< SWITZERLAND | VEVEY: Hôtel des Trois Couronnes
The well-established hotel owner Gabriel Monnet inaugurated the hotel on May 3, 1842. He used to have an inn on the Rue du Simplon in the heart
of town and simply transferred the inn's name to his new hotel, now on the water's edge. Building waterfront hotels to substitute for hotels in the city's heart was
all the rage during this period: several hotels in Geneva had done it (for instance, the Couronnes in 1836 and the Ecu de Geneve in 1841), as well as in Luzern (the
Schwanen in 1835). When the Hotel des Trois Couronnes in Vevey was built, there were few hotels on the shores of Lake Geneva that could measure up to it as far as
size and interiors were concerned. At best, the Hotel des Bergues in Geneva, inaugurated in 1834, or the Hotel Byron in Villeneuve near Castle Chillon, opened in 1841
were comparable to this new hotel.
In 1863 the town council of Vevey decided to build a quay along the waterfront which caused the hotel to lose its direct access to the lake. Around 1890, the hotel underwent a radical change: in the briefest of time, it was changed from a neo-classical building to a neo-baroque triple-wing structure grouped around a northern courtyard.
Despite these changes, when one steps through the hotel's doors one feels set back in time. The historic rooms are carefully kept in character with the hotel and they still evoke the spirit of the "grande epoque" of the Swiss hotel industry. Current management has been careful not to infringe on the hotel's lengthy history in any changes that modern-day convenience may require.
Many famous people stayed at Hotel des Trois Couronnes:
In 1859, four years after the death of her husband, Nicolai I, the Russian tsarina Alexandra Théodorowna spent several month at the hotel. During that winter she rented the entire hotel for her family, friends and staff.
July 21st, 1873 a gala dinner was hosted by the federal council and its president, Paul Ceresole from Vevey, for the shah of Persia, Naser’ed Din. He took part in this sumptuous dinner and found himself sitting vis-à-vis His Majesty the King of Holland, Willhelm III, who was staying in Vevey at that time.
Genoud stayed several months at Hotel des Trois Couronnes and composed the major part of his ‘Faust’ opera at the hotel. The pianists Camille Saint-Saëns and Ignacio Paderewski were both playing the piano in one of the salons of Hotel des Trois Couronnes in 1913. A picture of this unique concert still can be seen at the reception today.
Movie lovers will certainly remember the film ‘Daisy Miller’ with Cybill Shepard as a principal actress. Peter Bogdanovich realized and named this film after the bestseller, written by Henry James in 1879. For about three weeks certain scenes were realized at the hotel.
From 1937 until 1986 the hotel was owned and managed by the Herminjard family. After that the ‘Société de l’Hôtel des Trois Couronnes’ belonged to Mrs. Lilian von Kauffmann who sold again in 1999.
The Agha Khan celebrated his marriage to Mademoiselle Labrousse at the Trois Couronnes. Their signatures feature in the Golden Book of the establishment, together with others, chosen at random by leafing through the pages, such as: the musicians Alfred Cortot, Isaac Stern, Walter Gieseking, Yehudi Menuhin, Arthur Rubinstein, Mary Garden and Pablo Casals, men of letters like Somerset Maugham, Abel Bonard, Octave Mirabeau, Thomas Mann and André Maurois, great heads of industry and businessmen like King C. Gillette, the razor blade “king”, Pierpoint Morgan and Georges Baldwin from Boston, the former attorney-at-law who lived in the hotel for ten years.
The very name of Trois Couronnes is justified by the number of crowned heads who stayed in this establishment. Her Majesty Queen Olga of Greece, Maharajah Holkar of Indore, King William III of the Netherlands, to say nothing of the highnesses, duchesses and princes of great lines, including Princess Marie-Louise of England, whose presence enhanced the renown of this hotel.
Prominently situated on the shore of Lake Geneva, the building is now designated as “historic hotel”. Its interior particularly the huge atrium and the imposing Camille de Saint-Saëns room (dating from 1890) with its 12 original marble columns, is even more magnificent than its exterior.
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