I stayed at La Cour des Augustins in Geneva three times this week. There are three resulting blog entries:

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that I stayed in three different classes of rooms—the Loft room (super deluxe), a junior suite (deluxe), and a standard room. Needless to say the price differs radically between the three rooms! And guess what, so do the perks.

Three variations of chocolate come with your room grade.

The three chocolates left in each of the rooms say it all. When you stay in the loft, you get a box of swiss chocolate and a personal note from management. When you are in a junior suite, you get a candy-bar type of chocolate and a note printed on a computer (with your name on it). When you are in a standard room, you get a pillow chocolate and a generic “dear guest” note. Very interesting.

The Loft room is truly fantastic and was a good base of operations for jet lag avoidance on Monday, so I am glad I stayed there. The junior suite was not worth the money they are asking for it. The standard room was fine and way cheaper than the other two rooms.

In the US, hotel management would have had some idea that I was up to something fishy with this room class experiment. (Their computers would have told them.) In fact, in many of the hotels I stay in regularly, the management has figured out who I am and knows all about this blog. It’s nice to be recognized and spoiled. (Thanks Kimpton people!)

In Europe, nobody ever knows that I have stayed somewhere before. So they can’t even pretend to welcome me back. (Just for the record, I am OK with pretending based on CRM software.) In this case, what transpired was quote striking. After I wrote a blog entry in March about La Cour des Augustins, I got an email response from Jérôme CIVET. He liked my feedback and said, “You could benefit from an Upgrade according to our availability.” But guess what? Neither Jerome or anybody else noticed my experimental plummet in levels this week or even tried to do anything about it. I did get offered to upgrade to a junior suite on Friday, but only if I paid the price difference. In the states, that would have been seen to automatically.

Anyway, I found this interesting enough to remark about. Capitalism is alive and well in Geneva! Land of the private bankers.

The trip from Poznan, Poland after my talk was touch and go. Starting things off right, I got to the tiny airport way too early (and was just as promptly unable to find net).

Security was ridiculous. They made me unpack all of the cords in my computer bag. (There’s a first time for everything.)

After we boarded on time, we took off for Munich where I was somehow supposed to change planes in 40 minutes. I hesitated to check my bag through to Geneva because I was concerned that it would not make the transfer with such a short connection time. Anyway, we were delayed by tons of air traffic over Munich coming in all at the same time, and ended up stacked about 10 deep to land. That added a good 15 minutes to the trip. Then there was the bus to the terminal and another bus right back to the hinterlands where I started! (It really would have been easier to walk…though a far sight more dangerous.) Miraculously, I made it to the Geneva plane by the skin of my teeth…and lo and behold…so did my bag!

I guess the best part of all the travel rigamarole was that I was served an actually very good dinner on the plane to Geneva (Lufthansa business class City Line). Sushi grade tuna with delicious soy/sesame dressing and another plate of German sausage. Wow. I hope that is the start of a worldwide trend in non-sucky airplane food.

I finally arrived at La Cour des Augustins again just after 11pm. The friendly guy at the front desk had no idea that I had already stayed there twice that week! I checked into my tiny room (which had a slight swamp gas odor from the drains). It was nice enough, but certainly euro-sized.

The bed room is well named---mostly bed.

The bathroom was tiny but versatile with an interesting non-plastic shower pod.

Shower cubicle. Definitely needs a better shower head, and some work on the drains.

The rest of the bathroom could very likely fit in the shower.

By far the best part of my ridiculous run back through Geneva happened again with Simon on the mixology front. After an aborted attempt to visit some bar full of loud music and young hipsters, we promptly left and headed right around the corner to Le Richemond. It was a great call.

Pierre and Andrea man a fairly complete bar with gusto. I taught them to make a Corpse Reviver #2. And they made a bunch of experimental beverages for us in return. The best one Pierre made is the:
1 oz gin
1 oz dry martini vermouth
1 oz sweet vermouth
1/3 oz Red Currant Liqueur (the stuff that goes in a Kir Royale)

Stir over rocks and serve in a collins glass. Bonus points for cube-shaped ice.

At 2am we made a plan to meet at Kempinsky for breakfast at 8am the next morning. Needless to say, that plan never happened. Great night though.

United’s 767 entertainment system failed on the way home from Geneva right at takeoff. You go United. 9 hours in the air with no electricity for the laptop, no movies, and no map. Business class pod? Not by a long shot. Boy does United airlines suck in 2011.

Bottom line on room 302 at the hotel is four shower heads. Needs some work.

I was just here on Monday…and now I am back. The staff is still friendly and great.

Room 108 is a junior suite. It is nowhere near as cool as 401, and the shower is nothing to write home about. Bottom line: junior suites here are not worth the money.

Though this shower has a window looking down on the street (interesting in the morning), it is not a memorable shower.

Does this showerhead suck? Yes it does.

Eyes to the right: the living room portion of 108 is comfortable.

Eyes to the left. The bed is nicely sized, but not very comfortable.

Room 108 is noisy in the morning (especially when the room next door has a small child in it). Since it is situated directly across from a bar, my bet is that weekend nights can be bothersome as well. Avoid this room if you stay here.

All in all, the style level in the room does not even begin to approximate the loft. Here is an example.

The closet, ironing board storage, safe, too short to hang a coat area. Blech.

I get to come back Friday nihght late after my quick trip to Poznan, Poland. Hold the line for more data from an even smaller room!

Things are much superior on the mixology front today in Geneva. My friend Simon (who earlier introduced me to the Mo Bar) brought me this time to L’Atelier Cocktail Club. Ali and Christophe mixed some very memorable drinks, including a Liberal complete with real Amer Picon. Though this bar is very small and they are still building their collection, it is clear that both Ali and Christophe are passionate about mixology and quite knowledgable. They are ahead of their time for this sector of the world.

Ali mixed me up a Manhattan derivative with bourbon, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters. I believe he called it a Martinique. Anyway, very nice.

Christophe mixed up one of my favorite rum concoctions (a Nevada) for Simon:
2 oz rum (I like to use My Gay Eclipse)
2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1 oz fresh lime juice
2 t simple syrup (this is essential)
dash of Angustora bitters

Shake over ice. Serve up in a cocktail glass with a rightside up lime wedge.

Amer Picon. Impossible to get in the States and available most anywhere in France.

Speaking of Amer Picon Simon brought me an actual bottle for my collection. Wow! I can’t wait to get this home. He also procured a bottle of Swiss Absinthe for me. Thanks Simon, you rock.

And more mixology data from Ali, who recommends these bars in Paris. Note that I have not been to any of these places (yet) so your mileage may vary:
Plaza Athene (ave montaigne)
Forum (bd. Malheserbe)
Experimental Cocktail Club (rue st sauveur)
Mojito Cab (Rue Keler)

I am supremely pleased that my company has a sizable and growing European presence (based in London and Amsterdam). This go ’round they surely led me astray though. I was supposed to be in Europe for an EU meeting at the end of the week in Poznon, Poland (about more which later). The beginning of the week was meant to include some work in Geneva. So here I am, and no work people in sight.

I set up my trip with Geneva as the hub, and by the time Geneva was scratched off it was too late and too expensive to change it around. That means I am doing something truly crazy: flying from Geneva to Helsinki tomorrow, back Wednesday, to Poland Thursday, and back out through Geneva Friday/Saturday. I am pretty sure I don’t really need the frequent flyer miles!

At least the trip out was comfortable this time and I got a bit of sleep. Today’s mission, after checking in to a gorgeous room that was ready for me WAY WAY early at La Cour des Augustins was to take a shower and then attempt to stay up as late as possible. Looks like that might end up being 7:30PM given the droopiness of my eyelids.

I stayed here last March when I got a tour of CERN during a fantastic week that included aerobatics over Heidelberg. Thanks to cosmogirl for finding this place!

The staff is truly wonderful and helpful. I also posted some pictures of room 401 when I was here last time. This is one of the two symmetrical loft rooms. I splurged on the fancy room this time since I was going to spend all day hanging out. Here are some new pictures.

401 is all one big room with a slated ceiling. The bathroom is built right into the room and separated from the bed by some bamboo poles painted white.

The shower is in an open design bathroom with very cool tiles. Euro-shower.

Two of the quirky features that make this room special.

Hanging lucite chair. Yes indeedy.

The plant/art on this table (which holds a personal note, sparking water, and swiss chocolate) is extremely cool.

The weather was overcast when I arrived, but by the late afternoon it turned pretty. The Cathedral is well worth a visit, especially the archeological site underneath. Amazing that it all started with a burial place for a chieftain.

A view from the cathedral tower overlooks the famous Geneva water jet.

I will be back at this five showerhead hotel on Wednesday and Friday (in different rooms both nights). Staying here is a pleasure.

After Heidelberg, I was off to Switzerland (and France) through Munich. This involved a very early breakfast with Markus, a drive to Mannheim, and a longish train ride.

Our meetings in Munich had a perfect Spring day as a setting with hundreds of crocuses blooming and forsythia bushes bursting in firecracker sparkles. But we were not long in Munich before it was time to catch a flight to Geneva.

In Geneva we made a very small pit stop by the hip boutique La Cour des Augustins to drop off our stuff and check in. There was just enough time for me to poke my head into room 401, the incredibly cool loft suite discovered by our very own cosmogirl. The proprietors’ attention to detail and welcoming style is very nice. They left me a note and some Swiss chocolate. The sparkling water (!) was free…as it should be. Then it was off to a memorable dinner at the Michelin star Restaurant Le Vallon, which, frankly was not worth the money. It’s a good thing the company was so much fun.

By the time we finished dinner and headed out in search of a drink, it was getting late and the place we wanted to go (Salon de Theophile) was closed. We ended up at a small crappy bar nearby where I attempted to engineer a decent drink from their weak selection. At least the tall blond bartender was willing to play along.

Back to La Cour. Room 401 is built as a loft and has a very interesting ceiling in an open design. The Design Hotels group shares the same gestalt which is a bit on the sparse modern side for me, but it is an experience. Here are a couple of pictures of the room.

You’re here for the showers of course, and the bathroom unit built right into the loft did not disappoint. Typical Euro-shower with gorgeous black tiles and a bathtub so high that getting in and out is actually dangerous. When the window is open, the view from the shower is very quaint. Showers within sight of churches seems to be some kind of minor theme for this trip.

The next day was a two performance day. I hosted a workshop in the city and gave an invited talk at CERN. As a tit for tat, my excellent host Stefan gave three of us an extensive three hour VIP tour of the facilities. The tour was detailed and extremely informative (nothing like a physicist to get things straight).

All of the big money going into CERN is spent on the accelerators resulting in some dilapidated-looking Star-Wars-esque scenes between incredibly expensive machines running at 1.6 Kelvin and 4+Tev. Higgs boson here we come.  Here is a picture of the control room…we were in it.

After the superb evening at CERN, we went to the beautiful and trendy Mo Bar, situated inside a 5 star hotel.  BTW, thanks for the mixology pointers Simon! Mo is a great bar with a superb (but Euro-limited) selection of drinks. I taught them to make a Liberal (with orange bitters in the house) and a Corpse Reviver #2. Great mixology in Geneva!

All in all the travel experience in Geneva was awesome. When we left very early the next morning, La Cour provided croissants and coffee at 5 in the morning (they knew we were off to London early). What a great staff! Five showerheads and a place high on the list of hotels where I hope to spend more time for La Cour.