Vladimir Nabokov (St. Petersburg, 1899- Montreux, 1977) went to the Palace Hotel in Montreux in 1961 to spend the afternoon with his friend Peter Ustinov and stayed 16 years. That may sound extravagant, but when you step foot in this hotel, the decision has no merit. The Palace-Montreux retains its Belle Époque splendour with lounges, terraces, furniture and its old art nouveau entrance door. It overlooks Lake Geneva and faces the French Alps.
Beyond the mountains they say there is France, but for those who live here, beyond there is nothing. Vera and Vladimir – with Lolita’s success in their pockets – saw the second. They chose the sixth floor, three rooms plus suite no. 65, with balcony.
Today it is a sanctuary where every now and then fans spend the night with devotion (and money). Intact are the desk, with its ink stain on the drawer, the chair (still broken by the backrest), the cups, the bed.
For 16 years, Nabokov lived with the intensity that corresponds to Montreux when his music festival does not take place: he hunted butterflies, played chess with Vera, walked around the lake to experience the “magnificent serenity” of which his neighbour Chaplin spoke and wrote. So until 1977, when he was buried in his cemetery.