Each month our resident business travel expert Mark Frary writes the Heathrow Express travel guide to a major city. This month: Zurich
Business travel buzz
Zurich is one of those cities that feels like it should be a capital. It is Switzerland’s commercial heart and one of the world’s leading financial centres, home to the major Swiss banks, as well as global companies such as ABB and Zurich Financial Services.
And services – particularly of the financial kind – are the most important part of the economy, accounting for 90% of city jobs. Zurich is also a leader in green technologies. In 2008, its inhabitants voted for an annual emissions commitment of just one tonne of CO2 per person by 2050. As a result, cleantech companies have flocked to the region.
Zurich is the most expensive city in Europe – even more so after the Swiss National Bank unpegged the Swiss franc from the euro. That said, the city regularly ranks highly for quality of life. It is second in the Mercer Quality of Living rankings for 2015.
Two airlines fly between Zurich and Heathrow – British Airways and Swiss International. Swiss runs seven services daily from Heathrow Terminal 2 while BA has up to six services a day from Terminal 5. You’ll find the airport just 13 km north of the city centre and, typically for Switzerland, it’s integrated brilliantly with the public transport network. Trains run from the airport railway station to the city every few minutes and the journey takes around 10 minutes; the one-way fare is CHF6.60 (£4.50) in second class. By comparison, a taxi takes about 30 minutes and costs around CHF70 (£48).
Taking the tram – or walking – are the best ways to get around; there are tram stops every few hundred metres and day tickets cost from CHF8.60 (£8). Meanwhile a 2014 survey found that Zurich’s taxi fares were the most expensive among major cities in the world, at an average of CHF17.40 (£11.80) for a 3km journey.
Think Swiss, and you probably think: ‘chocolate’. So why not pop into the Spruengli chocolate shops around the city to pick up a tray of reassuringly expensive truffles? Another Spruengli speciality are the airy and light Luxumbergerli mini-macaroons.
For some, Cabaret Voltaire brings up memories of the post-punk era. But the band’s name comes from a club on Spiegelgasse which was the home of the Dadaist anti-art movement. The building is now a museum and performance space.
The city’s location on the banks of Zurichsee, close to the Alps means the great outdoors is central to life here. If you have time for a break from meetings you can go walking, mountain biking or even rollerblading round the lake?
And if you are in town on 1st August, this is when the country celebrates its national day, marking the signing of the treaty which established Switzerland in 1291. Expect parades, food, dancing and fireworks in celebration.
The black book
Zurich can get hot in the summer and badi-bars (bathing pool bars) are the place to chill. Rimini, at Badweg 10, transforms into a bar from 5pm over the summer months and is a great place to lounge on the wooden deck on fat cushions. Pumpstation on Utoquai is another great waterside location.
The city has a lively nightclub scene too – don’t miss Zurich institution Kaufleuten, while Mascotte, by Bellevue, offers a mix of live music, DJs and comedy in an old building overlooking the lake. Meanwhile, the enormous techno festival Street Parade takes over the city at the end of August.
Zurich is famous for its sausages. Sample them with a business lunch at Zeughauskeller, a former arsenal with stained glass windows, or at the famous Sternen Grill on Bellevue if you’re in a rush. Hotels are unsurprisingly expensive in Zurich. According to travel management company HRG, the average nightly business rate was £201.71 in the first half of 2014. Try the historic five-star Widder in the Augustiner district for the full experience of excellent service and setting.
The good news is that many new business-focused hotels have started to lower rates. One cheaper option is the 25hours Hotel in Zurich West; it’s outside the city centre but offers simple, clean rooms and good service at prices from around CHF140 (£95) (with free bike rental thrown in).
Don’t forget you can always grab free WiFi with your coffee at the starkly designed Plüsch on Aemtlerstrasse or Piccolo Giardino on Schöneggplatz.
Want to know Zurich like those who live there? Check out some of the city’s social media leaders:
- Zurich blog Food Freaks is a great place to discover places to eat. The blog is in German, but there are plenty of pictures on Pinterest
- Juerg Lauber of IgersZurich has a great eye for Zurich’s architecture, life and people
- Find restaurant openings and events in Zurich – along with a slice daily life @NewinZurich
- Follow Spear’s Magazine contributor Emily Rookwood for a look at Zurich life: @emilyrookwood
- The MyGirlfriendGuide blog is a sassy round-up of health, beauty, dining, shopping and more in Zurich. Follow it on Twitter @Zuri_Girl
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