A Journey through time, ending in 1927. A Travel Report takes us back to the roots of grand Swiss Hospitality. The alpine climate produced a remarkable set of “Grand Hotels”, such as the Grand Hotel in Interlaken (above).
Swiss hospitality in the 19th century
(article written in 1927)
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Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Pontresina; opened in 1851 as a three bedroom inn "Krone-Post".
Milestones of Swiss Hospitality
Switzerland became the holiday playground of Europe in the mid of the nineteenth century, and as a consequence its hotels began to attract the attention of the rest of the world, or so much of it as was interested in travel for recreation.
The Alpenpost - the mail coach - was the only means of public transport in the mountains during the 19th century.
Traveller's did not arrive for the sex-appeal of its cities - neither Geneva nor Zurich, neither Bern nor Basle were a match for London, Paris, Berlin or Vienna - but they flocked to the Swiss countryside (Luzerne, Lausanne, Vevey, ...) for its mountains, its crystal clear lakes and its unspoilt nature. Switzerland was a small country combinging all of the pictureseque sceneries that can be found all over europe - yet to be discovered, a white spot, a secret with the advantage of being situated conveniently between Paris and Milan.
The Swiss hotelkeepers of that period may be said to have invented the resort hotel, with all that term implies, including conveniences and aids to tourists. The country comprises within its boundaries nearly all. The advent of railroads and their rapid multiplication gave the means of easy access and the Swiss hotel proprietor did the rest.
Many of the hotels in Switzerland trace their history back for several centuries through occupancy of buildings that were built in the long-ago.
For this and other reasons it is not easy to assign them to a chronological period here, but those referred to in this chapter may, without too great distortion of fact, be assigned to the nineteenth century, although in each instance the house has been modernized and the hotels are in tune with the present day. However, their history as hotels seems to belong more to the preceding century than to any other. Fanny Kemble, actress, dramatic reader and author of plays, poems and entertaining books of letters and journals, was for many years before her death the greatest advocate Switzerland as a summer resort had in this country. In her volume of "Further Records," made up entirely of her letters written to friends and family in England and in the United States, she gives many clear-cut and vivid impressions of the land of mountains and lakes. It should be remembered that these letters were written chiefly during the seventies of the preceding century.
"Am now looking over the Lake of Geneva, at its lower end, where the Dent du Midi and the mountains of the Rhone Valley form such a splendid group above and beyond Villeneuve," Mrs. Kemble wrote from Territet Montreux, in 1878; "I think you must have stopped at Villeneuve, some time or other, going over the Simplon into Italy. There used to be a charming house there, the Hotel Byron, standing alone in its own grounds, quite at the end of the lake and just above the Chateau Chillon. "I always used to stay there on my way up and down the Rhone Valley. It was kept by two brothers of the name of Wolff, who were proprietors also of the good old-fashioned Hotel L'ecu de Geneve in Geneva. They having failed, and the person who took the Hotel Byron after them failed also, the pleasant house is now shut up, and I do not suppose it will ever be opened as an hotel again. "The railroad now runs all the way from Geneva to the foot of the Simplon, an easy journey of less than eight hours, and nobody wants to stop half way at Villeneuve.
"Then, too, there is really almost a continuous terrace all along the shore of the lake from Lausanne to Villeneuve of hotels like palaces, one more magnificent than another, with terraces and gardens, and fountains and bands of music, and such luxurious public apartments, and table d'hote, that it is absolutely impossible that some if not several proprietors of such costly establishments should fail to make them answer, especially as in travelling, as well as everything else, fashion directs the movements of the great majority of people, and for the last few years there has been a perfect insane rush of the whole tourist world to the valley of the Upper Engadine, to the almost utter forsaking of the formerly popular parts of Switzerland. "The house I am at, the Hotel des Alps, is a magnificent establishment, but there are very few people in it, and the manager seemed to me rather depressed in giving me an account of the failure of the proprietors of the Hotel Byron, and said there was not a corner of Switzerland now without a huge hotel, and that every year half a dozen hotel keepers become bankrupt." Mrs. Kemble was incorrect in her prophecy, for the Hotel Byron was reopened and is still in successful operation.
"The Hotel Byron at Villeneuve, near Montreux, is a rather old house, dating from some time before the year 1840. It was named in honor of the English poet, Lord Byron, who with the poet Shelly had visited Villeneuve, where Jean Jacques Rousseau had been long before them herborizing in the neighborhood, and where Napoleon had halted before he went to Marengo. Rudolphe Tôpffer, the author of "Genevese Tales," himself a native of Geneva, was a guest at the hotel about the time his Tales were published, 1840. Sainte-Beuve said of this now little known Swiss litterateur, that to read him is one of the sweetest, most winning, and healthiest of literary pleasures. About the same time the hotel had Franz Liszt as a sojourner, and with him was the Countess d'Agoult, whose pseudonym was "Daniel Stern," and who was the mother of Madame Cosima Wagner, wife of the composer. Victor Hugo with his family stopped at the Hotel Byron two years in succession. Edgar Quinet, the inspiring if not-too-well-informed French historian and poet; Elisée Reclus, the French popular scientist; and the French painter, Gustav Courbet, were more than once guests of the hotel, which also has entertained the Royal family of Greece; the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg; the Duke and Duchess of Braganca; the Count de Montgelas; Professor Nicolai; the novelist, Waldo Frank; Ossip Gabrilowitz, eminent pianist; Stefan Zweig, popular German novelist; Dr. Thomas Masaryk, first President of Czecho-Slovakia; the Indian poet, Dr. Rabindranath Tagore; and Lucas Mallet, the English novelist.
Hotel Baur au Lac, at Zurich, is not quite so old as the house just mentioned, but as it dates from the year 1844, it is more or less coeval with the beginning of the great hotel enterprises in Switzerland, which were typical of the nineteenth century. It was founded by and received its name from Johannes Baur, a baker's boy, whose father kept the Lion Inn in the town of Götzis, of which municipality the elder Baur was mayor. The son was intensely interested in architecture, and as he had great skill in drawing he began to design buildings when not engaged in the bakery. Some of his plans were pretentious and ambitious, and he soon found himself advising the builders of Zurich. Among his visions was that of a large hotel. At the same time an architect of the city, a Mr. Stadler, had been visioning a new thoroughfare, the present well-known Poststrasse. One of the property owners whose building was affected by the cutting of the new street was given a lot in exchange. He had to obligate himself to erect a building to harmonize with the architecture of the new post office opposite to his site. The result was the first Hotel Baur, which was opened simultaneously with the new post office in 1838, and on this auspicious occasion a banquet was given in the large hotel dining-room for the post office clerks and staff.
The Hotel Baur was then regarded as a monster, although it contained only 140 beds, but in 1843 the first of a series of enlargements, which continued at intervals for twenty years, was begun. Some of the site adjoining which had been secured was on the lake and filling in had to be resorted to. The result and the daring method of achieving it caused Baur's fellow townsmen to regard him as having been bereft of his common sense. When the improvements were completed it was seen that the hotel faced the lake while tradition to that time had demanded it should face the town, and the good citizens felt certain Baur was not properly balanced. By degrees it dawned on them that a valuable architectural work had been bestowed on Zurich, and they began to feel a pride in the great hotel.
In 1853 Johannes Baur purchased a manor at present on Lavaterstrasse, and enlarged it by grounds near the lake. This annex to the hotel was designed for princely patrons, who desired to maintain their incognito while in residence in Zurich. Additions to the hotel did not cease after the founder's death, but were continued until the last wing was built in 1890. In acknowledgment of their merits with regard to intercourse with foreigners, the city of Zurich endowed both Johannes Baur and his son and successor, Theodor Baur, with the right of citizenship in the year 1859.
Theodor Baur, the son, together with Mr. Tschurni, founded in Ouchy the first professional school for hotels in Ouchy-Lausanne. He also was the first to suggest the abolition of tips, but did not succeed in having his proposal accepted. He was the pioneer in the improvement of navigation of the lake, and in 1868 was instrumental in the introduction of concerts on the steamers.
The Hotel Baur au Lac was favored by the princely families of Europe. In 1852 the King of Sweden, with his family and suite, resided there under the title of Count of Tulgarn. Four years later the Duchess of Orleans was a guest, and in 1859 the - representatives of the European Powers met there at the Peace Congress and on November 10th signed the "Peace of Zurich" in the first drawing-room, now known as drawing-room 26. The Duchess of Parma and her suite were at the hotel the same year, and in the summer of 1860 royalty was almost constantly represented, for in succession came the King of Bavaria, the Empress of Russia, with two princesses and suite. The Austrian reigning family were frequently guests at the hotel and the Empress Elizabeth stopped there on her journey to southern countries.
There also have been entertained at Hotel Baur au Lac the Duke of Meiningen, the Khedive of Egypt, and the Princess of Wales, afterward Queen Alexandra. When, in 1889, Karl Kracht, son-in-law of Theodor Baur, took possession of the hotel the house received modem improvements, for Swiss hotels in general had begun their development from the old-fashioned methods to the newer order. Among other innovations which followed were the tea-concerts. This was a new idea in Swiss hoteldom. Karl Kracht engaged a troupe of lively Neapolitans to entertain. Mr. Kracht, who died in the year 1914, fell ill in 1910 and consequently he did not have the opportunity to manage the entertainment arranged at the Hotel Baur au Lac for Kaiser Wilhelm II, who visited there that year.
From 1870 to 1880 Theodor Baur managed the Quirinal Hotel in Rome in connection with the Baur au Lac, while Karl Kracht, himself the son of a hotelman, brought about the connection of the Hotel Ernst, in Cologne, with the Baur au Lac. The former since 1910 has been known as Excelsior Hotel. The Hotel Interlaken, in the city of Interlaken, which lies in the lowlands between the lakes of Thun and Brienz, is one of those typically Swiss hostelries whose history seems connected with the distant past. It stands on a site of a hotel which is believed to have been erected about 1491, or the year before Columbus discovered the New World.
It was built in front of the old monastery, which still exists as a structure although the community was suppressed in the sixteenth century. Part of the original structure of the hostel, which was conducted by the monks, remains. The old chronicles of the neighborhood connect the gasthaus, or monastery tavern, with many interesting legends and traditions. In 1551, it is said, Master Austabl, the Scharfrichter, or executioner, and his assistants had much work to do for the monastery, for four malefactors were condemned, two to death by the weights. All of them are said to have been assembled in the Gasthaus for their last meal. The hostel was rebuilt in 1759, and frequently since then modern features have been added to it and the hotel kept up to date. For four hundred years the same hotel has been in existence, originally under the domination of the monastery.
Lord Byron was a guest in 1816, and, the great composer, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, was likewise a visitor in the years 1842, 1846 and 1847. In the seventies of the nineteenth century three crowned heads were guests at the same time at the Hotel Monnet, at Vevey, on the Lake of Geneva. The unusual honor of having the sovereigns of three great states of Europe meet and stay together in his hotel, which lies on the shore of the lake, caused the proprietor to change his sign and since then the house has been known as Grand Hotel des Trois-Couronnes. These three monarchs were Emperor William I, of Germany; Emperor Francis Joseph, of Austria; and King Umberto, of Italy-the triple alliance, in person, it might be said. Dukes, princes, counts and other nobles have frequently been guests at the house since its foundation in 1842.
There is still to be seen over the fireplace in the ladies' room of the hotel a pair of beautiful Sevres vases, the gift of the Tsarina of Alexander I, of Russia, who once hired the whole hotel for her court nobles and guests. The hotel stands on a historic spot, for as early as the year 1090, according to the archives in the Chapter House of Lausanne, the Bishop of the City bequeathed to his nephew, Vaucher of Blonay, a "stronghold" in Vevey. This castle had its moats, draw-bridges, towers and battlements, and also served as Court of justice to the High Tribunal of the fiefs. In 1345, when the estate passed to the lords of St. Paul at Evian, it became known as the Chateau des Belles-Truches. It belonged to Bishop Aimon of Montfaucon in 1516, and this churchman sold it to the lords Gingins, who did not long retain it for the property passed to the possession of the town of Vevey in 1571. After becoming the property of the town, a club was formed for the exercise of fencing and shooting. Its members belonged to the best families in Vevey. The estate then became known as the Abbaye des Echarpes Jaunes.
In 1842 the old "stronghold" was removed and a hotel, at first named for its proprietor, Hotel Monnet, was built on the site. This later, as has been related, became the Grand Hotel des Trois-Couronnes. Hotel Krone (Crown) in Solothurn, Switzerland, which is situated opposite the Cathedral of St. Ours, claims to be the oldest hotel in that country. In the year 1411 it was already a tavern, and since that time has been developed, extended, and modernized. There was a Guild of Land-lords in Solothurn as early as the fourteenth century, and as the Crown is mentioned as the first inn with the right to accommodate travellers, it is believed that the inn has been where it now is for at least five hundred years. It had a favorable position on the main road, and even in the early Middle Ages the passage over the Aare was animated with the great convoys of merchandise and the stately retinues of nobles and gentlemen, for the town was on the chief highway between the Rhine and Geneva.
The old inn stands on the public square and in it, in the days long past, many events, including the holding of open-air courts of criminal procedure, were held there. Fetes were held by the French ambassadors on anniversaries of their sovereigns and dauphins, and the distinguished guests of the municipality on these occasions were always lodged at the Crown. While the Prince of Conde was going through the military school at Solothurn, in 1863, his father, the Duc d'Aumale, resided at the Crown. The great names that have been connected with the hostelry during its five centuries have never been compiled, but some of the eminent ones of more recent times are interesting. On November 23, 1797, while on his way from Italy to the Congress, in Rastadt, General Bonaparte, afterwards the Emperor Napoleon, stopped at the door of the Crown.
The local Government had arranged to give him a grand reception. Bonaparte, in his carriage, stopped before the inn long enough to hear the invitation, but he declined, and drove on to Rastadt. The Empress Josephine, however, did rest in the Crown on one of her journeys; and the list of modern monarchs who followed her is a fairly long one. The King of Wurttemberg was there in 1808; Frederick William III, King of Prussia; the Queen of Naples, in 1837; the Queen of Holland, in the forties of the last century; the Archducal families of Mecklenburg—Schwerin and Mecklenburg—Strelitz, in 1841 and 1842 respectively; in the fifties and sixties of the same century there were the Queen of Holland, the King of Portugal, the King of Wurttemberg; archdukes, princes and princesses innumerable. The Dowager-Empress of Russia was a frequent guest; the Prince of Wales, afterward King Edward VII, the Count of Paris, Queen Amelia of Portugal; the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Belgium; the present King Albert and his Queen consort; Crown Prince, later King Humbert, of Italy, were among royalty who broke their journeys across Switzerland by resting at the Crown.
In the hall of the Beau-Rivage-Palace Hotel, at Ouchy-Lausanne, is a Peace monument, the work of Edouard Sandoz. On the wall, and flanking the statue on either side, are these two inscriptions : Entre le Royaume d'Italieet l'Empire Ottomana ete signe a Beaurivagele Traite de Lausannele XVIII Octobre MDCCCCXII. Entre les Etats Unis d'Ameriquerepresentes par l'Honorable Joseph G. Grew et le Gouvernement de la Grande Assemblee Nationale de Turkierepresents par S. E. le General Ismet Pacha a ete signe a l'hotel BeaurivageLe Traite de Lausannele VI Aout MCMXXIII.
These inscriptions would establish the historic character of any hotel were they the record of all the history that had been made there; but the Beau-Rivage-Palace Hotel has even a longer story. The hotel is, in fact, two hotels. The Beau Rivage, which takes its name from the charming banks of the lake, was opened in the spring of 1861. The Palace wing was added in 1908, and the whole structure was improved in 1910 and again in 1924. Many public and private conferences which had a great deal to do both with the maps of Europe and the fortunes of great countries, have been held there. On October 18, 1912, there was signed there the Peace of Lausanne, which put an end to the fighting in Tripoli between Italy and Turkey. The conference which had this happy ending lasted from May until October. During the "Near East Conference," in 1922-23, the hotel was the headquarters for the British, American, Italian and Rumanian Delegations.
Lord Curzon, who headed the British Delegation, was quartered in what is known as "King Edward's Suite," because that monarch, as well as his mother, Queen Victoria, had stayed at the Beau-Rivage in its earlier days. In view of the distinguished company stopping at the hotel, an International Ball was given on New Year's Eve, 1922. There were many entertainments given by the Delegates, and for them. The "Fifth Treaty of Lausanne," between Turkey and the United States, was signed at the Beau-Rivage-Palace Hotel, on August 6, 1923, and, as told in the inscription in the hotel, the United States was represented by the Hon. Joseph G.' Grew.
There is another Beau-Rivage in Switzerland of almost equal age to the one mentioned above. This is the Grand Hotel Beau-Rivage, at Geneva, which in 1863, when it was originally built by a London banker, William Currie, had only seventy rooms for guests, and, as its historian notes, had only eleven windows on the front which overlooks the lake. Evidently the original managers, MM. Mayer and Kung, for whom the house was erected, were not superstitious, for the hotel opened its doors to guests for the first time on the thirteenth of April, 1865. Since then the hotel has been added to five times, and in 1925 almost completely remodelled, so that as a hostelry is really belongs to the present century, although its story belongs to the preceding one.
Its claim to historic mention rests upon several very important events of which it was the scene. The first of these, not only in significance but in chronological order, was the meeting there of the Alabama Commissioners to settle the claim of the Unite States against Great Britain for the depredations of the "Confederate privateer," Alabama, which had been fitted out in England and preyed upon the Commerce of the Federal Government during the Civil War. The commissioners met from April to June in the year 1872, in a salon in the Beau-Rivage. The opening of the sessions was thus commented upon by a correspondent of Harper's Weekly at the tine: "There could not have been a lovelier day than the 15th of April at Geneva-Mont-Blanc, forty miles away, looked in, figuratively speaking, at Mr. Bancroft Davis's windows at the Hotel Beau-Rivage; and when Mont-Blanc is here visible at all, it is a sort of Genevese Barometer of `set fair' weather." The meeting was held in Salon No. 28, which apartment always seems like "home" to American visitors to the house.
On August 18, 1873, the Duke Charles, of Brunswick, who had resided at the hotel for a year, died there, leaving to the city of Geneva all his fortune—25,000,000 francs, with which he charged the municipality to erect a mausoleum modelled on one that existed in Verona, and place his remains in it. This monument stands on the left side of the Quai du Mont-Blanc. In 1898 the Empress Elizabeth, of Austria was a guest at the Beau Rivage. As she was leaving to board the boat which was to take her to Territet, and while she was crossing the hotel grounds to the landing place, she was stabbed by an Italian anarchist. Carried tenderly back to the hotel she soon breathed her last.
Another important historic event which had great significance took place at the Beau-Rivage from October 28 to November 1, 1918. This was the Conference of the representatives of the Provisional Government of Czecho-Slovakia at Paris, and the envoys of the Czecho-Slovakia people of Prague which, after three days' deliberation, made the momentous decisions dethroning the Hapsburgs in Czecho-Slovakia, adopting a republican form of government for that country; and also a proposition to carry Doctor Masaryk, chief of the Revolution in Czecho-Slovakia, to the presidency of that state. The constitution adopted for the new European state was signed in the hotel, in the private room of Dr. K. Kramar, one of the Delegates. This apartment, which is No. 59, is directly over No. 28, which we have seen was another historic spot.
At Lucerne, the Grand Hotel National has been a land-mark since it was opened, in 1871, during the Franco-Prussian War. European royalties have been regular visitors and naturally its history has to do with their affairs. The list of kings and princes who have stopped there in the last half century is too long for inclusion here, but a few of their visits had a historic aspect. King Albert of Belgium and his bride and Queen stopped at the Grand Hotel on their honeymoon journey, and re-turned regularly to visit her parents, the late Count and Countess of Flanders, in their villa on Lake Lucerne. The year before the World War began the whole royal family sojourned there. During that conflict Cardinal Mercier, of Malines, stopped at the Grand Hotel on his way to Rome, whither he had been called to explain his now historic letters to the German governor of Brussels. On his return journey he again stopped there while awaiting the result of the Germans to prevent his return. They were unsuccessful in preventing him from going back to Belgium.
The late King Constantin of Greece, Queen Sophia and the Dowager Queen Olga, with their family and suite, spent two years during the World War, at the hotel. During their stay, they announced the betrothal of their daughter Princess Helen with Crown Prince Carol of Rumania. The betrothal dinner, which was served there, was attended by the Prince and Princess and the Royal families of Greece and Rumania. Queen Marie of Rumania; Grand Duke and Duchess Cyril, of Russia; Princess Marie (now Queen of Jugo-Slavia); Princess Christophore (formerly Mrs. Leeds), were also in the party. The Crown Prince, now King George of Greece, was also betrothed here with Princess Elisabeth of Rumania. It was while Prince Paul of Greece was stopping at the hotel, in 1919, that the Venizelist Minister of Greece at Berne came to offer him the Crown of Greece. The Prince refused, adding that his father was King and nobody could replace him while he lived.
The Grand Hotel National was also the home for many months of the late Emperor Charles, of Austria and family. He left in an aeroplane to Hungary, where, upon landing, he was arrested and expelled. In 1920 Lloyd George, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, with his suite were at the hotel holding a conference that lasted a week, with Signor Giolitti, then Prime Minister of Italy. In Lucerne also is to be found the Hotel Schlüssel, meaning "key," which seems to date from the middle sixteenth century, although about all of the contemporary architecture visible now is the ancient doorway with its carved stone lintel. The house was rebuilt in 1912, and the en-trance, as well as the main guest-room, was preserved. St. Charles Borromeo is said to have stopped there after the conclusion of the Council of Trent, 1570. It is also said that from 1574 to 1579 the Jesuit school was held there while the gymnasium or academy was being constructed in the town.
The Three Kings Hotel, at Basle, erected directly on the banks of the Rhine, although partly rebuilt, has claims to great antiquity made for it. We are told that the hotel stood here as early as the year 1026, and that within its walls in that year the Emperor Conrad II, his son Henry III, and Rodolphe, the last King of Burgundy, held a conference. Six years later Conrad won a battle over the Bergundians and annexed Western Switzerland to Germany. It was this historic meeting of three monarchs in the old inn that caused it to be named the Three Kings. This incident is so very remote that it is largely traditional, but in more recent times the hotel has entertained Kings, Grand Dukes and Princes, as well as Queens and Princesses and Grand Duchesses. Among the royal names on the register are those of King William of Wurttemberg; King Oscar of Norway and Sweden; King Christian IX, of Denmark; Carol, King of Rumania; King Peter I of Serbia; King Leopold, of Belgium; King Albert, of Belgium, and the Khedive Ishmei, of Egypt, to mention only a few.
Locarno, the quiet little town on beautiful Lake Maggiore, is perhaps of all places in Switzerland one in which almost all of its hotels may be said to have become historic, owing to the meeting there, during the two weeks from October 5 to 16, 1925, of the International Conference, from which so much good for world peace was expected. Delegations from many of the countries of Europe were present attending the sessions, and the correspondents of newspapers and news agencies of the world were sufficient in number to virtually fill one of the large hotels. All of these historic houses cannot be included here, but a few outstanding hostelries, whose part in the great event was vital, can be referred to. The Conference itself was much too large for any ordinary hotel, so the delegates were accommodated for their joint sessions in the Palais de Justice, a beautiful modern building. Some of the discussions were held on board a little lake steamboat, so the whole atmosphere of Locarno seems to exude historic memories.
At the Grand Hotel Palace were quartered the Delegations from Great Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Poland and Czecho-Slovakia, headed by the world figures, Austin Chamberlain, Aristide Briand, Signior Scialoja, M. Vander' velde, M. Skrzynski and Doctor Benes. The Hotel Esplanade was the headquarters of the German Delegation, headed by the Chancellor, Doctor Luther. The Hotel du Part housed the journalists in attendance at the Conference, while the little Ascona Restaurant Helvitia was made historic by having become the scene of the first meeting between M. Briand and Doctor Luther. Many important conferences were held in the Grand Hotel Palace, and there was given the historic banquet which pleasantly marked the close of the sessions of the Conference that gave the world the Locarno Peace Pact.
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. 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 VII. 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.