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A thriving international city with a rich local history, Geneva is one of Europe’s most elegant and fascinating cities. The International Red Cross, the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, CERN and a number of UN programs are headquartered here, as are many international banks and investment groups, so business travelers are exceptionally well accommodated here, which drives up the price of hotels and restaurants (which are already expensive in Switzerland in general).
Still, so long as the price tag doesn’t scare them off, leisure travelers also have much to enjoy here, from world-class shopping and gourmet restaurants to wonderful museums and outdoor pleasures. Even budget travelers can make a Geneva stop, so long as they’re prepared to be a bit creative in stretching their Euros. While some budget hotel options are available, most of the city’s lodgings are higher-end business hotels right on up to world-class luxury resorts. Here are the best hotels to stay at when you're visiting Geneva.
Best Overall: Ritz-Carlton, Hotel de la Paix
True to the well-known Ritz-Carlton brand, Hotel de la Paix balances sheer elegance with modern conveniences and amenities, as well as a local touch that’s hard to miss. Business travelers, families with kids, lovebirds on a romantic trip and any combination thereof will find the services and facilities that they need and careful attention from top-of-the-line staff.
Rooms, which range from the 248 square foot Classic Room to the 1,131 square foot Grace Kelly Suite, all feature contemporary design schemes, with muted, neutral colors, comfortable furniture (including work desks), Asprey bath amenities and plush terrycloth robes and slippers. Many rooms have full views of Lake Geneva and the Alps beyond; the others overlook a manicured neighborhood park, Square de Mont-Blanc.
On-site amenities include a fitness center, a 24-hour concierge, two gourmet bar-restaurants, as well as a Philippe Pascoët chocolate shop in the lobby. Like most of the city’s luxury hotels, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix is located in central Geneva, a short walk from all of the city’s historic sights.
Best Budget: Hotel Central
The sweet family-owned Hotel Central offers a huge array of rooms, from ultra-basic offerings to chic multi-bedroom apartments, but it’s the former that will be of most interest to the budget traveler. Two-bed and three-bed budget guestrooms feature a set of bunk beds, as well as a small desk/table, an in-room washbasin and shower and a shared hallway toilet. Similarly, spartan lodgings are available with Double or King-sized beds, though these rooms have their own toilet. (Worth the 20 Swiss Francs extra per night? Perhaps!) The rooms are spotless and many have little balconies, and even the bunk beds are reportedly quite comfy.
The Hotel Central doesn’t offer a ton in the way of amenities, but the in-room Continental breakfast is a nice touch, as is the complimentary Geneva Transport Card, which gets you free travel on public transport in the city. The location is, well, central. It’s in the heart of the old city, a few blocks from the University of Geneva and close to a number of Christian Reformation-related sites, including the Saint-Pierre Cathedral.
Best Luxury: Four Seasons Hotel de Bergues
In a city with a number of exquisite five-star hotels, the Four Seasons Hotel de Bergues stands out with its simply exceptional attention to detail and its extensive amenities. Rooms range from an elegant, light-filled standard guestroom with a Queen bed and cozy sitting area to the massive, palatial, Versailles-inspired Royal Suite, but all include full marble bathrooms, down pillows and duvets spread over top-quality mattresses, high-tech entertainment options (including an in-room movie and music library) and complimentary Bulgari toiletries.
Switzerland is known as a long-time pioneer in spa treatments, and the Four Seasons Hotel de Bergues is home to Geneva’s finest hotel spa, where both old and new techniques are available for guests to delve into. An indoor pool, three restaurants (plus room service), concierge services, a well-equipped gym with daily exercise classes, and a location in the heart of Geneva round out the usual amenities, but frequent Four Seasons patrons know that every guest is a VIP and should you need anything else, don’t hesitate to ask.
Best Boutique: Eastwest Hotel
The Eastwest is a design boutique hotel with a distinct style that combines a variety of Asian elements with sleek, contemporary European flair. The combination results in an oasis in the heart of the city; one that feels modern, cozy and utterly relaxing. Guestrooms are decorated in black and white with bursts of bright fuchsia, burgundy, and jade green. All rooms have full bathrooms with tubs, Frette bedsheets and bath linens, free Wi-Fi and a Nespresso machine.
The on-site bar and restaurant reflect the Asian-European fusion theme in their menus, and a cozy outdoor patio and well-stocked indoor library offer public places to relax and unwind. A fitness room with Technogym equipment is also available, as are several small meeting rooms and other business facilities. The Eastwest hotel is well-located in central Geneva, just around the corner from the ornate gothic Monument Brunswick.
Best Business: Mandarin Oriental
If you need to wow VIP clients or colleagues in Geneva, do it over a private dining table in the Mandarin Oriental’s Presidential Suite with panoramic views of the city behind you, and after the deal is done, enjoy cocktails by the living room fireplace or cigars on the terrace. If you need larger meeting space, a more flexible convention-style floor space, or perhaps simply prefer something a bit lower-key, all of the above and more are available at this gorgeous hotel that does the Mandarin Oriental name proud.
Guests who aren’t in need of meeting space will also enjoy the chic, comfy, modern-styled rooms here, as they are fully wired with the latest technology and offer comfortable desk workspaces. An extensive on-site fitness center offers a full slate of equipment, as well as separate men’s and women’s sauna and hammam. If your haircut or manicure needs some attention before your meeting, an on-site unisex salon has you taken care of there, too. Three restaurants and a trendy bar will keep you fed and watered, though the hotel’s location in central Geneva makes it easy to dip into the city’s booming restaurant scene, as well.
Best for Families: Swiss Luxury Apartments
Space and flexibility are crucial when traveling with kids, and Swiss Luxury Apartments offers plenty of both, as well as the promised luxury stated in the name. These apartments, which range from one to three bedrooms, are fully serviced. This includes in-room continental breakfast, a daily stocking of the fridge in the kitchenette, as well as a restock of bathroom amenities, and — hold onto your hats, parents — free laundry service. (Is there any better freebie when traveling with kids, honestly?)
The apartments themselves are decorated mostly in white with clean lines and some modern art on the walls. Bathrooms include tubs big enough to throw a few children at once into, and the apartment is fully wired with contemporary technology, including smart TVs and a smartphone that’s free to use (this is how you’ll make international calls, and you can use it as a map to get around the city, as well). If the kiddos need to get outside, the Jardin des Alpes (home of the Brunswick Monument) is right around the corner, and the grassy Square du Mont-Blanc is just a block away. Larger parks are a quick trip via public transportation or a longer walk.
Best for Romance: Hotel d’Angleterre
Book a romance package and you and your sweetie will be greeted at the airport or train station by Hotel d’Angleterre’s Bentley and whisked to the elegant hotel. You’ll find a bottle of Ruinart champagne and a plate of chocolate-covered strawberries awaiting you in your room (choose one of the opulent suites for maximum romance). Once you’ve gotten settled and refreshed, head out for a one-hour boat cruise on Lake Geneva (weather permitting) followed by a candlelit dinner at the hotel’s gourmet restaurant. While you dine, a romantic turn-down service will happen, so upon returning to your room, you’ll find rose petals, candles and a bottle of massage oil. The next morning, enjoy an in-room breakfast with another glass of champagne.
Even without the full package, lovers will adore this elegant lakefront hotel and all of its amenities, including its fabulous location not far from the Bains des Paquis beach and swimming area.
Best B&B: Floatinn
Geneva’s best B&B is also perhaps its most unique: it’s on the Sanya, a six-room luxury catamaran docked directly on Lake Geneva, just at the edge of the city center, with a perfect view of the famous Jet d’Eau. Five rooms are double and one is a single and each has a private bathroom with shower. The lodgings are quite cozy but extremely comfortable, and the daily breakfast is delicious and ample.
The best part of a stay on the Floatinn is that it’s not stationary — every day, Captain Jean-Luc and his crew take guests for a sail to see some of the lake and the gorgeous surrounding Alpine scenery. For a bit extra, home-cooked dinner on the boat is available, usually featuring Swiss specialties like fondue and raclette.
Best Hostel: City Hostel Geneva
It doesn’t get much cheaper in Geneva than the City Hostel, but even here at the bottom of the price bracket, you’ll find this hostel to be of surprisingly excellent quality. It’s simple, as most hostels are, with room offerings including mixed and women-only bunk-bed dorms, and private single and double rooms with shared bathroom facilities on each floor. Guestrooms and bathrooms are both spotlessly clean, as is the shared kitchen.
The hostel is located at the edge of central Geneva, in the Paquis neighborhood, near the train station and several gorgeous parks, and not far from the UN campus. Guests receive free Geneva transport cards, allowing them to use all local public transport for free during their stay. Wi-Fi is also free in the building itself, and in the evenings, the hostel shows English-language movies and guests can hang out in the public spaces and get to know each other. City Hostel is a rare family-friendly hostel, and even includes a children’s play area, well-stocked with toys and books.