Where should I stay when visiting Switzerland? If that’s the question on your mind, our Switzerland accommodation guide will help you find the answer. Swanky hotels for the super-rich. Heidi-esque huts for romantics. Cool campsites for families and adventurers. Hostels for budget travellers — Switzerland isn’t short of options.
Accommodation in Switzerland — where should I stay when visiting Switzerland?
As a general rule, you can turn up in any Swiss town at any time of the year and find a hotel room. However, booking ahead – especially in the summer and winter high seasons – is strongly advised.
Swiss accommodation is relatively expensive but rarely disappointing — expect high standards, conscientious management and good service just about everywhere. And that goes for the clean, good quality hostels as well as higher-end hotels.
If you're into culinary culture, find out about eating and drinking in Switzerland — you might want to choose your location and accommodation based on regional food specialties.
In addition, given that you voted Switzerland one of the most beautiful countries in the world, it'll come as no surprise that many of Switzerland's accommodation options are stunningly sited, whether you opt for lakeside luxury, an isolated Alpine chalet, or an elegant apartment in an Old Town centre.
Wherever you check in, ask for a guest card — this free perk for overnight visitors can give substantial discounts for local attractions and transport.
Despite complications over pricing, Swiss hotels concentrate on value for money. You’ll find that even the cheapest places have rooms that are perfectly comfortable and clean.
The most expensive hotels are in the centres of the largest cities, where prices for the largest suites can reach into the stratosphere.
At the other end of the scale, a hotel advertising itself as “garni” has no restaurant, and only serves breakfast. These are mainly found in the suburbs of towns and cities, and at less popular locations in the countryside.
Best hotels in Switzerland
Best for luxury-lovers:
Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne: restored to its 1861 grandeur, set in ten-acre waterside gardens, and serving award-winning food, this is one of Switzerland’s finest hotels.
What to do in Lausanne: cruise along the Lavaux Vineyards on a 2-hour boat trip on Lake Geneva.
Best for alpine adventurers:
Kulmhotel Gornergrat, Zermatt: currently the highest hotel in the Alps, day-trippers come to gawp at the Matterhorn from the terrace. After they've gone, it's uniquely atmospheric.
What to do in Zermatt: hop aboard the world's highest cable car to discover the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
Best for families:
Hotel Central, Geneva: this affordable hotel occupies the top floors of a building below the Old Town, with great-value rooms for three, four and five people.
What to do in Geneva: travelling with kids? A self-guided scavenger hunt and city tour might just keep the whole family happy.
Best for outrageous extravagance:
Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, St Moritz: this legendary five-star is one of Europe’s swankiest hotels, the haunt of film stars and princesses.
Explore more places to stay in St Moritz.
What to do in St Moritz: visiting in summer? Book a full-day trekking tour along the sunny side of the Alps around St Moritz and the Engadine valley. While you're at it, discover the best things to do in Switzerland this summer.
Where's the cheapest place to stay in Switzerland? If that question is bugging you, a hostel is likely to be your accommodation of choice. They're often extremely good value, and offer clean, comfortable dorms, plus a choice of rooms.
City and country locations can get very full between June and September, so book in advance.
All ski resorts have places offering dormitory accommodation, often just one room with as many mattresses as possible squeezed into it side by side.
The 150 or so Alpine huts have similar dorm accommodation, with bed prices rising according to how remote the place is.
Best hostels in Switzerland
Best for families:
What to do in Vitznau: treat yourself to a trip that combines taking a trian to Mount Rigi with visiting Rigi Kaltbad Mineral Baths.
Best for nightlife-lovers:
Viva Hostel, Chur: this lively modern hostel has a range of rooms, some en suite, plus two bars and a dance club.
What to do in Chur: enjoy an art and culture discovery tour.
Best for history buffs on a budget:
Bern Backpackers/Hotel Glocke, Bern: this Old Town fixture benefits from a central location and excellent facilities.
What to do in Bern: into Insta? Take a photogenic discovery tour .
Most are closed for cleaning between roughly 10am and 6pm, and lock their doors sometime between 10pm and midnight.
Most are also closed during the low seasons — spring and autumn in the mountains, winter in the cities. Evening meals, where available, are bargain.
Non-HI members pay an extra fee, or you can buy annual membership on the spot. Membership is automatic after any six nights of paying the supplement.
Best youth hostels in Swizterland
Best for beauty on a budget:
Ostello/Jugendherberge, Bellinzona, Ticino: a mighty fine hostel housed in the grand, cliffside Villa Montebello.
What to do in Bellinzona: beat the queues by pre-booking your ticket to explore Bellinzona's three UNESCO castles.
Best for chic simplicity:
Jugendherberge, Basel: a 15min walk south of the wooden bridge, this relaxed riverside hostel is housed in converted stables.
What to do in Basel: foodies in town would do well to take a self-guided food tour of Basel.
The typical Swiss campsite is well equipped, well maintained, and classified from one to five stars. While sites are everywhere, booking ahead is recommended.
The higher the altitude the more limited the opening times — many close outside the summer season (May/June–Sept/Oct).
The Camping Card International (Carnet) gives discounts and covers you for third-party insurance. It’s available in the UK from Camping & Caravanning Club.
Best camping in Switzerland
Best for families:
Camping Jungfrau, Lauterbrunnen: this large family-oriented campsite has six-person bungalows and dorms in addition to tent space.
What do to in Lauterbrunnen: take a trip to Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest-altitude railway station,
Best for nature-lovers:
Bergheimat Campsite, Saas-Fee: guests here have free access to an indoor swimming pool at the attached Hotel Bergheimat. It's near a supermarket and the Hohsaas cable car.
Discover more great places to stay in Saas-Fee.
What to do in Saas-Fee: head to nearby Zermatt to join a paragliding adventure offering magnificent Matterhorn views.
Chalets and apartments
Self-catering accommodation in holiday chalets, bungalows and apartments is very popular. As a result, in the likes of Zermatt, Verbier and Gstaad, you should book at least six months ahead.
Interhome is one of the largest international agencies, handling more than 5000 properties all over Switzerland.
High-season bookings are for a minimum of seven nights (Saturday to Saturday), but in the low season you may be able to find properties for three or four nights.
Best chalets and apartments in Switzerland
Best for history lovers:
City Chalet Historic, Interlaken: close to the centre, this protected heritage building is surrounded by a large garden and offers rustically furnished studios and apartments.
Discover more of the best chalets and apartments in the Bernese Oberland, and places to stay in Interlaken.
What to do in Interlaken: try your hand at tandem paragliding.
Best for adventurous families:
Bergheimat, Saas-Almagell, Valais: a few miles from Allalin Glacier, this boasts mountain views, home comforts, and offers easy access to hiking, skiing and cycling.
What to do in Valais: head to the snow-kiting school on the Simplon Pass.
Active types will also want to read up on the best outdoor experiences in Switzerland.
Run by the Swiss Alpine Club, the joys of staying in a Swiss mountain inn or hut are immense, though the term “hut” is a tricky one to pin down — it can refer to varying styles of simple rustic accommodation.
That said, they tend to possess unique character as a result of their spectacular, isolated locations, and history — many are farmhouses converted to meet the needs of holidaying British gentlemen and ladies on their summer tours of the Swiss Alps.
In general, you can expect a wooden building in the local architectural style, with rustic decor and an informal atmosphere of cosy communality.
Hikers are the main clientele, and Swiss families may return season after season to walk their favourite paths and catch up on news from their favourite Berghaus.
How much does it cost to stay in Switzerland?
As in other parts of the world, advance booking will secure rooms at a cheaper price, particularly if you’re prepared to accept a “no refund” deal if you cancel your room, and you book well in advance.
Breakfast is included in the room price at virtually all hotels apart from the very cheapest and the most expensive.
Note that in many mountain resorts, prices quoted for the summer season are bed and breakfast, whiles those quoted for the winter season tend to be half-board. Ask for confirmation.
Be aware that in most places you'll have to pay a small local tax of a few francs on top of the main accommodation fee. This usually needs to be paid in cash to the hotel or hostel — if you've pre-booked, it won't have been included in advance payments.
This tax — sometimes called a kurtax, as it has its origins in local taxes once paid for curative treatment in spas — varies in amount from canton to canton.
If this run-down of accommodation in Switzerland has you hankering to book your trip, The Rough Guide to Switzerland and our run-down of things not to miss in Switzerland will help you plan. Our Switzerland travel tips will also come in handy.
Not a fan of planning? Book a hassle-free tailor-made trip to Switzerland, with customisable itineraries curated by local experts covering everything from unforgettable highlights of Switzerland, to touring the Grand Circle.
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