dial is a standout feature, as is the Chopard MD29 hand-wound mechanical movement. Price and availability on request; Chopard.com

CARTIER 

La Panthère de Cartier

From one of the brand’s most symbolic collections, this iteration of the Panthère de Cartier watch is designed in a rhodium-finish white gold case set with 136 brilliant-cut diamonds, and a rhodium-finish white gold panther head set with 297 brilliant-cut diamonds. The striking, pear-shaped eyes are crafted from emerald. Price and availability on request; cartier.com

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Marc Newson Has Designed Everything from Pens to Superyachts … Now He Wants to Go to Space

On the heels of a new career-spanning book, the industrial designer and Apple alum shares his ultimate design project.

By Lee Carter 16/07/2024

Sporting shades, Marc Newson reclines on a sunny terrace of his Greek island retreat. If he appears exultant, he has every reason to be. Devoting his life’s work to elevating everyday objects into items we covet, Newson has become one of the most sought-after industrial designers in the world.

Case in point, Newson has just returned from Salone del Mobile, the sprawling design fair in Milan, where he launched a colossal book about his equally colossal career, signing copies for devoted fans barely able to lift it.

Over 400 pages, the monograph chronicles Newson’s nearly four decades in design from his start as a jewelry major at Sydney College of the Arts to producing avant-garde furnishings to now crafting luxury speed boats for Riva and even a concept plane in an art project for the Fondation Cartier. All told, Marc Newson: Works 84–24 (Taschen) is a testament to his tireless pursuit of perfection.

Asked to reflect on 40 years of soaring success, the Australian designer all but blushes—or perhaps it’s the Mediterranean sun. “When I look at my own work,” he says, “particularly in the context of a document that begins and ends, it almost feels like I’m reading about someone else.” After all, he demurs, he’s only doing his job. “The core of my occupation is troubleshooting [and] problem-solving. I apply the same rigor, process, and rules to every project, whether it’s a pen or a mega-yacht.”

Marc Newson’s Horizon luggage, designed for Louis Vuitton, and his Orgone chair demonstrate the importance he puts on curves. Taschen

The Newson look is aesthetically niche, but touches almost every sector, from fashion to household goods. It’s bold yet pragmatic, sumptuous yet futuristic, reverential yet iconoclastic. A transparent timepiece for Jaeger-LeCoultre, a sensuously curved cognac bottle for Hennessy, and a sleek aluminum luggage collaboration with Louis Vuitton (the latest of which just appeared in Pharrell Williams’s spring 2025 collection) all point to a singular, forward-looking vision. Or how about the katana sword he created in 2019 with a ninth-generation master swordsmith in Japan? He calls the tradition and sophistication required to execute that work “unfathomable, almost alchemical, practically spiritual.”

Two decades ago, in 2004, he created the Zvezdochka sneaker for Nike. Modelled entirely on a computer and made from a single piece of injection-molded resin, the footwear—named after the 1961 rocket-riding Russian dog—was intended for astronauts to wear during their daily exercises in zero gravity. As Newson notes, “Where else would you need the perfect sneakers but running on a treadmill in space?”

Newson’s groundbreaking Lockheed Martin Chaise.
Taschen

From the beginning, Newson—who helped lead Apple’s design department, and the development of key products such as the Apple Watch, for five years—has always possessed the unusual ability to bend ideas about design to his will. His Lockheed Lounge, a shapely chaise pieced together from curved aluminum panels, became an instant phenomenon with its 1988 introduction. Named for its resemblance to the early aeronautical stylings of Lockheed Martin, the furniture piece bucked the reductive ethos of modern design at the time. In 2006, it broke the record for the highest price paid at auction for the work of a living designer, topping that price 11 years later in 2015, going for $3.7 million at Phillips London.

Around the turn of the millennium, Newson—a vintage sports car enthusiast who once flew to the U.S. to purchase a 1959 Aston Martin DB4 with the entirety of a paycheck—shifted gears to focus his energies on the transportation sector. Asked by Ford to jot down some concepts, he came up with the 021C in 1999. A radically simplified three-box configuration, the model had a main cabin, hood, and trunk; the latter two sections were mirror images.

The Ford 021C, which Newson claimed caused “a lot of head-scratching” at the American car company.
Taschen

“It was utterly ridiculous and childlike,” Newson says of the design with a laugh. “There was a lot of head-scratching [at Ford], but I reasoned that since I’m not an automotive designer, I don’t want to and can’t play the typical automotive games.” Thanks to the support of Ford’s “brilliantly curious and open” top brass, the cartoon of a car became a drivable reality and a beloved Newson fan favorite. Soon after the release of the 021C, the Australian airline Qantas came knocking, seeking Newson’s design eye for a variety of projects, including the interiors of its airport lounges and, more challengingly, the invention of a fully horizontal bed for its premier passengers on long-haul flights. No small feat of imagination, this triumph led to his appointment as the company’s creative director.

The Qantas Skybed, designed for the Australian airline’s long-haul flights. Qantas

As Newson’s fame ascended, so did the demand for his work—in the design industry and beyond. New York gallerist Larry Gagosian was quick to add the maverick designer to his roster of art stars, such as Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, and Michael Heizer, and in 2007, he mounted Newson’s first solo exhibition in the U.S., featuring a limited-edition, experimental furniture series. “The stuff I do with Gagosian is not exactly mainstream design,” Newson says. “They’re these sort of rarefied follies [or] crazy experiments that I concoct. I don’t have to answer to anyone except myself—and perhaps Larry.” One object in the exhibition was a nickel surfboard with a storied lineage. “I wanted the prototype to be tested by [professional big wave surfer] Garrett McNamara,” Newson recalls. “He took the board to a Pacific island notorious for its huge swells on top of a coral reef. He actually lost the board in the waves and was driving back to his hotel when he saw a local with this tangled mass of metal under his arm. The story goes that the Mir space station had plummeted into the ocean the day before, and this guy thought he had found pieces from the crash. He had no idea it was a crushed surfboard.”

Is there a project he has yet to tackle? “Every time I think I’m at the end of the list,” he says, smiling, “I think of something new.” Space, for instance. “I would love to work more extensively in the area of space exploration. That is something I continue to find compelling and fascinating. It ticks all the boxes for me in terms of engaging with technology, incredible processes, and modern materials. And, of course, I would love to go to space. That’s the end game.”

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Piaget Just Dropped a Colourful High-Jewellery Line with 1970s Style

“Essence of Extraleganza,” a fusion of the words extravagance and elegance, is a tour de force of haute joaillerie that celebrates Piaget’s 150th year.

By Victoria Gomelsky 16/07/2024

Long before Piaget was a jeweller, it was a watchmaker. The luxury brand traces its roots to La Côte-aux-Fées, a village in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel where Georges-Édouard Piaget founded a movement-making company in 1874.

In 1959, the maison introduced jewellery for the first time, showcasing its creations at the new Salon Piaget in Geneva. Almost immediately, the brand established itself as a trendsetter across both realms.

Piaget

Proof that the watchmaker-turned-jeweller continues to occupy the most rarefied precincts of the luxury trade arrived last month, when Piaget unveiled its “Essence of Extraleganza” high jewellery collection. The third and arguably most spectacular of the brand’s 150th anniversary product introductions (following the reboot in February of its Piaget Polo 79 timepiece and the April unveiling of the thinner-than-thou Altiplano Ultimate Concept Flying Tourbillon), the collection of 96 jewels and bejewelled timepieces is a tour de force of craftsmanship and gem-setting that bears an explicit connection to Piaget’s roots in jewellery.

“Of our three major launches this year to date, none of them have just been a launch — each and every one of them has hinged on a product, a story, a saga bringing the past and present together,” Benjamin Comar, CEO of Piaget, tells Robb Report.

Piaget

“So of course, this high jewellery collection had to bring more density than a regular collection. And this is why it’s called ‘Essence of Extraleganza’ — because through these 96 pieces, Piaget’s artistic director, Stéphanie Sivrière, went back to the Piaget DNA, to the moment when Piaget evolved from watchmaker to jeweller, to the decisive moment where this Swiss maison decided to revolutionise the watch world by imagining a new avant-garde vocabulary, filled with colours, textures and gold: the 21st Century Collection.”

That collection, introduced in 1969, included an array of jewellery watches that reimagined how to wear time. From metal bracelets with a fabric-like texture to swinging sautoirs, the pieces were bold, colourful and utterly of the moment.

Piaget

Three years ago, when Sivrière began working on what would become Essence of Extraleganza, she took her inspiration from those heritage designs of the 1960s and ’70s. The result is a stunning lineup of bold, cheerful and wildly original jewels, including highlights such as a necklace featuring a fiery cascade of trapezoid-cut carnelians set in rose gold and centered on a 21.23-carat cushion-cut spessartite garnet; a cuff watch loaded with 26.11 carats of baguette-cut Colombian emeralds; and a suite of blue-on-blue designs including a V-shaped necklace set with sapphires, tourmalines, and marquise-cut aquamarines surrounded by opals, turquoise and diamonds, along with a matching ring and pair of mismatched earrings.

Piaget

“Stephanie chose to highlight the couture inspiration of Piaget and paid homage to our chainmaker skills as a golden thread throughout the collection,” Comar says. “This was very impressive to witness unravelling in front of our eyes week after week. The carnelian necklace, for instance, was created like a never-ending puzzle: first the mesh structure completely hand-woven, then every hue and piece identified by a number and patiently assembled to create this mix-and-match yet balanced effect.”

The throughline that connects the 2024 collection to the one introduced 55 years earlier is, undoubtedly, Piaget’s willingness to embrace modernity while employing traditional techniques in service of timeless designs.

“Piaget’s jewellery style is still coherent and that’s the beauty of it,” Comar says. “When Valentin Piaget asked his Swiss designers in the early Sixties to go to Paris in order to attend a couture show and get inspired by this fashion revolution (think Cardin, Courrèges, Twiggy) this was so incredibly new for the time. And today, when we look at their past gouaches where they would create the swinging sautoirs directly on the glossy pages of the fashion magazines to really picture what this woman would be wearing today, it’s so modern. And still has the same effect today: timeless yet modern. That is the Piaget paradox.”

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Bay Watch 

After losing its lustre for decades, Sydney’s Double Bay is undergoing a renaissance. And with harbour views, lush parks and a friendly village feel, it’s no wonder luxury developments are flourishing.

By Horacio Silva 16/07/2024

The boarded storefronts on the strip of New South Head Road in Double Bay currently under construction near Cross Street are plastered with archival images of the harbourside suburb in its 1960s and 1970s heyday. In the grainy black-and-white images, passers-by dressed in their imported European finery inhabit the bustling streets and fashionable shopping destinations of the time, including Mark Foy’s department store on Knox Street and the chic boutiques of Claire Handler, Maria Finlay and Nellie Vida—three Hungarian expats who sourced the latest trends from the Continent for style-starved locals. 

The images serve as a reminder of an era when European designers dictated the style for modish Australians. They’re also a document of how much this prestigious enclave, located 11 minutes’ drive from the CBD and a snow-cone’s throw from some of Sydney’s best beaches, has changed.

The area’s once-thriving boutiques are a thing of the past, replaced by all manner of beauty-focused establishments. Gone too are the open-air dances in Steyne Park, the old Hoyts Theatre (an Art Deco gem of a building on the main drag that was the nexus of the community) and the illegal casino a few doors down from it called the Double Bay Bridge Club.

Which is not to say that this once-sleepy hollow, whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed in the last 50 years, has become the profligate relic that detractors, who pilloried it as “Double Pay”, predicted it would become after it fell from favour over the past few decades. Far from it. “There’s only one Double Bay,” says Angela Belle McSweeney, director of Australian Turf Club and a former public relations maven whose office was located for years on Knox Street, above the famed 21 restaurant.  “In terms of Australian glamour, it’s always been the benchmark and now more than ever.”

Joseph Hkeik, the owner of All Saint Clinic, which caters to the taut skin of the city’s high society, concurs. “There really is something palpable in the air,” says Hkeik, who is in as good a position as any to talk about the changing face of the place.

“A lot is happening, and everyone wants to be seen in Double Bay. It’s the hotspot of Sydney.”

All Saint Clinic

If Double Bay is once again the talk of the town, it’s in no small part due to chef and restaurateur Neil Perry. After stepping away in early 2020 as founder of the Rockpool Group, through which he created legendary restaurants such as Rockpool and Spice Temple, Perry resurfaced a few months later with plans to start anew on the prized willow-festooned corner of Bay Street and Guilfoyle Avenue. In June 2021, he opened his award-winning seafood restaurant Margaret, and soon after, the adjacent bar Next Door and the Baker Bleu bakery two premises along.

He has not looked back. The fat cats today may be younger than the potentates who used to frequent the area’s old stamping grounds like George’s and the Hunter’s Lodge, and the ladies who lunch are more “wind-swept” than their pre-Botox predecessors, but the Lamborghinis and Ferraris parked nearby suggest that this is once again where the elite meet to eat.

“It is definitely going through a renaissance,” says Perry of his new domain, “but I honestly think it’ll be more than a passing moment. Double Bay has the beautiful parks and waterfront, and for all the glitz it also has that village atmosphere close to the city that everyone wants. And there is so much investment in the place.” That’s somewhat of an understatement.

Originally earmarked to be the site of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens when it was settled in the 1820s, the suburb remains as green as ever, but these days it’s hard to see the trees for all the construction cranes. 

On Bay Street alone, real estate powerhouse Fortis has broken ground on mixed-use properties that are among the city’s most hotly anticipated new addresses. Of the new developments, perhaps the most eagerly awaited is Ruby House, a luxury five-storey strata office block on the corner of New South Head Road and Bay Street, due for completion in early 2025. A collaboration of luminaries, including Lawton Hurley as lead architects and interiors by Woods Bagot, Ruby House will offer a range of sun- dappled office spaces, ranging from 60–550 m², with starting prices around $3 million. The ground floor will feature retail spaces, as well as three best-in-class restaurants, adding more culinary heft to a street that already includes Bibo, Matteo and Tanuki.

Ruby House

“Our vision for Double Bay is to bring life back into this once-great suburb,” says Charles Mellick, director of Fortis, “and to create a vibrant precinct that is seen as the most sought-after neighbourhood in Sydney, if not all of Australia.” Big call, indeed. And yet take a stroll along the suburb’s verdant paths and suddenly Mellick’s words do not feel so hyperbolic. A few doors down from Ruby House, 24 Bay St is slated to open this August in the heritage- listed modernist masterpiece, Gaden House, designed by Neville Gruzman, a former Mayor of Woollahra and one of Sydney’s most influential 20th-century architects. Fortis is also teaming with architects Lawton Hurley on the building, which will house Song Bird, Neil Perry’s (does this man ever sleep?) new three-storey, 230-seat Cantonese restaurant. Underground will be the speakeasy Bobbie’s, helmed by Linden Pride of Caffe Dante in New York, voted best bar in the world in 2019. 

“Double Bay used to have two of the best Chinese restaurants in the city,” says Perry, referring to the defunct Cleveland and Imperial Peking. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel with Song Bird so it’s going to be great to continue that tradition.”

Across the street at 19-27 Bay Street, the first flagship RH Gallery, formerly Restoration Hardware, is also under construction. A five-level commercial building, opening in late 2025, it will house bespoke luxury home furnishings and a rooftop restaurant not unlike the company’s jumping location in New York’s Meatpacking District. Meanwhile, a few blocks over on Cross Street, Ode—a luxury tower developed by Top Spring Australia—is slated to open in 2025 next to the InterContinental Hotel (itself recently sold and being reimagined to include top-floor apartments and retail). Designed by Luigi Rosselli Architects, Ode’s 15 spacious residences and penthouses, with shimmering harbour views, are being eagerly contested by the one percent, with two of the three penthouses already being bought off-plan for $21.5 and $24.9 million.

Ode, Double Bay

For all the positivity, and dollars, swirling around the suburb, there is no cast-iron guarantee that these new commercial opportunities will help rekindle the moribund boutique scene and return Double Bay to its former fashionable standing. It’s been a while since Claire Handler and her Hungarian cohorts made cash registers sing.

As such, not everyone is convinced about the suburb’s supposed rebirth. “The rents in this area are astronomical as it is,” says Tony Yeldham, the legendary menswear impresario who opened his Squire Shop for discerning gentlemen as a teenager in 1956. “It’s going to be near impossible for smaller players to stay alive, but I’ve seen this area go through so many ups and downs so I’m hopeful if sceptical.” For the most part, the locals remain sanguine about the area’s potential, with one proviso. As Joseph Hkeik explains, “We just need these lovely builders to finish up so we can all get some peace and quiet.”

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Parmigiani Fleurier Just Dropped 3 New Perfectly Sized Tonda Watches

The growing demand for smaller watches isn’t slowing down, and these new models from Parmigiani are on trend.

By Cait Bazemore 16/07/2024

For the past several years, we’ve seen a growing trend of smaller watches. According to veteran dealer Matthew Bain, 36 mm to 38 mm is the ideal watch size, and it seems many collectors agree as the demand for smaller watches continues to grow. The trend goes beyond proportions and is part of a bigger movement toward more accessible and inclusive watches for all wrists, regardless of gender. This push reflects a growing prominence of female watch collectors like Lung Lung Thun who told Robb Report this week that she desires more watches in the 34 to 37 mm range. In response, countless brands have been reimagining some of their most iconic models with smaller proportions, from Chopard’s 36 mm Alpine Eagle to Breitling’s 36 mm Navitimer. At this year’s Watches & Wonders, it was even a tiny Cartier Tank measuring just 24 mm x 16.5 mm that stole the show.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF 36 mm in Rose Gold with Sand Gold Dial and Diamond Accents. Parmigiani Fleurier.

Parmigiani Fleurier is a brand who is no stranger to creating more modestly sized timepieces with consideration for all wrists and all genders. The brand first launched its Tonda PF collection in 2021 with a larger 42 mm model. A year later, they updated the line with a 36 mm Tonda PF, which went on to win the Women’s Watch Prize at the GPHG. This smaller version was so successful, Parmigiani added a 36 mm two-tone variation for the first time just last year. Now, we get three new 36 mm versions of the Tonda PF Automatic in new dial and metal combinations and with the addition of gem setting.

Tonda PF 36 mm in three new distinct styles.
Today, Parmigiani has unveiled three new takes on it’s perfectly proportioned Tonda PF: one in rose gold with a sand gold dial and diamond accents priced at $125.400, one in rose gold with a warm grey dial and diamond accents priced at $101,471, and one in two-tone stainless steel and rose gold with a white citrine dial and a more subtle touch of diamonds just on the hour markers priced at $50,662.
Tonda PF 36 mm in Two-Tone with White Citrine Dial and Diamond Accents
Parmigiani Fleurier

For each version, you get the classic curves of the Tonda PF you know and love with sweet-spot 36 mm sizing, and it’s loaded with Parmigiani’s automatic PF770 manufacture movement with a 60-hour power reserve. For the rose gold iterations, there’s a bit more bling with diamonds on the indices, bezel, and bracelet for the sand gold dial and diamonds on the indices and bezel of the warm gray dial. With each of the new 36 mm Tonda PF watches, the brand has used fully traceable and ethically sourced gold and diamonds.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected