Switzerland's Hotel Palafitte lays claim to an unusual distinction: it is the only hotel in Europe built on stilits -- an architectural detail more commonly associated with the Indian and Pacific oceans. More than mere novelty, the stilts are an architectural design meant to enhance the surrounding views. The luxury boutique property, a member of Preferred Hotel Group, was built as part of Switzerland's 2002 National Exposition and consists of 40 spacious private bungalows, twenty-six of which are called “Lake Pavilions” and situated lakeside and built directly over Lake Neuchâtel in Romandie, the French-speaking area in western Switzerland.
Each Lake Pavilion features a separate bedroom, a bathroom with movable partitions that allow a view of the lake from the bathtub, and a large terrace that affords unobstructed views of the lake with only the Alps to block the horizon. Guests have direct access to the lake via a small ladder accessible from their private terrace.
Although the idyllic setting may give the impression of off-the-grid remoteness, the hotel is surprisingly high-tech: guest suite doors are unlocked using fingerprint scans rather than room keys, and in-room tablets control everything from the lighting to the entertainment system. The hotel features a large, newly renovated, lobby with a fireplace, a bar, and a restaurant with a large terrace, and nearby activities including biking and walking. The hotel is a 20-minute drive from the capital, Bern and around two hours from Zurich. Late September rates start at $404 per night and special offers, including complimentary breakfasts, are available for iPrefer members.