In Geneva, on the right bank of the River Rhone, opposite to that beautiful little piece of land named Rousseau's Island (in honor of the great Genevan writer), stands the Hotel Les Bergues. It is among the oldest purpose built grand hotels in the world - a remarkable icon of European hospitality.
In local history the site of the hostelry and its rise are still subjects of articles by the feuilletonistes in this ancient city on the lake. Near to it, the noble river Rhone enters Lake Geneva. A writer in the Journal de Geneve, in 1919, gave a long and rather lucid account of the origin of the name Les Bergues, of which it seems even well-informed Genevans were in ignorance. (you find this account under HISTORY).
The name “des Bergues” has the kind of pedigree that no one would willingly give up. Its originates with a German merchant and financier called Johannes Kleberger (1486-1546). Though frequently on his travels, Herr Kleberger owned several properties in Geneva, including one on this section of quayside where Lake Geneva funnels into the Rhone river as it passes the old hilltop city. A friend of Erasmus, Hans Kleberger had his portrait painted Albrecht Dürer and you can see it today hung in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum.
This is from a report about Swiss Hospitality, dated 1919:
In local history the site of the hostelry and its rise are still subjects of articles by the feuilletonistes in this ancient city on the lake. At this point, or very near to it, the noble Rhone enters Lake Geneva. A writer in the Journal de Geneve, in 1919, gave a long and rather lucid account of the origin of the name Les Bergues, of which it seems even well-informed Genevans were in ignorance. As it has a connection with the hotel so named, it may be briefly recounted. Early in the seventeenth century a certain generous and well-liked citizen, Jean Kleberger, known affectionately as le Bon Allemande, owned and occupied a mansion and extensive gardens on the bank of the Rhone. He was constantly engaged in deeds of generosity, charity and benevolence, and in his honor, when the street along his property was widened and extended, the plan of 1726 alluded to it as "les Cle Bergue"; rather a play upon his name, or perhaps in ignorance of how the owner of the name spelled it. Once a citizen who had a mill near-by got into some difficulties with his community. Kleberger was in a position to bring suit against the mill owner which, if carried to the court of Syndics, would have brought about the condemnation of the defendant. He refrained, however, and the mill owner not only was saved but the town was able to develop one of its industries—the production of wall-papers. The industry decayed later, and by the year 1827 had disappeared from Geneva. In that year a Societe des Bergues was formed to take over the buildings of the defunct wall-paper factory and erect a hotel on the site. This was brought about, and Les Bergues was the result.
A few years ago the façade of the hotel was entirely remodelled with care to preserve the Genevan character of its architecture. The house has been made even more historic by the character of many of its guests in its long career. These include the royalty and nobility of Europe and, of course, some of the foremost names in statecraft, literature and art. The Golden Book of the hotel goes back only to 1861, but since that time there have been entertained many German princes, dukes and counts, and their wives. Ludwig, King of Bavaria, was a visitor in 1862, when there also registered Frederick Wilhelm, afterwards the German Emperor, and his consort, Victoria, Crown Princess and Princess Royal of Great Britain, etc. ; the Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VIII. Others of royalty who came in later years were the Grand Duchess Marie, later Empress of Russia; Queen Louise, of Denmark, Marie of Savoy, Queen of Portugal; Queen Emma of Hawaii; Christian, King of Denmark; and King George of Hanover. More recently the hotel has entertained M. Thiers, of France; Prince Albassi Bey and Prince Mohammed Bey, sons of the Khedive of Egypt; King Alexander of Serbia; Sven Hedin; King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, of Rumania; the Crown Prince Yugala of Siam; General Joffre; Austin Chamberlain, and the ministers, Herriot, Briand, Theunis and Venizelos.
Mr. Bailly de Lalonde - French writer François-René & Céleste Chateaubriand - French writer and politician The Emperor François-Joseph The Emperor Elizabeth The Prince of Wales, futur Edouard VII The Emperor Victoria d'Allemagne The King Léopold 1er de Belgique The Queen Wilhelmine and the royal Family of Danmark Persian Shah Nasr ed-Din Aristide Briand Jean Cocteau Edith Piaf Sophia Loren Marechal Joffre Aga Khan
Restaurant Le Pavillon-deluxe coffee shop Restaurant L´Amphitryon-gastronomical cuisine Le Bar-piano bar serving light luncheon at midday