A stone’s throw from the shores of Lake Zurich, an impressive industrial building-turned- boutique hotel and thermal spa complex invites visitors to immerse themselves in a unique facet of the city’s history. The B2 Boutique Hotel was designed to honor the heritage of a building that once housed the iconic Hürlimann Brewery. Today, it offers guests a luxurious base from which to explore the city’s manifold pleasures.
It’s hard to think of a more awe-inspiring place to witness the sun rising over Zurich than the thermal rooftop pool at the former Hürlimann Brewery complex, a relic of the city’s industrial heritage, perched atop the Sihlberg hill in the Enge district. For one hour every morning, guests of the adjacent B2 Boutique Hotel have exclusive access to the spa area, and can start their morning taking in the panoramic view during a relaxing dip in the gently bubbling 38° mineral-rich water before heading downstairs for a lavish breakfast, served in the hotel’s centerpiece space, the open-plan ‘Wine Library’.
Here, in the former boiler house of the brewery, a towering triptych of cathedral-style windows, restored from the building’s original architecture, are flanked by floor-to-ceiling smoked oak shelves, neatly stacked with over 33,000 books—which visitors are encouraged to borrow and read. Three large custom bottle chandeliers hint at the site’s rich history, one that stretches back for over 150 years. In 1867, Albert Hürlimann established a brewery on a former farm. By 1880, the brewery had become the largest in Switzerland. Over the next century, the brewery continued to flourish, and Hürlimann became a household name in bars and refrigerators in Zurich and across the country.
In 1970, Hürlimann began to drill for water in pursuit of its own source for the brewing process. Though mineral content of the source they found was too high for the purposes of beer, it transpired to be ideal for thermal baths—an unintended discovery which is put to good use in the form of the spa complex today. In 1996, following a 130-year production period, Hürlimann stopped brewing at the Zurich complex, and the company merged with the Feldschlösschen brewery in Aargau, where operations were moved to. Shortly after, a design competition was tendered to breathe new life into the site, and a conservation-focused remodeling phase was embarked on.
2011 marked the opening of Zurich’s thermal bath complex, spread throughout different levels of the former brewery—distinct from B2 but directly connected to allow guests to make the most of its wellness facilities, which comprise Roman-Irish-style baths situated deep inside the old malt storage cellars, and wooden hot tubs in addition to the rooftop pool. A year later, the B2 Boutique Hotel opened its doors, following an extensive renovation process led by the Swiss interior architect, Ushi Tamborriello, whose design vision imbued the building’s traditional elements with contemporary flair. After arriving at the hotel via an uphill approach, guests enter the expansive concrete-clad foyer, with plush armchairs and stacks of books providing a comforting contrast to the stark grey walls.
Hotel staff, at once professional and charming, are quick to greet guests, setting an atmosphere of warmth and wellbeing. Once checked in, guests are guided through the hotel’s corridors to one of 60 rooms or eight suites—the latter being situated in the former cooling hall, a row of terrace ‘houses within a house’, built to be completely detached from the imposing steel structure that serves as their shell. In this way, the former brewery’s industrial character comes to the fore, enchanting in its grand scale and clever adaptation. Inside the rooms, the use of rich oak wood, neutral-toned materials and subdued lighting create an atmosphere of modern luxury, inviting visitors to the city to relax, unwind and bask in the presence of the building’s uniquely captivating past.