Classic Cool

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva’s past—and past guests—inform a fresh new aesthetic.

When it comes to storied properties, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva, is about as iconic as it gets. The locale—whose recent revamp and conversion marks the luxury Marriott Intl. brand’s debut in Switzerland—dates back to 1865 and once welcomed such famed guests as the Monaco Royal Family and American actor Orson Welles. It was also built at a crossroads in the country’s history: Two years after the hotel’s inception, the International Congress of Peace assembled in the city.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva | Il Prisma | Barbara Casati

Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva

Given that, it’s no surprise the property’s heritage—as well as its location on the shores of Lake Geneva and at the foot of Europe’s highest mountain, Mont-Blanc—served as the inspiration for the hotel’s refreshed look. Italian design firm Il Prisma and architect/designer Barbara Casati teamed to create a design concept around art, time and nature, subtly blending the hotel’s Italianate architecture with modern, scaled-back interiors.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva | Il Prisma | Barbara Casati

Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva

In keeping with that aesthetic, the marble-clad lobby is offset by crisp white walls and dove gray furnishings. Overhead, a jeweled chandelier acts as a centerpiece while marrying historic opulence with contemporary flair. In the hotel’s atrium, hallways showcase an exhibition of tapestries that feature historical figures who played a role in attaining peace, from Italian general, politician and nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi to French poet, novelist and dramatist Victor Hugo.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva | Il Prisma | Barbara Casati

Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva

But the 74-key hotel’s crown jewel is the Grace Kelly suite, which is named after the Hollywood actress who later became the Princess of Monaco and who frequently visited the hotel during her reign.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva | Il Prisma | Barbara Casati

Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva

“The design of the Grace Kelly suite, like the whole project, was inspired by the concept of ‘revised classicism’ in which environments and atmospheres are not overturned by the new, but modernity has strong roots in heritage,” explains Casati.

Barbara Casati

Barbara Casati. Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva

Art deco styling and gold leaf gilding give that space a royal feel. Kelly’s duality of beauty—which was once described by director Alfred Hitchcock as both icy and sensual—is also reflected via a neutral palette of cold tones.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva | Il Prisma | Barbara Casati

Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva

“The inspiration came to me from the personality of the Princess herself,” recalls Casati. “I’ve always been deeply impressed by the regal elegance of her, both before and after becoming a princess, as if two such different roles in life did not scrape her identity,” she adds. “The suite’s incredible freshness and modernity have always been reconciled with the historical density of the kingdom in which she lived in the second part of her life. It’s a magnificent hybrid of innovation and classical style.”

The result is what Casati describes as “intentionally timeless and not ascribable to a specific historical era” and in harmony with the canons of “non-exhibited luxury.”