During our trip to Bern for the Onion Market, our group took a break in the day to have lunch at the Hotel Innere Enge. And while the food was very good, the service and ambiance excellent, I did not know that we had come to a treasure trove in the heart of Switzerland (a place of many treasures).
First of all, someone said that the name of the restaurant, the Josephine Brasserie, is called that because of Josephine (Napoleon’s wife) who stayed here. Then, the owner of the hotel, Marianne, sat with us for a bit and chatted – a delightful women. She offered to give us a tour of the hotel after lunch. Apparently one of the women in our group knows this woman, hence the special treatment. I had no idea that this hotel is the home to some excellent jazz. Marianne and her husband, Hans, bought the historic building and renovated it in 1992. Each week they feature the most impressive jazz musicians in their jazz club. Marianne said they fly the performers in on Monday, then the music happens on Tuesday-Saturday. Our tour began with some of the rooms which are dedicated to certain jazz musicians. We didn’t get to see the Louis Armstrong or Dizzy Gillespie rooms (I assume they were occupied), but we did see rooms for Lionel Hampton, Oscar Peterson, Wild Bill Davison and Ahmad Jamal. Marianne has worked with each of the musicians to decide which photos and pieces of memorabilia with which to decorate each room. Then when those musicians are staying at the hotel (if they are still alive….) then they have their own special room. So, seeing the rooms was pretty cool, but the part that I just loved was the jazz club in the basement. It’s a cozy place with seating for 120. When Marianne deems it appropriate, she will invite the musicians to sign the wall. Not everyone who plays there is invited to do so. You can see Ellis Marsalis’ name right in the middle of this photo. I also learned that Marians Jazzroom sponsors an International Jazz Festival in Bern for 10 weeks from March-May. Something to plan for….