Housed in an elegant 18th century building, Winterthur’s members-only CLUB ZUR GEDULD provides a luxurious setting for relaxation and fi ne dining – and proof that patience truly is the highest virtue.
What the worthy and wealthy burghers of Winterthur, a Medieval city close to Zurich, needed, decided Oscar Reinhart upon returning to his native city after working abroad and experiencing the genteel amenities of gentlemen’s clubs in London and India, was a luxurious, private club where they could gather to relax, converse and perhaps do a little business. Ever the man of action, Reinhart – the scion of a family of local merchants – picked an elegant, historical building in the old city centre as the location for his new club. The name of the house was Haus zur Geduld – the house of patience. When the building was erected in the 15th century, the houses were not numbered as they are today; instead, the custom was to give each building a name, popularly a virtue, an animal that symbolised good fortune or a hardy plant. Accordingly, alongside buildings named “Piety”, “Peace”, “Pelican” or “Fir Tree”, the club’s future premises were named after one of the cardinal virtues of Pietism, a religious movement that was fast gaining traction in Winterthur. First mentioned in 1448, the building on the busy Marktgasse between two of the city’s ancient gates was probably originally an inn. Two and a half centuries later, the complex was acquired by a wealthy local ironmonger and magistrate who demolished the original structure and built the present one in 1717 – and, crucially, kept the old name alongside the “new-fangled” address, Number 22, Marktgasse. The house remained in his family’s possession for decades and its inhabitants included one of the founders of the banking giant, UBS. In 1919, Oscar Reinhart bought the building and opened his Club zur Geduld in 1922. With numerous engineering and banking firms, the city of Winterthur was a flourishing industrial centre, and the new club soon attracted an elite membership who appreciated its luxurious amenities.
Walk along Marktgasse today, and you find yourself facing a simple, structured stone façade with a magnificent portico complete with pilasters and a thick oak door. Inside, everything is as you would expect to find in a building with this heritage. Glossy parquet flooring burnished to a high gleam, comfortable antique armchairs that beckon invitingly, historical cabinets, sparkling crystal, gleaming silver and crisp linen. Oil paintings from the founder’s personal collection hang on the walls. The other works in his truly impressive art collection can be admired in two of the city’s main attractions: the Oskar Reinhart Museum and the Oskar Reinhart Collection which is on display in his former private residence, Am Römerholz.
The facilities straddle the divide between elegant and cosy, and the rooms with their historical furnishings are ideal for intimate gatherings and larger functions. The club’s in-house restaurant is considered amongst the best in Winterthur. The menu features seasonal Mediterranean specialities, but the expert chefs can also accommodate most special requests. Another standout location in the club is the Ladies’ Salon, a small yet elegant salon with 20 seats. Several years ago, while the salon was being refurbished, a series of magnificent grisailles was discovered under seven layers of paint on the wall panels. These charming little Rococo scenes were painted in varying shades of grey – hence the name – and are believed to have been commissioned in the latter third of the 18th century, making them a truly remarkable find. A cosy meal in the salon is a wonderful opportunity to admire these rare treasures at close quarters.
The perfect place for a pre- or post-dinner drink is the club’s bar, which serves a fine selection of classic cocktails and prides itself on its extensive list of international wines. Guests can, if they wish, repair to the adjacent smokers’ lounge to enjoy a choice cigar from the club’s humidor. With around 410 members with an average age of 50-55, Club zur Geduld has an elite membership across the higher echelons of the public and private sectors. The club origanises many regular events for members, with an emphasis on socialising; wine tastings, book readings, diner dances and the annual Berchtoldsmahl banquet provide ample opportunities to get together and network. Although Club zur Geduld has no bedrooms for members and guests, staff will happy to book rooms at the nearby Park Hotel, which is a few steps along the street.
Named after such an essential and virtue, this club is irrefutable proof of the African proverb, “At the bottom of patience one finds heaven.” Welcome to Winterthur’s little bit of heaven!