Audemars Piguet is popular for its timepieces, but with its new Hôtel des Horlogers now open, it is clear that the Swiss watchmaker is looking to expand its expertise in a new industry.
A Luxury Hotel with a Rich Legacy
On the site where the new Hôtel des Horlogers currently sits once stood another well-known establishment. The Hôtel De France was one of just two hotels at the time in the Vallée de Joux in Le Brassus which is regarded as the epicentre of Swiss watchmaking. According to history, the then-resident cattle farmers took to crafting and improving upon horological pieces during long, harsh winters when they were snowed in with little to do. Their continued ‘side hobby’ during winter laid the foundation of what we know today as Swiss watchmaking.
It is also here, across the valley, that other luxury timepiece manufacturers like Jaeger-LeCoultre, Blancpain, Breguet, and Patek Philippe, are situated. Visitors to the newly opened hotel will not only enjoy the warm hospitality of the town but also have the unique opportunity to visit these other watchmaking houses and learn a bit more about their favourite timepieces. The Jaeger-LeCoultre museum or the independent Espace Horloger in Le Sentier, four kilometres from Le Brassus, are excellent venues for a historic overview of Swiss watchmaking.
Built with the environment in mind
The Hôtel des Horlogers, designed by Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels, was conceived to blend seamlessly with the existing architecture, and stand as a timeless, hidden structure in the countryside.
As such, it has been designed in a zigzag sort of way to mirror the topography of the region. The design also has the dual advantage of ensuring that none of the hotel’s 50 soundproof rooms rests on top of another and every room has unobstructed views of the sweeping valley. So whether you’re staying in the guest room or the suite, you’re assured of the utmost privacy and a truly fantastic view of the outdoors.
The stringent Swiss Minergie-ECO certification guided the hotel’s design, and its owners place great emphasis on minimising energy consumption and waste. The building harnesses a local wood-based heating network, which recycles bio waste, to provide hot water and heating. The entire hotel is paperless and observes a zero-plastic policy while single-use items are made of biodegradable materials.
For example, the bags are burlap; pencils contain thyme seeds that can be planted in the forest and are used instead of pens; combs are made of wood and the slippers in the rooms are biodegradable. The hotel even has its own bottling system for spring water from the Valley to avoid the transport of tons of glass bottles all year round and reduce its carbon footprint.
What to do at the Hôtel des Horlogers
In spite of the fact that Audemars Piguet is in the business of timekeeping, it wants you to lose your sense of time as you slow down and truly enjoy yourself at its hotel.
It goes without saying that the first activity on your to-do list is to visit the neighbouring watchmaking houses and other related attractions. Thankfully, Audemars Piguet has its own museum, the spiral-shaped Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet also designed by Ingels, where you can go to discover unimaginably precious timepieces spanning the history of watchmaking.
Switzerland is a ski haven, and the Vallée de Joux itself is home to four ski resorts. After you’ve learnt everything you can on watchmaking, go skiing, or consult with the concierge for other activities ranging from water sports to hiking and fishing. The AstroVal observatory is also nearby, so you can explore a more interesting one in the skies if you’re tired of the activities on land.