Redolent of history, the ‘Helvti’ is regarded with great affection by Zürchers. Now equally well known as a restaurant and hotel, Helvetia started life as a bar and became famous for its illegal lock-ins and firebrand patrons drawn from the worlds of music, art and journalism, giving it a ringside seat when Zürich’s student and artistic community rioted in 1980.
Located near major newspaper offices, Gessnerallee’s theatres and the stock exchange the bar still attracts a mixed crowd, but these days there is more Rioja than revolution going down on faded green leather banquettes. A light, brasserie-style space with dark wood walls and modern art from nearby Haus Konstructiv, the bar is charmingly welcoming – as are the restaurant and design hotel upstairs. In summer, the scene moves outside to tables alongside the river and the rooftop terrace bar.