The best Swiss designers can combine ancient and modern without annoying fans of either period, and the Hofgarten in Lucerne is a fine example of that skill. Although part of the city's oldest building, the hotel is hung with contemporary paintings from the collection in the Rebstock, its sister-establishment. Embedded in the walls are pieces of tile from the days when traditional ceramic ovens were produced here and five bedrooms still use these for back-up heating. All bedrooms, however, have modern furniture and decorations which together look like a work of art. Bathrooms make you want to get up early to make maximum use of everything they offer. There are proper shaving mirrors, baths to stretch out in, big towels to curl up in, and plenty of natural light, thanks to glass walls and doors.
  The restaurant also marries old and new: one area has linen table-cloths and crystal candelabra; another boasts a multi-hued ceramic ceiling and coloured crystal lights. Both offer vegetarian cooking that is delicious and original. Surrounded by flowers 'so fresh they must still be growing', our inspector was full of praise. 'What flair, what comfort, what peace, all in the heart of a city'.