We visit Zürich regularly, given that our hometown of Luzern only is a short train ride away. Normally these visits are just day trips, but once in a while we spend the night in the biggest city of Switzerland. In May 2023, we decided to try out the new five star hotel FIVE, just outside of the city centre. This hotel certainly knows how to work social media, as ads for FIVE Zürich are everywhere on my Instagram. So how well does the reality stack up to the influencer shots shown in those ads?
Central location without being in the midst of Zürich
FIVE Zürich is located halfway up the Uetliberg, a hill outside of the city center of Zürich. This makes for an unique experience, where you take the tram to your hotel from Zürich hauptbahnhof, to be greeted by cows that graze around the hotel premises. You could walk to the hotel from the inner city, but is will take about an hour. There is a tram connection from the main train station (the S10) that takes about 9 minutes. From the tram stop Triemli, it’s only a few more minutes of walking until you reach FIVE Zürich.
Two hotels in one – and a very long tunnel
When booking a room at FIVE Zürich, it is important to realise the hotel comprises of two buildings. There is the main hotel, the building that houses all the amenities such as restaurants, pool, spa etc. Then, FIVE Zürich has rooms in the ‘Amazing’ category, that are located in the so-called ‘east wing’. These rooms are actually located in a different building that is connected with the main hotel through a tunnel of over 150 meters long. The hotel has attempted to ‘spice’ up the tunnel with light effects to turn it into an ‘immersive experience’, but in the end it is just a very long annoying underground tunnel separating your room from all the good stuff there is to do at FIVE Zürich.
Check in experience at hotel FIVE Zürich
The reception of FIVE Zürich is located in the main building by the head entrance. We felt that while the welcome was friendly, it was not up to par with the five stars this hotel holds (and the price tag that comes with it). The hotel does not seem to have any German speakers (or we have not seen them at least), which is rather odd for a hotel in the largest German-speaking city of Switzerland. The receptionist were friendly, but were not knowledgeable enough about the area to give any tips, if we had wanted some. Luckily, we had nightly entertainment catered for with the amazing dumpling course at Sherly’s kitchen!
The rooming by a staff member started at the reception and ended at the entrance of the above mentioned tunnel. From there on, it was up to us to find the hotel (and our room) at the other end of that tunnel.
The east wing is a hotel building that is completely renovated, so everything is brand new. The design is stylish and there is a lounge area with a small self-service café where you can pick up some snacks. The area is empty though, as everything that makes this hotel fun is happening in the main building.
The ‘Amazing’ rooms with not so amazing design choices
As mentioned before, the east wing exclusively has rooms in the category ‘Amazing’. When first entering the room, it hit us just how small the rooms are. No problem for us that only stay one night before hopping onto a 45 minute train home the day after, but for overseas travelers this could definitely be a problem. The bed is incredibly comfortable
One of the annoying things about the rooms, that (if we are to believe reception) is fixed since our stay, is the fact the room has a light that can not be turned off. Above the minibar, there is a light strip that is on even when all other lights are out in the room. We have tried every light switch at least three times, but were not able to make our room as dark as we wanted it. Raising this to reception the morning after, they seemed to be aware (and did not seem to think it’s a big deal).
The bathroom of our room was small but spotlessly clean and newly renovated. There was a shower and complimentary toiletries including wooden tooth brushes and shaving sets. There is one thing you should know about these rooms, especially if you are visiting with a friend instead of alone or with a partner. The bathroom and room are separated by a fully transparent glass wall. No button to turn the glass opaque or a curtain to draw in front of the glass when the bathroom is in use. No, you can wave from the toilet to your room mate that might just be making the bed. For a hotel in this price class, there must be other solutions for this.
The Instagram hotel
We had dinner plans already on the Friday, so did not get the chance to try out the onsite restaurants. The theming of the hotel restaurants is on-point though. Quirky, stylish and fun – it is clear this hotel really wants you to pull out your camera. Maybe that is why this hotel is so popular with many influencers from the Zürich area. There is a night club on the top floor of the hotel where you can party all night long if you want. Some previous guests staying in the main building complained about the night club noises keeping them from sleeping. Hmm, suddenly that 150 metres long tunnel does not sound so bad anymore!
The summer pool
The pool area outside is definitely a very nice place to be on a summer day. There are plenty of shaded lounge areas and sunbeds dotted by the pool and the views over the Swiss meadows are amazing. Entrance to the pool is complimentary for hotel guests. If you are not staying at the hotel you can buy a day access to the pool. Prepare to empty your wallet though, as access to the pool is a whopping CHF 100 per person. CHF 60 of that is redeemable on food and drinks at the pool bar, but don’t think that CHF 60 gets you very far. We paid CHF 10 for a 33cl bottle of beer and over CHF 20 for a cocktail. Kaa-ching!
The pool is big and was calm when we were there, but keep in mind this is a popular party spot during the Zürich summers, so keep an eye out on their calendar.
The morning of our departure, we decided to have a look at the wellness area of Hotel FIVE Zürich. Unsurprisingly, your find this in the main building of the hotel too, on the lowest floor of the hotel. The wellness area is modern and well equipped with a sauna, a steam room, a small pool and a jacuzzi. While we had the entire spa almost to ourselves on a Saturday morning, I can imagine this being quite cramped on a cloudy day considering the hotel has over a 100 rooms in total.
If I were to say one negative thing about the swimming area, it would be about the marble tiles on the floor. In some areas the marble is broken and chipping away. You could pick up a piece and take it home with you as a souvenir. You can do better here, FIVE! The changing rooms were bright and comfortable. All in all, the spa at FIVE Zürich was a nice way to start the day.
The overall verdict
You might be reading this now and thinking that FIVE Zürich shall be avoided at all costs. The thing is, if the hotel is fundamentally flawed beyond the point of saving, I most likely would have taken my losses and never written about our experience. However, FIVE Zürich can become a valuable addition to the Zürich hotel scene. But with our experience in May 2023, I don’t see it warranting five stars and the price tag (rooms start at CHF 250 for the cheapest category).
Get your staff to a level where they understand the local language and are knowledgeable about the area and things to do there. And most of all, make sure they understand to take guest feedback and complaints seriously. If not, they will give their feedback online instead, proven by the current ratings on Tripadvisor.
All in all, the experience at FIVE Zürich was not bad. I think much of the disappointment comes from the fact it is not on the level you’d expect it to be. The difference with our other recent five star hotel experience at Hotel Savoy Lausanne was night and day. The outdoor pool was a big plus for FIVE though, despite the expensive drinks.
Do you want to try the hotel for yourself? You can find more information about the different rooms on Booking.com