Hotel Wilden Mann, Lucerne, SwitzerlandPersonal preference is a funny thing. What makes one hotel beat expectations, and another perfectly fine establishment, not quite make the grade?

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary at the Hotel Wilden Mann in Lucerne, and thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. Reflecting on the best hotel experiences I’ve had on several continents, I’ve come up with what I value most in a place to stay, no matter where I go.

1.  Historical significance

The Wilden Mann is named after the character of legend, a giant clothed in leaves and branches, who protected the city in olden times.

Not every hotel has a grand place in history, but if there’s a story to be told, I want to know it. The Wilden Mann has such a story: its Burgerstube is the oldest restaurant in Lucerne, the very first eating establishment inside the protection of city walls. It is popular with locals, who get together regularly for a meal or a drink at a Stammtisch. Family crests adorn the walls, and the place is cozy. It is easy to imagine how welcoming that must have seemed way back when.

2.  Interesting architecture

This one can be taken in just about any direction, from a cave dwelling to a boat to a futuristic skyscraper.

The Wilden Mann’s architecture is quirky and creative in a homespun sort of way. Its single structure was artfully crafted from seven separate buildings over the last couple of centuries or so.
Staircases serve the several buildings that make up the hotel, each one a bit different in design.

The elevator from Reception to the floors above was installed in a former chimney shaft; and one thick wall of the formal dining room wall curves the way it does because it is part of the original city wall.

3.  Exceptional service

Here, I’m looking for a personal touch, sincere interest in a guest’s happiness. It’s an added bonus when hotel staff share local customs with me.

The staff at Wilden Mann provided superb service, from the trainee who greeted us in the Stube, to the chef who made a stunning substitution for a dish on the autumn menu, to servers who explained how dishes were prepared (such as my first Servietteknödel, or “napkin dumpling”).

Everyone at Wilden Mann was friendly and welcoming and eager to make our stay just that much better. Who wouldn’t enjoy such personalized service?

4.  Food to die for

I am forever on the lookout for my next best meal. To my delight, we had two of them at the Wilden Mann in 24 hours.

Our four-course seasonal menu featured complex flavors, perfectly balanced and beautifully presented.

Chef Simon Oehen serves up traditional dishes, updated for a modern palate; and our server recommended just the right wine to pair with both fish and meat. The next day, for lunch in the Stube, we shared an enormous portion of Chϋgeli pastetli, the traditional dish of Lucerne. The pastry was flaky and the veal and mushroom goodness inside provided just the right touch for a chilly day.

Fish, game, pastry, sweets—every dish in both restaurants, perfectly choreographed!

5.  A memorable experience, befitting the hotel’s conception and environment

This is another of those wide-open categories, basically how well it all comes together.

There are special touches throughout, such as walls patterned in silk. Above all, the Wilden Mann is a home in the heart of Lucerne’s old town. The owners have collected furnishings from all over and continually decorate and refresh the guest rooms.
We enjoyed having a cozy home base from which to explore the town, and to return to for rest and a good meal.

Along with the first four items on my list, the owners’ intention to treat their guests as visitors to their home was beautifully executed.

I was delighted that my impressions from a stay here a few years ago were still spot on. The Hotel Wilden Mann is well worth visiting for an overnight stay or a meal. It’s an opportunity to take a time out, sit back and savor old-fashioned comforts—with a modern twist. Thanks to the mix of tradition and flair we experienced at the Wilden Mann last month, I could tick off all of my key criteria for hotel love.

What makes or breaks a hotel stay for you?

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Our stay at the Wilden Mann was sponsored by the Lucerne Tourist Board. However, the opinions here are entirely my own!

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    • Thank you, Nicole! Yes, we loved the place. It’s marvelously situated, too, just a minute’s walk from the historic Tower Bridge over the River Reuss.


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