the English way of life in Bern

An interview with hotel creators Patrik Scherrer and Luzius Kuchen

Having only reopened in mid-January following a complete refurbishment lasting a whole year, The Bristol has already found its clientele. The hotel in Bern’s historic Old Town is well booked, and the lounge is already a popular meeting place for locals – a huge compliment from the Bernese public, who are known for their restraint. Patrik Scherrer and Luzius Kuchen, the owners of Swiss Design Collection, developed the stylish, straightforward concept. A great deal of passion and attention to detail went into redesigning The Bristol. This is obvious when you are at the hotel or have a chat with hotel creators Patrik Scherrer and Luzius Kuchen.

BRITISH
FLAIR

The idea of adding British flair to the traditional Bernese hotel on Schauplatzgasse 10 makes you curious about the characters behind the concept. With their vision for The Bristol, Swiss Design Collection won over the owner of the hotel, Liegenschaften-Betrieb AG. In this interview, Scherrer (former long-time CEO of the Kursaal Bern) and Kuchen (hotel and tourism consultant) explain why The Bristol is what it is today, and what guests can expect of this new four-star hotel in the heart of Bern’s historic Old Town.

Patrik Scherrer, Luzius Kuchen, you developed the concept for The Bristol in Bern together; you also run and manage the hotel. And you launched Swiss Design Collection.
Patrik Scherrer: Correct. At the beginning, there was The Bristol project, which we worked on together in different roles. In doing so, we realised that together we have quite an interesting approach.
Luzius Kuchen: And that’s where Swiss Design Collection AG developed from. For us, it is important that each of the hotels suits us and we also suit the hotels.

The Bristol is showcased by Swiss Design Collection under the Swiss Design Hotels brand. What does this brand stand for?
Patrik Scherrer: First of all, each Swiss Design Hotel will be unique in itself, but the hotels will always have something in common.
Luzius Kuchen: Yes, that’s the design aspect. This was clear to us from the very beginning, because we understand design as something completely normal that shapes our everyday lives. We didn’t want to create a hip hotel, destined to be behind the times after a couple of years, but rather we are trying to convey a contemporary feeling with The Bristol. In our opinion, the hotel industry is an industry that has a lot to do with wishes, dreams and longings. We want people to feel at home in Bern and at The Bristol, but at the same time a world away from their everyday life. We do things that might amaze or surprise you. Our hotels are meant to entice guests to stay with us not only once, but again and again.

A hotel with the very English name of The Bristol in the heart of the city of Bern. What is behind this?
Patrik Scherrer: Actually, the history of the Swiss hotel industry is very much influenced by the British. It was the British who instigated the construction of hotels in St. Moritz, Gstaad and other places in the Bernese Oberland region. In terms of history, The Bristol belongs to this series of first-class hotels, as a venerable hotel that has been run under this name on Bern’s Schauplatzgasse since 1912. A great history and one to be proud of. We also wanted to show this by changing the name from Bristol to The Bristol.

A real piece of Great Britain in the heart of Bern.
Patrik Scherrer: Yes, exactly! And what the name promises can also be found in the hotel itself. The hotel has adopted a number of British qualities: from the Brits’ uniquely dark sense of humour to the smart way they dress. That’s what makes Great Britain unique and sometimes a little bit peculiar. But all this also suits Bern, because the people of Bern like standing out from the crowd. That’s why the British theme was just right for us.

The Bristol is “very British” – is there a classic luxury hotel feeling awaiting guests?
Luzius Kuchen: Some hotels are architectural gems that attract guests because of their location – at the foot of an impressive mountain range, for example. But in the end, I think it’s all about the experience – and a desire to make the guest feel that little bit more special.
Patrik Scherrer: Once upon a time, luxury hotels were expected to be fitted with golden fixtures and chandeliers, and to be filled with as many porters, waiters and butlers as possible. Today, however, luxury is about finding a moment of serenity, being in a peaceful and tranquil place where the service is so personal that all of your needs are met before you are even aware of them yourself.
Luzius Kuchen: It’s the staff and the atmosphere in a hotel that shape the experience guests have. The feeling of being genuinely welcome and well looked after – that is what makes it stand out from the rest. The Bristol is not a typical boutique hotel, but rather a luxury bed and breakfast or a British town house located between the main station and the Swiss House of Parliament and thus quite simply at the best location in Bern.

One cannot think well,
love well, sleep well, if one
has not dined well