Zürich’s cobbled Old Town streets wind out from Marktgasse Hotel, a stay set in two historic townhouses. Each mod-minimalist guest room is unique, but all have cloud-soft beds and period detailing. There's dining to write home about, too: high-concept culinary feats at Igniv or fluffy pinsas (a variation on pizza) and cinnamon rolls at the more casual Delish, La Pinseria. On sunny days the Igniv bar terrace is the place for chilled cocktails and people-watching.
39, including four rooms with unique historic features and one Junior Suite.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Late check-out is available up until 4pm for CHF20 an hour, or a flat fee of CHF100 for 4pm till 8pm; after that the full nightly rate will be charged. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £185.02 (CHF230), including tax at 3.7 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of CHF2.50 per person per night on check-in.
Rates include free coffee and tea in the lobby, plus a light breakfast of croissants, eggs, cheese, yoghurts and juices, which can be picked up at reception.
Browse for a book in the hotel’s library or decamp to the adjoining salon for a night of drinks and board games. Both rooms can be hired out for special events.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, library, terrace, and access to the off-site gym (a 15-minute walk from the hotel). In rooms: TV, water carafes (with a filling station in every corridor), Soeder bath products, air-conditioning; the Historic Double rooms and and Junior Suite also have Nespresso coffee machines and Geneva sound systems.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms in this listed building have unique layouts and period details, including some parquet flooring, original tiled stoves and large windows, depending on your choice of lodging; rooms on higher floors tend to have less-lofty ceilings than those on lower floors, and rooms at the back are a bit quieter than their street-facing counterparts. For an alfresco space to call your own, swing for the generously sized Historic Double with a roof terrace and you’ll be rewarded with cityscape views from your private perch.
Hotel guests have free access to the gyms and wellness areas of the Fitnesspark Stockerhof and Fitnesspark Stadelhofen, both a 15-minute walk away. Here you can also book a sports massage (for an extra charge) after your cardio session. The gym opens from 6am to 10pm from Monday to Friday, and from 8am to 8pm on weekends; the wellness centre opens from 8am to 9.45pm from Monday to Friday, and from 8am to 7.45pm on weekends.
Bring your cobblestone-ready footwear and an appetite for cinnamon rolls and chocolate.
All common areas in the hotel are wheelchair accessible, there’s a lift to all floors and two guestrooms have specially-adapted bathrooms; check availability with our Smith24 team when booking.
Welcome. There are games and books in the library, and baby cots and highchairs can be provided on request.
In Delish, tables at the back have street views for prime people-watching.
In casual Delish, don your lunchtime best. It's much more formal at Igniv.
Casual café Delish La Pinseria serves a selection of breakfast goodies in the mornings and pinsas (a fluffier variation on pizza), salads and desserts later on. For fine dining, book ahead at Igniv (pronounced Inn-yif, from the Romansh word for nest), a high-concept restaurant based on sharing and masterminded by star chef Andres Caminada.
Delish is open daily from 11am to 6pm (last orders 5.45pm). Igniv is open from Tuesday to Friday (11am to 3pm and 5pm to 11pm) and from 5pm to 11pm on Saturdays.
Marktgasse Hotel is on a pedestrianised cobblestone street in the heart of Zürich’s old town.
Direct flights from major hubs in North America and across Europe land at Zürich Airport, 30 minutes away by car; our Smith24 team can arrange your flights and transfers.
Eurostar and TGV trains regularly pull into Zürich Main Station, 10 minutes by car from the hotel.
You won’t need a car to navigate the city – and they’re technically verboten in Old Town – but you can drive right up the traffic-free street to the hotel door to drop your bags; just have a print-out of your reservation handy to show to traffic police if asked. There are several paid (CHF40-50 a day) public car parks within a short walk from the hotel.
You can catch a city tram from Zürich Main Station or the airport to the Rathaus stop; the hotel is a minute’s walk away on Marktgasse.
Worth getting out of bed for
Keen swimmers are in luck: lakeside Zürich loves its lidos (there are 18 in total); we especially like Seebad Enge. Boutique lovers will find they’re only a five-minute walk from main shopping promenade Bahnhofstrasse, and foodies can explore their way through artisanal shop Berg un Tal for local treats and regional drinks. Modern-art aficionados can get their fix at Kunsthaus Zürich, which has a Swiss-centric collection that spans from the Middle Ages to nowadays. Opera enthusiasts can easily swing by the city’s main venue, just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, to check out the schedule, and for board-treading action, there’s the nearby the Schauspielhaus theatre. For little Smiths, the zoo is 15 minutes away by tram, and the city’s toy museum is a five-minute walk away. If you're planning on shopping, note that everything's closed on Sundays.
It wouldn’t be a holiday in Switzerland without at least one raclette or fondue night, so get cheesy at Le Dézaley. If it’s an authentic Swiss meal you’re after, upscale Kronenhalle has you covered. Specialties include Baleron-sausage salad, thick-cut Chateaubriand fillets and dreamy mousse au chocolat.
Café Schober has been crafting decadent chocolates and cakes for over a hundred years. Swing by this baroque-style century-old space for a sugar-buzzing Kaffee und Kuchen break; in warmer months, try to snag a seat on the terrace.
Formerly the Casa Bar – Zurich's oldest jazz club – stylish drinking den BarMünster honours its heritage with Sunday music sessions. Keep one hand free for clicking along while the other nurses a rosemary fizz.
It’s difficult to think of Zurich without thinking of order. Everything just works, much as one might expect from Switzerland, from the calm 10 minute train journey from the airport to the middle of the town, down to the signage, restaurants and streets: no traffic, no mess and no stress.
Mr Smith – who, despite hailing from Croydon, considers himself Germanic due to his love of wellness, design and organisation (he’s already located the stunning 1930s 50m swimming pool, the Hallenblad) – is in his element the second we step off the train. Well, until he’s nearly taken out by one of the super-efficient and deceptively quiet trams whizzing along the roads in every direction; but that’s Zurich for you – seamless organisation waits for no man.
But Zurich’s order doesn’t mean it’s sterile; it’s a vibrant, lively city with an ancient heart and a thoughtful, brave approach to town-planning regeneration, particularly in the cool western part where design boutiques and cafés under the Viadukt and around Josefstrasse bring a creative edge and an utterly modern contrast to the chocolate-box old town.
We stroll along cobbled streets towards the Marktgasse hotel, which perfects the art of modernising the ancient. The walls in the reception offer glimpses of 15th-century frescoes alongside mid-century furniture, understated dove-grey panelling and stunning wooden floors. It’s the kind of pared-back style that makes you want to immediately go home and throw out every scatter cushion.
Its position could not be better for a weekend of pottering around and pretending to be a Globally Important Business Person; nestled in the heart of the old town behind the riverside, it has shops, restaurants and lively bars right on its doorstep.
Swiss efficiency extends with style into the bedrooms; Aesop products, soft linen and hyper-silencing glazing on the windows ensure a good night’s sleep. Despite a check-in time of 2pm, the hotel has rustled us up a beautiful room by 10am (not guaranteed but do ask), and after a high-power shower our pottering can begin in earnest.
The pretty rivers running through the city lead to the tranquil Zurichsee lake, with spectacular snow-capped mountains behind and a skyline punctured by myriad spires. It’s a focal point for local sports, with jogging routes, paddleboarding, and stylish swim/sauna clubs on jetties. We head across one of the many pretty bridges across the river to Zurich’s equivalent of Bond St: Bahnhofstrasse, where the Old Money doggies drip with diamonds and the windows of oligarchs’ cars remain blacked out. Despite the restaurants here being very expensive, a trip to one of the huge historical kellers (beer halls) is a must; an atmospheric way to while away an Aperol Spritz whilst people-watching out the windows.
Delish, the Marktgasse hotel’s café, serves super-fresh deli-style food all day, so we head back there for a healthy lunch before shoving a couple of tasty strudels in our faces; surely the best preparation possible for taking our clothes off in front of strangers in the gym?
The Marktgasse offers all guests the chance to use the Fitnesspark, a minute’s walk down the road, without extra charge. Mr Smith being, in his view, focused (in mine, boring), heads for the well-specced gym. I, however, cannot resist the allure of the hammam. The hours of 4-6pm usually being filled with work, commute, kids and quotidien stresses means that the chance to be sitting in a steam room in absolute silence is an opportunity not to be missed.
It’s fair to say that an efficient Swiss gym system, plus a vast underground Moroccan hammam with ten individual rooms, absolute silence and naked people of both genders, provides the kind of opportunity for social embarrassment and logistical confusion that may keep an average Brit away.
Being an average Brit, I almost turn tail when, armed with my high-tech entry bracelet from the hotel and wearing a swimsuit, I am instructed to take off everything and only wear a small towel (provided), whether in or out of the water. This being central Europe, of course, many of the men consider this an optional extra, so be prepared to keep your eyes high…
I’m presented with a waterproof map of my hammam journey, and sent downstairs to follow the (thankfully English) instructions in each luxuriously calm subterranean room to be loofahed, soaked, relaxed, steamed and mud bathed (the ‘Rhassoul’). Malene’s oil massage then kneads you into such a catatonic state of relaxation that it’s all you can do to crawl back to the hotel for a reviving gin and tonic and an outstanding meal in the hotel’s Baltho restaurant.
All this wellness and relaxation – thinking only about what to eat, buy or look at next – seems at odds with our preconceptions of Zurich as a super-busy business hub. But if everything works, it supports your relaxation; you can drift off rather selfishly into your own thoughts and take in the history, the landscape and the culture. Just don’t drift off too much, or the trams will get you.