The Storchen Hotel embodies an idyllic characterization of Zürich, and has done so for over six centuries. In this portrait a la Zurichoise, guests sip their espressos on the terrace of the Rotisserie while overlooking the Limmat river, or look out their hotel room window in the morning to admire centuries-old architecture, the Alps and the two banks of the river. Blending seamlessly into a luxurious setting, the Storchen Hotel manages to remain personable and in touch with what their customers want. With its administration’s long experience in exclusive hospitality and unequaled location in Zurich, the Storchen attracts a high-end clientele that further cements its validity amongst other 4 and 5 star hotels.
“Home away from home,” as written in the Storchen guestbook by the late Jon Lord, vocalist in the band Deep Purple. With over six and a half centuries worth of hospitality, the Storchen Hotel has welcomed many important guests and celebrities, including former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who has praised the Storchen Hotel for its laudable services and staff. In a letter to the managing director Jörg Arnold, Prodi thanked him for his stay: “The renowned hospitality offered by the Storchen Hotel… has proven once again to be worth of its excellent reputation.”
High praise well deserved. In August of 2012, Trip Advisor named the Storchen Hotel number 1 out of 124 hotels in Zurich for its stunning location and accommodating staff. According to Hortense Anda-Bürhle, owner of the Storchen Hotel and co-heiress to the major sharehold Bürhle group, the hotel’s personnel remains, above all, “competent, discreet, polite, and experienced.” From a highly influential and prominent Swiss industrialist family, Anda-Bürhle was also the wife of the internationally acclaimed pianist Géza Anda. Today she presides the Géza Anda Foundation and regularly hosts, at the Storchen hotel, the triennial international piano competition, the Concours Géza Anda.
Notwithstanding Storchen Hotel’s exclusive positioning, it has opted to remain traditional in the manner it operates. No electronic door-opening technology or impersonal key cards; Arnold says they prefer old-fashioned heavy key fobs. “The weight of the keys encourages guests to leave them with the concierge, which gives us the opportunity for further all important personal contact,” says Arnold.
Available 24/7, the concierge team at the Storchen Hotel prides itself on being reliable and congenial. “Our guests are met by staff who radiate positivity. Our employees feel at home at the Storchen Hotel and so naturally welcome guests as the hotel’s friends,” says Arnold.
The cozy feeling that keeps being alluded to by employees and guests is partly the result of the Storchen’s centuries-long participation in the rich history of the city. First mentioned in Zürich tax records in 1357 as the ‘Hus Zum Storchen,’ the Storchen, then considered an inn, witnessed some of the beginnings of Zürich’s modern development, in the 1300s and 1400s. One of the majestic views for the hotel, the Münsterbrücke Bridge, over the narrowest part of the Limmat river, has connected since 1838, the left and the right bank of the Limmat and the eponymous Zürich must-visit edifices of the Dame Cathedral and the Great Cathedral, situated on the two parts of Zürich’s old town. The bridge has historically also served as a thoroughfare to trade routes, linking Germany to Italy: ships docking at the port, laden with merchandise and trade goods were a popular sight in the past. Today, remnants of these transactions can be lived at the traditional and car-free Muensterhof Square, where Zurich authorities will hold open-air events during the summer starting February 2014.
Rise in trade and development led to the formation of a several guilds, trade groups or organizations in which merchants of a similar trade could form under. Guild festivities and event halls became the height of societal gathering. Inevitably, an inn had to be built in this new hub of commerce.
In 1498, Zurich received high-ranking visits from the burgesses of Schwyz, 200 of whom attended the ensuing Spring Carnival, celebrating the arrival of spring and renewed trading season. The Storchen became regarded as part of the exuberant culture in which Zürich authorities would, according to tradition, entertain guests lavishly in the 1400s, and did this in part at the Storchen Hotel. This sense of ‘courtoisie’ is still alive today in the Storchen’s facilities such as the ‘Rôtisserie’, the hotel’s restaurant with its traditional Guild Room atmosphere.
The ‘Storchen’, whose name is a mystery to this day, has since enjoyed one of the most elite locations in old town Zürich. Yards away from the Bahnhofstrasse, one of the world’s most exclusive and expensive shopping avenues, guests can shop at international fashion houses such as Hermès, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Bulgari, and Chanel. The Paradeplatz, one of the most famous and expensive squares in Zurich, is home to the headquarters of the two biggest Swiss banks, Credit Suisse and UBS. A two-minute walk away from the hotel is the Fraumünster church, built in 853 by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard as a convent. Marc Chagall, renowned for his work with stained glass windows, installed in 1970 five of his creations in the church, 9.8-meter tall stained glass windows with vivid colors and Christian symbolism. A hub alive with culture and art such as Chagall’s windows, Zurich’s old town has plenty to visit while staying at the Storchen.
As part of its cultural history, the Storchen has a special relationship with storks. As the legend goes, good luck comes to those whose house a stork chooses to nest on. Centuries ago, a couple of black storks, then a rare phenomenon, landed on the roof of the hotel and nested. During a storm, the nest was blown off the roof, leaving the eggs on the pavement in front of the hotel. Among the eggs was a black one, now depicted in the center of the Storchen’s lobby. As the egg has brought much luck and success for the Storchen Zürich Hotel, whose establishment has stood for over 650 years, a mosaic of a stork’s nest displayed in the hotel lobby is a reminder that the Storchen may, perhaps, bring some luck to you during your stay. The mosaic is just a small part of what the Storchen brings to the Zürich lifestyle: tradition, culture professionalism and elegance.
Article by Joy Corthesy