The Hotel Masson is an absolute gem - it takes you back to a different era away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Location - about 40 mins walk from Montreux centre, but 5 mins walk down a steep hill brings you to the nearest trolley bus stop (Bonivard). Buses run every 10 mins, and take about 10 mins to Montreux station/centre. We rode it all the way to Villeneuve (about 10 mins the other way), and right to the end of the route at Vevey (about 40 mins long the lake side). And the cost? NOTHING!! Any hotel guest gets given a Montreux Riviera card giving them free transport in the region - not just on the buses, but on the trains, including funicular and mountain railways as well. And the region it covers is quite extensive! For instance, to go from the hotel to Montreux station, then on the mountain railway up to Rochers de Naye (about an hour from Montreux) cost just 25CHF using the Riviera card. Without it, using the half fare Swiss card we had supplied by Inghams, it would have been 33CHF per person (Inghams - please take note of this.....our rep didn't know this until we told him, and he'd worked there for 2 years!!). And with no card at all it would have been 66CHF. Some days we spent no money on transport at all.
Chateau de Chillon (a must see) is 10 mins walk from the hotel - once you are down the hill, the whole way from Vevey to Villeneuve is flat and (almost always - short section in Vevey excepted) along the beautiful lakeside. Boats and some trains stop at Chillon and Territet - both 10mins or so from the hotel.
We booked 2 rooms - one double and one single - half board package for 7 nights through tour operator Inghams (a word on them - transfers from Geneva Airport by direct train, met at Montreux station by the rep, and put in pre booked taxi to the hotel worked very smoothly indeed. Taxi arranged back to the station at the end as well.). Our 2 rooms (14 and 16) were on the 2nd floor (reception,dining room, lounge, terrace are all on the first floor) and overlooked the entrance to the hotel, which is on the side of the building. Some lake glimpses, particularly from the single room (16) which had its own balcony. Near the motorway, which is raised along the hillside, but the noise was not off putting at all.
Rooms - very old fashioned decor, which may not appeal to some, but I thought really added to the charm of the hotel. The double room was a decent size, 2 twin beds right next to each other, with a bathroom with bath tub and shower over. Minibar, safe (bizarrely inside the minibar!), small old style wall mounted TV and old style radio. Single room had a decent sized single bed, large wardrobe, desk, chest, chair, armchair....almost too much furniture for a smallish room. Again a small TV mounted high (if you are tall, it may not have been high enough!!). Rather compact shower/wet room - I reckon you could shower, use the basin and toilet all at once if you wished!! One thing it lacked was a hook on the back of the door to hang clothes, otherwise it was more than adequate. Soap and liquid shower gel supplied. TV had usual European channels and BBC World News/CNN news etc. Managed to follow the Olympics on French/German Eurosport! No air-con or fan - and it was pretty hot when we were there - but I've yet to stay in a hotel in the Alps of Switz/Austria etc that has had air-con. As previously mentioned, the (free) Wifi was a bit patchy - but only on one day did I really struggle to connect. Some areas of hotel had better connectivity than others - router is on first floor outside office. But hey - this hotel clearly does not seek the business end of the market, and if you'd rather be on your iPad playing Angry Birds all day, stay at home!
Lounge - felt like being in an Agatha Christie novel sitting here! Nice terrace overlooking the garden - smoking allowed on terrace, balconies and in the garden. The garden was a decent size with plenty of loungers/chairs.
Dining room/meals - breakfast was a very good array of home cooked breads (delicious rolls!), about 6 types of home made jams (apple, quince....), cereal, yoghurt, fruit salad, cold meats, eggs, cheeses, juice. Decent standard coffee and tea.
Dinner (for our half board option) was a 4 course set menu - the menu was usually displayed (in French) at breakfast time, so I am sure you could mention if there was something you really didn't fancy, or if you needed a veggy option. Starters included salmon (cooked and smoked), melon, and Gruyeres cheese flan. Soup was a huge bowlful (with extras if desired!!) and was usually a creamed veg soup of some sort. Now for the main courses....these were served to you from the dishes at your table, again with extras if desired (but don't ever try and serve yourself - I reckon the waitress could've given Usain Bolt a run for his money the way she dashed over one night when we went to help ourselves!!) Quality was superb - chicken (twice), beef, veal, sole, lamb and duck were served during our week, with a different style of potato/pasta/veg to accompany each night. Desserts were a work of art, and included apricot tart, pear, chocolate mille feuille, sorbet....... You certainly will not go hungry at the Masson!
Staff - the owner and senior staff (think they were also family members) all spoke great English - one night I heard the owner introduce the dinner menu to various diners in French, English, German and Italian! Yes, the waitresses did not speak English (as mentioned in a previous review), but if there was every any uncertainty they immediately said "un moment, s'il vous plait" and rushed to fetch Madame to help. And they really had a good sense of humour which came over even if you weren't speaking the same language. During the time we were there they were dealing with people from Asia, Spain, England, Italy, Switzerland, France and Germany with no trouble whatsoever. Wine was fairly expensive (about 40CHF plus a bottle), but there was free tap water supplied automatically each night. And you could save part of a bottle over more than one night if you wished. The hotel does not have a separate bar area.
On our last day, when we had checked out and were waiting outside for our taxi, Madame rushed out to say goodbye in person, worried that she had missed us - to me, that says it all about the level of personal service you get at the Masson.
I would certainly recommend it to those who like old fashioned hospitality, great food, and being attended to in a way that you rarely encounter today.
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