In a landscape defined by tracks, trains and trams, cranes off-load the heavy stuff while trucks bring in more pallets of construction materials. This is District 5, Zurich’s burgeoning ex-industrial zone, where for the past decade companies have been setting up their Swiss headquarters in shiny new towers, squeezed between massive car repair shops and older houses along an old viaduct.
District 5 is now a trendy area where modern housing, shops and businesses are popping up daily, with bars, restaurants and art galleries mixed in among the new developments. It is also where the new 25hours Hotel has just opened, tucked into a sleek, square black building marked with a large white logo, confirming that you have the right address, although everything around looks in the making or rather corporate.
Heading inside, you come across the first signs of creativity: a ping-pong table and, beyond it, a glass door with a turned wooden handle. Push it to enter the lobby, and discover a world of colours, patterns and materials, where guests lounge in large, vibrant chairs, check in at the reception desk or buy design souvenirs from the tiny corner shop while fashionable young staffers strut about.
This hotel in West Zurich is like no other in the fledgling 25hours chain, now with six operational and a seventh planned to open in Berlin this year. In keeping with the chain’s motto, “You know one, you know none,” renowned local designer Alfredo Häberli made sure the Swiss location would stand out. It took his studio three years to complete – its largest interior design project to date – and involved a long list of world-class manufacturers.
The result is an environment where every detail displays the vibrant, expressive signature of the Argentine-born Häberli. In collaboration with such prominent brands as Alias, FSB, Hay, Kvadrat, and Moroso, over 60 products were developed or designed for the hotel – from furniture to fabrics, spoons and door handles. These, alongside Häberli’s production pieces and classics by Vitra and Iittala, combine to create an atmosphere of relaxed comfort. And this is the feeling you have upon entering one of the 126 rooms, decorated in soft tones of green, brown and blue, energized by the vivid hues of a few small wall graphics, and custom-designed carpets made by Tai Ping.
But the 25hours Hotel is not just a design showcase; it had to have character. This element Häberli took from the city itself, the hotel’s true inspiration. It starts in the lobby, a multi-faceted open space that abounds with references to Häberli’s adopted home. From the coinlike pieces embedded in the flooring; to the models of local landmarks randomly displayed on tables; to the mirrors hanging in the restaurant, shaped like the city’s five iconic islands – everything points to Zurich. The references don’t stop here. They extend to the rooms and their categories, ranging from silver to gold and platinum, a sly allusion to the Swiss financial capital. “The theme of the hotel is ‘Zurich my sweet hometown.’ Throughout the building, you will find a three-dimensional city guide of Zurich,” the designer attests.
In the lobby, a colossal central staircase leads up one floor to event and conference
rooms, including a Bulthaup- and Miele-equipped kitchen space for events and cooking classes. The L-shaped bar serves as an inviting space to enjoy breakfast, a light lunch, drinks or chats with friends, while colourful niches encircling the staircase provide more private spots for work or relaxation. These are godsends in a public area that typically offers few options other than the front desk or the front door. “The goal was to give the hotel a soul,” says Häberli – and this aim is undeniably reached here, confirming that District 5 is not only up and coming but very much happening now.
IF YOU GO
What to see and do
If there’s snow, don’t miss sledding on the 869-metre-high Üetliberg, which on a clear day offers a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding Alps. Catch the S10 train from Zurich’s main station to Üetliberg, where sleds are available for hire. zvv.ch
Also de rigueur is a visit to the Centre Le Corbusier (Bellerivestrasse, District 8), a house
commissioned by art collector Heidi Weber, and the Swiss architect’s last building before he died in 1965. It houses books, art pieces and writings by the modernist master. lecorbusier-center.com
Where to shop
Freitag, the global brand known for its truck tarp bags, was born here in Zurich, in 1993. So what could be better than purchasing one from its shop (Geroldstrasse 17, near Hardbrücke railway station), which is housed in a shipping container tower in District 5? freitag.ch
Nestled in a converted garage, the newly opened Times (Gasometerstrasse 7 ) is a perfect combination: a bar-restaurant that also sells cool objects. The owners started with a stock of attractive antiques, then moved on to a mix of desirable international brands, from Astier de Villatte to Meier Bruecher and 8 Eden Avenue, among others. Expect traditional food with an Italian twist. times-zurich.com
Where to eat
It took less than a year for Clouds (Maagplatz 5) to be named the most in-demand restaurant in Zurich. Although the months-long wait for a reservation can be a tad off-putting, it’s worth the patience and effort: the newly awarded single Michelin star restaurant delivers food to match the fabulous view over the city. clouds.ch
→ Rooms from $190 per night. 25hours‑hotels.com