I spent 10 nights here in July on a mix of business and leisure. The hotel is a gem among the top properties in Lucerne, does a lot of things well on the accommodation, service and culinary sides and deserves its generally positive guest reviews. In terms of positioning, the Hermitage offers a much more intimate and quietly refined setting at the waterfront and on the edge of town than its down-town competitors at the bustling lake-side boulevard.
But, the hotel competition in Lucerne is stiff, and the Hermitage also revealed a number of unpolished sides ranging from the blatant and seriously annoying to the more banal. This review here then is not so much to sing the praises of this overall well-run property, but to offer improvement suggestions for the hotel to take into consideration and the benefit of future customers.
Room 321 was my home away from home for the entire duration, and this is located in the hotel’s new wing. Upon check-in, I lugged all my things to the room, across the lobby, down the stairs and some bit on only to arrive at the door and have my key card not work. At this point, I am silently screaming inside. So much for 1st impressions, and back to the reception we go for round 2. Key cards occasionally not working is annoying enough in itself. What was royally annoying though about the Hermitage is that the key cards they use are not inserted in the door, but waved in front of the lock. This is a very fiddly system, and it always took numerous swipes and trying different angles and ways of holding the key card until it finally unlocked. The key card and lock technology used just seems really unrefined and clumsy.
Upon entering the room for the 1st time and each day thereafter when returning to the hotel in the evening from work or having been about the town, I was greeted by a wall of heat, literally. It was the middle of summer after all and many days were around the 30 degree C mark. How could this happen? The room, while spacious, modern and clean, offered neither air-conditioning - nor heating for that matter - despite being located to the South-East side, with a stunning view of lake and mountain range, but also with the sun burning down on the large window surface area much of the day. It often felt like an oven in there, and it boggles my mind how a modern-day hotel fails to install a proper airco system.
Evidently, I immediately opened the windows to get some fresh air circulating, lowered the blinds to keep the sun from beating down into the room and called reception. Their solution? A little, cheap, plastic fan in the room’s closet, which then ran every day all day from day 1 of my stay. How pathetic! This is not at all in line with the otherwise upper-class positioning of this hotel, and I can’t help but wonder which ‘brain’ is responsible for this gaping shortcoming. Also, regarding the electric blinders, these repeatedly raised or lowered without my consent as though someone else, or some electronic automated controller, was controlling these. I did not appreciate that at all. If I want them down, up or something else, then that is exactly how I want them…stop interfering!
On the culinary side, I really enjoyed a lot of my meals at the restaurant, both breakfast and dinner. Ingredient quality is top as are many of the dishes. After 10 days, I ate just about everything on their menu and was rarely disappointed. What became apparent though is that they seem to have an issue with keeping foods that require cooling sufficiently cool. Each morning at breakfast they served a freshly made fruit puree ‘welcome drink’. A nice and tasty touch. Each evening meal would be accompanied by different types of fresh bread sticks with different cream cheeses, butter and an olive tapenade. In both cases, the temperatures of welcome drinks and evening accoutrements ranged from slightly frozen to clearly warm. Understandably and especially in warm summer temperatures, I strongly prefer properly chilled foods and particularly ones of a quickly perishing nature. Why this wide range of temperatures of these dishes? This should not happen in a professional kitchen. A minor niggle here is that while taste experiences remained consistently good, the aesthetic presentation of identical dishes varied substantially across the days. Clearly, there is a variation of capability and quality here in kitchen staff.
Whether on weekdays or weekends, I usually had my breakfast as soon as they officially opened the doors to the breakfast area. On 5 days, so 50% of the time, the scrambled eggs were not yet ready, not even 15 minutes after I arrived. If you are going to charge ca. 20€ (26 USD) for breakfast, then you should damn well also do your job right and provide the full service from minute 1. In each case I asked for scrambled eggs and got these especially made, and better tasting than the mass produced egg mass they otherwise serve. Nonetheless, this is an inefficient way of working and a mild inconvenience for a guest. Another minor niggle is also that they would do well to clean their chairs in the entire dining area. I sat at places across the entire outside patio area and in most cases got to clean off the crumbs and debris left by those before me as a parting gift. No Thank You! Another issue I noted is that speed of service varied tremendously from very fast, including delivery of foods, to me being seated and then waiting there for up to 5 minutes before someone would ‘make contact’…and this was in the early evening hours, when the place was not even at 30% capacity.
The fitness section in the hotel’s wellness area is a joke, and a really bad one at that. The equipment is 2nd rate, home-trainer quality cardio material, packed together in a tiny space and with no weight equipment worthy of any note. Whoever put this space together either had a very limited budget and / or a very limited understanding – I am actually leaning more in the direction of gross incompetence on this count - of what a modern-day fitness area of good hotels looks like. If you are a fitness buff then don’t even bother going to that part of the hotel, you’ll sink into instant depression. I instead used a professional fitness club about a 10 minute drive from the hotel. This could also be an alternative for the hotel to offer. As they clearly lack capability here, why not do what other hotels do and make an arrangement with a local service provider specialized in that area.
Final niggles. They have beautiful, shape-cut trees along the entire water-front…which were in desperate need of a good trimming. Most other parts of the hotel and grounds are well maintained and clean, so to paraphrase a saying they are ‘missing the trees for the forest’. A recurring theme was also one of noise pollution. Sound carries a far distance over the lake and also across the hotel grounds depending on wind direction in particular. A lot of times, I would hear the boom, boom, boom of music coming from several of the lake-side events taking place even miles down the road. This is not something the hotel can really influence, and one does have the choice of closing the windows and then slowly cooking from the heat, which eventually would then also end the noise issue.
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- Also Known As:
- Seehotel Hermitage Luzern Lucerne