Sometimes you visit a place and know one day you must return, such is the impact it has on you.

The beautiful Beau-Rivage Palace Hotel, majestic on the shore of Lake Geneva in Lausanne, Switzerland, is just such a place.

So a second opportunity to experience this grand, historic hotel, with its air of old-style opulence and jaw-dropping views, was snapped up immediately.

A short taxi ride from Lausanne central station after about an hour’s picturesque train journey from Geneva airport brings you to this grand old lady of Europe.

The vista out across the lake to The Alps is eye-poppingly beautiful and the view within – with a huge chandeliered lobby and rooms furnished to the highest standard – is no less impressive.

This time we had one of the hotel’s standard rooms but this rather plays down the spacious luxury on offer. On our last visit they had been embarking on a project to ensure that guests could enjoy a lake view from their bathtub in every room on that side of the hotel – and indeed this was the case in our room.

The hotel has witnessed important events – the Treaty of Lausanne, which contributed to the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, was signed here. It has also hosted famous people – The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Nelson Mandela and Noel Coward are among them.

With 168 beautiful rooms, 33 of them suites, three restaurants – including three-star chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s – two bars, a lavish ballroom, 12 banquet rooms and a spa, this really is a fabulous place to take a luxury break.

The staff are warm, welcoming and attentive, whether you are walking along the corridor or awaiting afternoon tea in the comfortable lounge downstairs.

The Cinq Mondes spa offers a range of treatments – everything from a full massage to beard trimming – using products and rituals from around the world. The little bottle of the spa’s Egyptian Water, which was in our room for pillow-spraying, smelt delicious and seemed to promote good sleep.

The Café Beau-Rivage, which has a lively, chatty atmosphere in the evening, offers a range of tempting options, including the delicious local speciality of ‘filets de perches’ (perch from the lake). Later on make sure you try the mind-blowing hot chocolate.

The town of Lausanne boasts historic sights, boutique shopping, Switzerland’s smallest metro system and the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee.

But a stroll along the lakeside is one of the nicest things to do – during our visit there was a series of photos from Olympic Games of the past displayed along the promenade.

This is a good base from which to visit Montreux, just an hour or so’s train ride away. You can also take a ferry across the lake to France to sample the waters at the famous Evian source, more or less opposite Lausanne.

With good value winter flights into Geneva airport from Bournemouth, Lausanne is within easy reach. And the Beau-Rivage Palace often has special deals that could tempt you to treat yourself. Go on – you know you’re worth it!

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A great base for exploration

Lausanne is a great base from which to explore a whole variety of lakeside points of interest in Switzerland, and indeed France.

You are just a 35-minute ferry ride from the world-famous élite holiday resort and spa town of Evian-les-Bains, on the French side of the lake.

The Evian springs first came to fore in the early 19th century when their water was scientifically tested and found to have astonishing curative qualities.

You can visit the source as well as other attractions like the villa of early film-makers the Lumière brothers.

Also within easy reach – just half an hour by train – is musical Montreux on the far eastern tip on Lake Geneva. Famed for its annual jazz festival in July, it also has close associations with Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.

You can see a 10 feet high statue of the flamboyant singer overlooking the lake and join thousands of fans who gather in the town each September for Freddie Mercury Memorial Day.