Travel Spotlight

Basel Cheat Sheet

Nothing much ever changes in Basel, Switzerland, and that's how longtime visitors prefer it. The vibe is one of rituals, especially during fair time (days in the Hallen, drinks at Campari Bar, dinner at Donati, and so on).

Where to Stay

Classic: Les Trois Rois

Located on the banks of the Rhine River in Basel’s pretty Old Town, this grande dame first opened in 1681. Its 101 rooms and suites boast a Neo Classic and Art Deco style, with antiques and objets d’art displayed throughout. Its central location and several restaurants make it a hub during Art Basel. (Blumenrain 8; 41-061-260-5050)

Contemporary: Hotel.D This trendy four-star, located on the popular Blumenrain Street just outside the Old Town, debuted in 2010. Its 48 rooms and suites are minimalist-chic with a subdued color scheme and such tech details as iPod docks. They are on the small side but some have fabulous views of the river. A fitness studio and sauna are also on the premises. (Blumenrain 19; 41-061-272-2020;

Decadent: Baur au Lac Many art lovers don’t stay in Basel, opting instead to stay in Zurich and commute via the efficient (of course) train to the fair. The Baur is the city's traditional grand European hotel and set in a park on the shore of Lake Zurich. Tip: The art crowd based here flocks nightly to the nearby Kronnenhalle restaurant with original art decorating the walls. (Talstrasse 1, Zurich; 41-044-220-5020;

Where to Eat

Culinary Top: Le Cheval Blanc

Foodies should sample the two Michelin star cuisine of this well-known Basel restaurant, located within Les Trois Rois hotel. Chef Peter Knogl was awarded Chef of the Year in 2011 by the Gault Milaut Swiss Restaurant Guide. (Blumenrain 8; 41-061-260-5007;

Culinary Top: Chez Donati A ten-minute walk from Les Trois Rois hotel, this formal Italian eatery is one of the most popular tables to book during Art Basel. The cuisine is focused on Piedmont dishes and the wine list is excellent. (St. Johanns-Vorstadt; 41-061-322-0919)

Hot Spot A popular spot for cocktails is the Campari Bar followed by dinner at the Restaurant Kunsthalle, both in Basel's contemporary art museum. (Steinenberg 7; 41-061-272-4233; 

Local Vibe: Schlüsselzunft Try saying the name of this popular restaurant three times in a row. It's located in a centuries-old guild hall (its name means "key guild") that was built in the 12th century. It's a lovely setting to dine on seasonal dishes. (Freie Strasse 25; 41-061-261-2046;

St Alban-Eck Located in the historic St. Alban district and a just five-minute walk from the Kunstmuseum, St. Alban-Eck uses local produce and specializes in creative seafood dishes. (St. Alban-Vorstadt 60; 41-061-271-60-40;

Schloss Bottmingen Fine-dining in a moated 14th century castle? It exists at Schloss Bottmigen. Enjoy classical French cuisine in one of three dining rooms or, in the summer, on the garden terrace. Closed on Mondays. (Schlossgasse 9; 41-061-421-1515;

RhyWyera A great riverside location and cozy atmosphere will draw you in to RhyWyera; the creative menu and welcoming staff will make you happy that you chose to eat there. Grab a table on the terrace and enjoy the view of the Central Bridge over the Rhine. Closed Sundays. (Unterer Rheinwag 10; 41-061-683-3202;

Noohn This Asian Fusion restaurant has a fresh a-la-carte menu as well as Sushi bar, where dishes are prepared in front of guests and circulated via conveyor so they can serve themselves. Dine indoors or in the garden area, and be sure to check out the roof terrace in the summer. (Henric Petri-Strasse 12; 41-061-281-14;

Krafft Fresh market produce and a substantial wine selection are just a couple of reasons to dine at Krafft Basel. Another, of course, is its location overlooking the Rhine. Both indoor and outdoor seating and a creative menu make this hotel restaurant a stand-out. (Rheingasse 12; 41-061-690-91-30;

Acqua With a lively bar and an inviting atmosphere, this trendy Italian spot serves up innovative dishes and classic cocktails. Located in a renovated waterworks factory, Acqua is industrial and stylish and fun. The outside lounge area is a great place to enjoy a cocktail in the summer. (Binningerstrasse 14; 41-061-564-66-66: 

What to See & Do

Vitra Museum, Courtesy Les Trois Rois

Vitra Museum, Courtesy Les Trois Rois
Fondation Beyeler

Situated in a building designed by Renzo Piano, this museum showcases works from the 20th century, ranging from Monet to Bacon. (Baselstrasse 101; 41-061-645-9700;

Vitra Museum Housed in an eye-catching design by Californian architect Frank Gehry, Vitra showcases industrial furniture and architecture. Don’t miss the Vitra Gift Shop, which equals that of the MOMA in New York. (2 Charles-Eames-Str., Weil am Rhein, Germany; 49-07621-702-3200;

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