Utoschloss / Geschichte

A journey back in time through the history of the Ambassador Hotel


A visit to the past and back again

We invite you to read up about the history of the Utoschloss. Thanks to historian and author Dr. Bernhard Ruetz you can do that in the book that we have commissioned him to write. But let’s start with an amuse bouche to whet your appetite. If this intrigues you, you can download the whole book in PDF format as our thank you for Subscribe to the newsletter .


From Dr. Bernhard Ruetz

“Who hasn’t dreamt of stepping back into history and experiencing those historical events as they were happening, or meeting historical figures face to face? A journey back through time is absolutely possible, even if just in our mind. After all, history speaks to us through pictures, writings and buildings. It patiently awaits our questions, and tells us stories about what once was.

I would like to take you on such a journey: We will travel together back to five different stages in the lifetime of an important building and hotel in the city of Zurich – the Utoschloss – an erstwhile palace that is now home to the Ambassador Hotel. First, in 1899, we meet Jakob Lassmann, a visionary real estate developer and bold investor, who builds the Utoschloss. In 1925, we meet Emma Zschokke, an emancipated woman, creative entrepreneur and the first restaurateur at Utoschloss. In 1939, on the eve of World War II, we meet husband and wife team, Ziegler-Ott, and learn how their hotel became a retreat in that refuge during that fateful period. The next stop on the tour is 1968, when a piece of Swiss espionage history plays out in the Ambassador’s restaurant. We conclude our tour in more recent times, as the hotel becomes an unmistakable landmark.

The journey through time unfolds in our minds, but it is far more than a fantasy: As a historian, I have tried to get to know the protagonists as thoroughly as possible so that I could vividly portray their personalities and make believable utterances come out of their mouths. So, although the descriptions in my book are fictional, they are nevertheless solidly underpinned with historical facts. All the people we will meet really existed, and their activities and statements correspond to what I uncovered during my research and interviews with contemporary witnesses.”