A journey to Switzerland is wrapped in a mystery. In winter people set off for Switzerland to go skiing and snowboarding (the season lasts up to March inclusively). In summer, it is warm and sunny there, and as much as beautiful, thus people go there to feast eyes on the small towns, the castles, the snowy tops, and the lakes. However, amid rather expensive Switzerland, Geneva is notable for its luxury hotels — not least of all, because the headquarters of diverse international organizations are located there (the UN, the Red Cross, the WTO, the ECNA, etc.). A numerous number of people arrive in Geneva on business trips, and they are ready to pay any sum of money for accommodation at the hotels of the city (all the costs are at the expense of the company), which, certainly, does not contribute to the price drop, so the season in Geneva lasts practically all year round. What should the tourist do, who is eager to go sightseeing not only in Geneva, but also around the region (including Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux, Chillon Castle, and Nyon) and herewith is not willing to overpay for the hotel. Alternatively, it is worth taking into consideration not only Geneva, but the very Lausanne (where sometimes prices happen to come rather high, because the IOC is situated there), though, better still take a closer look at the French small towns, located nearby, and ideally — in the countryside. But to tell the truth, the latter option is suitable only for those, who is desirous of going to a trip by car, because from my perspective the public service vehicle in the French province is organized disgustingly.
If it is Geneva (French: Genève) that you are interested in and you want to take a pretty long spell in town, at least 2-3 days, hence you are to put up with go sky high prices and other peculiarities of the hotels in Geneva. These include, inter alia, not a very substantial breakfast (as a rule, only coffee with croissant and cornflakes). On the plus side, in a majority of hotels each guest is provided with the free public service vehicle card around Geneva, including inland water transport, which is rather convenient, especially if you don’t have much time for getting acquainted with the town. Every little helps.
What Area is the Best to Stay in Geneva?
Cornavin Railway Station Area
To stay near Cornavin railway station in Geneva, arguably, will be convenient for those, who travel by car, considering that there is a large public parking lot right near the railway station, and for those who arrive in Geneva by train. The area around the railway station is located within a 10-minute walk from the historic center of the city and Geneva Lake. It will take you 15 minutes to get to the airport and the international conference centre by train. Given the fact that the railway station is located too close and liveliness of the streets near the railway station, the hotel should be chosen among those, where the air conditioning system is definitely installed and acoustic isolation is fantastic, otherwise it will be stifling (if the windows are closed), or too noisy (if the windows stay open). Some hotels, by the way, realize their weak spots and offer ear muffs to the guests. A moderate price for the room means only that the hotel is rather worn out and badly in need of renovation and there is neither air conditioning system nor acoustic isolation, or both are gone. It is easy to verify this fact through careful examination of the comments about the hotels in the booking sites: if it is true, the travelers usually do not keep silence and write about multiple drawbacks. Taking into consideration the infrastructure, if anything, the area is not bad: there are many street food courts (however, about 8 p.m only the turkish kebab houses stay open), and the public transport keeps to its schedule, with the route network allowing you to get to practically any point of the city. An added benefit of the multy-storey hotels, located near the railway station, is an excellent view: if there are eight or more storeys, one may be lucky to see Geneva Lake with its famous fountain from the room. As far as disadvantages of the near railway station hotels are concerned, that there are “women of the night” in some streets, close to the railway station, but I personally haven’t come across any of them, thus it is more likely that you won’t fall with them. From the list of the hotels in that area I can recommend you Hotel Cornavin Geneve, Hotel Suisse SA, Hotel Cristal Design, and Hotel Les Arcades.
The most fashionable place for spending your vacation in Geneva is Montblanc embankment (quai du Mont-Blanc), from where an amazing view opens onto the lake and in fair weather onto the cognominal mountain, from the upper stories one can feast eyes on Geneva Old Town. It is a pleasure to have evening strolls along the lake and to feed swans. It takes you 10 minutes on foot to get from the embankment to the central railway station and the Old Town as well, as little as cross the river. The infrastructure is also at a good level: there are a lot of restaurants —both expensive and pompous, with Michelin stars, and Starbucks. The largest drawback of the area is the prices of the hotels. However, if the cost of the room roughly EUR 500 per night and higher doesn’t bewilder you — you can easily stay at the famous hotels, such as Mandarin Oriental Geneva or Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva. Little less costly — Hotel Bristol or The New Midi. While booking it is important to bear in mind, that in Geneva, some amount of money is quite frequently blocked on your plastic card (it may reach up to the full cost of accommodation) and will be unblocked after you have settled accounts with the hotel. In other words, to be on the save side it is worth to stock up the sum of money, which at least twice as much as the sum you want to spend on accommodation. It stands to reason, that one can stumble upon it not only booking the hotels at the embankment (and not only in Geneva), but, by my reckoning, in that case the reserve sum reaches a disastrous scale, and this is worth taking into consideration while planning you budget.
Geneva's Old Town
The authenticity lovers can’t help being attracted to Geneva Old Town (Vieille-Ville; as a reference point it is convenient to use St. Pierre Cathedral, Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Genève), moreover the genuine medieval buildings have been preserved there, and some of them host hotels. The other hotels in that part of city are not located in new buildings either, thus some drawbacks are typical for them: poor internet service (in old buildings wi-fi network is far worse, than in contemporary ones – isn’t the matter in the thickness of the walls?), there is no elevator or only a tiny one, furthermore there is usually neither an air conditioning system, nor a strongbox, and the bathroom fixtures should be renovated. If you set off for Geneva by car, it is worth taking into account, that not all the hotels in the Old Town can boast own parking lots, and it is quite possible that the only suitable option turns out to be the parking lot near the railway station and you are either to walk on foot or to turn to the public service vehicle. In order to avoid it, you are to carefully examine, what exactly is that the hotels offer when it comes to the parking place (whether the parking lot is directly near the hotel or within some distance from it), and if you have some questions you’d better clarify them before booking. The price of accommodation in the historic centre of Geneva again is not so humane, however, there is a silver lining — the shopping streets, the honey-drop coffee shops on the cozy squares, filled with flowerpots, and the embankment with the swans, and the main city sightseeing attractions. Such options as Hôtel de La Cigogne, Hôtel Longemalle or Les Armures are to be considered.
Geneva Airport Surroundings
Also, from my perspective, a nice option for accommodation is Geneva International Airport area (sometimes it is called “Cointrin”). It is convenient to stay here if you have late arrival and early departure. For these purposes, the ibis Geneve Airport or Holiday Inn Express Geneva Airport chains are quite suitable, you are to find out well in advance at what time the first free shuttle departures from the hotel and at what time the last one starts from the airport in order not to take a taxi. Accommodation in that area may be suitable for those travelers, who are not afraid of a 15-minute trip by train between the central part of Geneva (precisely Geneva central railway station) and the airport. For instance, you may stay at Crowne Plaza Geneva and every day commute to Geneva and around the neighborhood. It would be less expensive than booking the hotel of the same category in the city. Though, to tell the truth, there is a big number of well-advised travelers and if you have taken a liking to an option of accommodation near the airport, you need to book the hotel at a good time, and the earlier, the better.