Hotel des Balances, Lucerne: take a walk on the cultural side
Interview: Nina Prehofer
Peter E. Büsser has been successfully running the Hotel des Balances in picturesque Lucerne for over thirty years. And who can blame him for not wanting to leave when the city is so rich in culture, including his own historic building?
It’s not just the Hotel des Balances that’s steeped in history – the city of Lucerne simply oozes tradition. What are your own cultural and historical highlights?
Peter E. Büsser: The Hotel des Balances has a truly rich heritage stretching all the way back to 1199. At that time, an inn stood on this spot, then later the nobility would meet here for tea, and in the 1960s renowned Swiss cabaret artist Emil Steinberger began his stage career here.
The building itself is also famous for its façade murals painted in the style of German renaissance artist Hans Holbein, and it is one of the most-photographed spots in Lucerne.
Today, the Hotel des Balances displays the ultimate harmony of historical structure and contemporary design.
In more recent history, the development of KKL Luzern, the city’s culture and congress centre, is a milestone that really puts Lucerne in the international spotlight. It’s not just the architecture by Jean Nouvel that draws people in – the acoustics of the Concert Hall also attract prominent artists from around the world year after year. It is both an architectural and a cultural asset for the city and for our guests.
You’re located on the banks of the Reuss with views of the Jesuit Church, the Chapel Bridge and the mountains in the background. Why would you even need to leave the hotel?
Peter E. Büsser: The location in the centre of Lucerne’s old town, right on the Reuss, is certainly unique. From the rooms and suites or from the restaurant terrace, you can enjoy a simply breathtaking view of the mountain landscape, the Chapel Bridge – the landmark of the city – and the Jesuit Church.
But ultimately it is the whole package that sets our hotel apart from the rest: the stylish décor, the charm of the building, the cosy atmosphere, the creative culinary offering and particularly our personal service.
All of Lucerne’s most famous sights are within a short walk of the hotel. A stroll through the quaint old town is always worth it, as is a visit to the weekly market on the edge of the Reuss. Or why not head to the theatre, out on a boat or take a trip up Pilatus or Rigi? It’s all on our doorstep.
You yourself have been at the Hotel des Balances for many years. What have you always placed the most emphasis on?
Peter E. Büsser: The details and the quality of service.
I want to offer our guests an enjoyable and decadent experience that they won’t forget in a hurry.
That includes creating a pleasant atmosphere in which both guests and employees feel comfortable, an atmosphere where you can meet and chat with people informally.
I attach great importance to employees who love their job and who love people. I have run the hotel with a high degree of trust and respect for over thirty years now, and it’s thanks to my incredible team that I can hand over authority and responsibility without reservation – it’s a method that’s proved itself successful for many years.
Which moment will always stay with you?
Peter E. Büsser: There are two: first of all, the fire on the Chapel Bridge in 1993. We could see the flames from up close in the hotel – that was a tragic moment. Then in 2005 we spent over a million francs on renovating our restaurant. Just two months later, there was a flood and we were knee-deep in water. We had to start the renovations all over again.
What will be important in the future?
Peter E. Büsser: An undamaged environment – we do our bit to take care of it, and we also try to encourage our guests to be more aware of how they use resources.
In addition to that, I want to increase the use of the Hotel des Balances as a venue for meetings and other events. Our stunning rooms are perfect for this purpose.