Ash Longet’s Guide to Winding Down at Geneva Watch Days 2022, Presented by Watchonista
We are only a few days away from the international watch community gathering in Geneva to celebrate watchmaking, and there’s little doubt that we’ve all missed our old haunts. But what if I shared with you some lesser-known (but still trendy) spots within the “Peace Capital” that you shouldn’t miss while rushing between appointments? I promise: It will be everything but watches!
Before I get to my recommendations, I must confess that when I started to plan appointments for Geneva Watch Days 2022 (GWD) with my friends from the industry, the idea of somehow creating a different kind of city guide for Geneva crossed my mind.
I wanted this city guide to relate to GWD in some way, but above all, I was seeking to include places with at least one of three ingredients. First, I wanted the venues to have a cool concept. Next, they needed to be a short distance (ideally, 1km) from the heart of the GWD playground. And third, but most importantly, I didn’t want any places I recommended to be commonplace.
In other words, I didn’t want to highlight the same restaurants and nightclubs at which we’ve always congregated after a grueling day of brand appointments.
So, my dear Watchonista pleasure-seekers, this selection is for us, the people who collect not only watches but also remarkable memories and experiences.
Surfin’ Lake Geneva
I can already feel your frustration and practically hear your thoughts: “Really?! I can’t go wakeboarding on Lake Geneva during GWD!” But believe me, you won’t regret starting your GWD marathon with a stunning view from the middle of the lake.
Reserve your private morning lesson with Wake Up wakeboard and surfing school, and please tag @Watchonista in your crazy stories!
Nestled as Switzerland is between France and Italy, there are plenty of fantastic places to get coffee while you struggle to stay awake through your packed GWD schedule. But if you want to relax as well as recharge, then look no further than Filomena Genève.
Filomena does a fantastic job with its house-roasted beans and has become a Rive Droite (or, right side of Lake Geneva, for the non-Francophones) favorite, serving exacting espresso drinks with a creative flair.
Insider Tip: Their Peach Espresso is my favorite summer pick-me-up.
On the Rocks
For gathering your thoughts (or calming your social anxiety) before GWD’s opening ceremony on Monday, August 29th, be sure to sneak a peek into the Four Seasons Hotel’s Izumi rooftop restaurant and bar located on the sixth floor of the swanky hotel overlooking Geneva.
The view is breathtaking, and it will help you rise above the chaos that is about to ensue. Later, during the show, you can wind down with a custom-made cocktail from 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm. Also, if you haven’t already tried the Cucumber Collins cocktail, you should!
Dumplings by the Lake
Geneva’s restaurant scene has come a long way since the days of year-round entrecote or fondue. My personal oasis of fresh lunch ideas takes place at the pop-up cafe Madame Sum.
A stylish, breezy hangout on Ile Rousseau offers a creative menu of colorful dim sum accompanied by a short selection of salads.
A Gentlemen’s Club (No, Not THAT Kind!)
If your mission is to find a suitable and stylish place to host a business appointment, then might I suggest the bar at Les Aviateurs?
Created by the legendary chef Philippe Chevrier and decorated by IWC, I feel particularly energized and focused when discussing deals in Les Aviateurs’ exceptional atmosphere, which (at least in my opinion) is a bit reminiscent of an exclusive gentlemen’s club.
Grand Cru for Your Crew
Where can you find succor if the minibar in your hotel room has run dry and needs a refill? Well, I suggest Baghera/Wines. It has an excellent range of exquisite and rare wines and spirits, and there is no doubt in my mind that you will not find a place with a better selection anywhere in Geneva.
Also, don’t hesitate to take advice from the sommeliers there; they will guide you through the world’s greatest crus, from the most recent years to historic vintages of the 19th century.
I hope you’ve liked my suggestions so far, but whether you love them or hate them, I hope we agree on one topic: A good party (be it dinner or cocktail) is an important part of every watch fair.
For dinner, I suggest reserving a table at Chez Piaf, an exquisite Paris-inspired restaurant, where recommendations from the kitchen Tomahawk de Bœuf to Linguines aux Gambas.
Plus, when the night moves on to post-dinner drinks, you won’t even need to change locations! For you see, behind one of the cupboards at Chez Piaf hides the Bambou speakeasy, which has the greatest selection of vinyl and high-end spirits.
If you prefer the “classics,” meaning you had too many cigars at Leopard Room or too much fun at Maison Balkii, you’ll definitely want (and need) a special recovery session.
And my go-to late-night food comes from one the most beloved Lebanese eateries in Geneva: Parfums de Beyrouth (open until 2:00 am seven days a week).
It’s not fancy, but the food is inexpensive (at least by Geneva standards), fast, and, most importantly, delicious.
Finally, before you leave the city at the close of GWD, I recommend stopping by Namaka Float and taking a moment of mindfulness and silence.
After such an intense show, a visit to Namaka Float will relax your mind and rejuvenate your body and spirit in ways you can’t believe. I won’t tell you more and spoil the fun. But suffice it say, you need to check it out for yourself!