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Where to book accommodation in Switzerland?

From Hotels to Vacation Rentals and Hiking Accommodation

Swiss Hotels | Hostels | Bed and Breakfast | Alternative Accommodation

Switzerland Vacation Rentals | Alpine Hiking Huts

Farm Stays/Sleeping in Straw | Family Villages REKA | Camping and Caravan Sites

Hotel Tips

Accommodation in Switzerland ranges from lavishly decorated 5 Star establishments and feudal castles to trendy design hotels and simple rooms.

Swiss hotels - from luxury to rustic

We've been discovered by the English as a tourist destination at the end of the 19th century and traders have been travelling through Switzerland since the middle ages. Needless to say that many historic hotel rooms would have a story to tell if only they could talk.

However, if you are used to North American spacious room standards, you could be in for a surprise. High priced real estate does make for smaller rooms. "Double bed" doesn't mean that you can expect a queen or even king size bed, let alone two queen sized beds in a double room. Often, Swiss hotels still push two twin beds next to each other that count for double beds. It does make for a good night sleep though ;-). If you insist on a "real double bed", ask specifically for a "queen", a "French bed" or "lit matrimonial".

Air conditioning is not standard either. The really hot part of the season doesn't last long, and so we make due with opening the windows at night. Some bathrooms are handkerchief sized, equipped with a shower rather than both, bathtub and shower.

If you are looking for certain standards, look for star-rated hotels. Its standards are strictly controlled by the Swiss Hotel Association (SHA). The selection is rigorous and demanding. It will tell you the standard of professionalism and exactly what amenities you can expect.

Simplified Hotel Star explanation

5***** Luxury hotels, highest standard of service, expect the best
4**** First class hotels, above average service
3*** Comfortable nice quality hotels
2** Standard Hotels, good value
1* Budget hotels, basic needs
Swiss Lodges, a separate category by the Swiss Hotel Association that don't qualify for star ratings for various reasons but mostly are too small to fit into any category. But often they offer a personal ambiance. Prices vary according to the service provided.

What can't be rated though are friendliness, charm and taste in decorating. Don't dismiss smaller, family run non-star accommodations from the get-go. Read the reviews carefully! It could very well be that these establishments treat you as royalty, whereas a 5-star hotel can give you all the "technical" bells and whistles but also a nondescript, impersonal and sterile environment.

Below a list of websites to search for accommodation in Switzerland:

Swiss Hotels

Finding the right swiss hotel just got a whole lot easier
HotelsCombined crawls over 100 online booking engines to find the best priced hotel options for you.

Your advantage? You don't have to check each and every major booking website to find the best deal - HotelsCombined will do that for you - with just one click.

The Switzerland Travel Centre (STC) lists more than 2000 Hotels star-rated by the Swiss Hotel Associations - SHA (rigorous control system) with detailed descriptions.

They also list the specific Swiss Lodges I mentioned above in the "Hotel star explanation". You can book directly through their site.

TripAdvisor is well known for its reviews. But you also can book directly through their site.

If you want to know what other travellers have to say, check it out. A word of caution concerning reviews: No matter where you read them, read more than one review. Travellers have different needs and rate a hotel accordingly. What's not good for one person might be of no concern to another.

RolliHotel - Wheelchair accessible Hotels: Hotel booking sites mention if a hotel is accessible by wheelchair or not. But if you want to make sure about all wheelchair amenities, the RolliHotel website lists very specific and additional information that are equally important such as distance from train station, handicap parking and so on.
If you don't know the name of the hotel, you can search by region. Just click on the Swiss map next to the search option box and a list with hotels in that particular area will pop up.
Pay ½ Price for Hotels! If you travel frequently to Switzerland, or plan to stay in hotels rather than apartments for an extended holiday or business trip, you might want to check out the HotelCard, a half-price subscription for hotels.

The card costs (at this time) CHF 95 and is valid for one year. Not every hotel participates, so before you sign up check the accommodations offered. Save even more with a subscription for 2 or 3 years.

Top of Accommodation Switzerland

Swiss Hostels

HostelWorld, as the name implies, lists all hostels in Switzerland. In addition, they list some nice budget hotels as well as a few Bed and Breakfast accommodations.

And if you need travel and medical insurance, you can book it through their website too. Trusted and secure.

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Bed & Breakfast

Bed and Breakfast Switzerland has their own star-rating system for its listed accommodations. The stars are given mostly due to the breakfast served, from simple to lavish.
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Alternative Switzerland Accommodation

Airbnb offers alternative lodgings and unique accommodations rented out by people who have a spare or guest room available. You share facilities with your host. This is a great way to save on accommodation and at the same time get to know how the Swiss live and hopefully the inside scoop on what's going on in the city. Some offer B&B style accommodation, but most of the time you are expected to prepare your own food. They also list private apartments by people who want to rent out their apartments while they are on an extended vacation.

Airbnb also lists some pretty unique accommodations, from themed hotels to castle stays and chalets. Practically, you find everything from simple living quarters to luxurious and excitingly unique accommodations.

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Switzerland Vacation Rentals

Interhome has more than 3,000 self-catering style accommodations on offer. They check their listed properties on a regular basis for quality assurance.

Mostly, apartments, houses and chalets are rented out for a minimum of one week (only on rare occasions per night). This is a great way to save on accommodation if you stay in one place for a week, especially if you travel in a group or with your family. Definitely ideal for hiking and skiing vacations.

Home Away is a leading international vacation rental broker and lists over 1,650 holiday apartments in Switzerland.

Easy to use interface. Holiday houses and apartments can be found nation wide or by region, by price or special offers. Most are listed per week, occasionally for a minimum stay of two nights.

e-domizil lists 7800+ vacation rentals. This is a German Company and on the market since 2000. Their listings are ever expanding. Objective and lots of additional information such as checklists for what to look for before you leave home as well as a list with official holidays in Switzerland. You can even book your rental car through their site.

If you need help before you book, contact them by phone during business hours - keep the time difference in mind.

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Alpine Hiking Accommodation

The Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) is the go-to place for Alpine hiking, mountaineering and climbing. It operates 150 huts that offer basic overnight accommodation, often with food.
Sentiero lists hut's far off the beaten path. Be prepared for simplicity but you will get a glimpse on how most of us alpine folk still live.

Unfortunately, the actual mountain huts (Berghütte or Maiensäss) are still listed in German only. Use google translation to get an idea, and then contact the owners. If they speak English, all should be well.

Naturfreundehäuser - Homes for Nauter's Friends. Specialty alpine lodging - from simple alpine huts to hiking hotels.

The website is only in German and French available, but with the interactive map it is easy to find accommodation. Use google translation (or similar) to find out details, and then contact the hut owners (addresses listed).

Huts in the Canton Tessin/Ticino. The site is only available in in Italian and German, but it's easy to find the listings. Click on the preferred language. An interactive map pops up. Hover your mouse over the hut numbers, and the name of the hut will show up. Then use the right column to look for the hut name, click on it, and an informational page shows up with phone numbers, names and websites to contact the owners directly.
Bergbüro (Mountain Office) has probably the most comprehensive list of Mountain huts (Berghäuser). This is a site in German and French but you can search mountain huts in the area where you plan to walk, hike or trek. For example, use only "Gebiet" in the cklickdown menu to search for all huts. If you know the name of the hut you want to stay, fill it in where you see "Suchbegriff". Then use "Suche ohne Datumsbeschränkung" and click "Alle anzeigen". You also find a list of registered mountain guides - "Bergführer suchen" - with address and email.
Camping while hiking. Wild camping is - officially - not allowed. Though sometimes there is no alternative if you hike in high alpine areas, especially in case you failed to make advance reservations in the touristy season. If you decide to take your tent with you, look for secluded places not easily seen when others choose the same route. If you choose to camp near an alpine hut, ask for permition if the owner is there. Be respectful of nature, put up your tent as late as possible and clear camp early in the morning. Don't leave any garbage behind. I camp frequently and never got into troubles. But don't send me the fine if you get one :-)
You find the link to official campsites here.
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Farm Stays; Sleeping in Hay

Sleeping in Straw. "Schlaf im Stroh" are Bed & Breakfast accommodations on farms. All participants are listed on their website, but you will have to book directly with the farmer. Bring your own sleeping bag (trust me; you'll be glad you did. I grew up on a farm, and while it is fun to sleep in hay or straw, it can get prickly if you are not a perfectly still sleeper:). Blankets are provided. Languages spoken are listed on the site. Some are more "luxurious" than others. Sometimes you really sleep in the hay barn, at other places sleeping accommodations are separated from the actual barn. Often they also offer bunk beds with matrasses if you don't want to join in your kids fun.
Apartments in Farm Houses. Swiss Holiday Farms offer apartments on farms. A great opportunity to show children where food is grown and farm animals live. You can but don't have to participate in daily farm life. Description in English, but offers are in French and German only. Click on "Details und Buchen" and pictograms will show you what amenities and activities you will find on that particular farm.
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Family Villages REKA

Family Holiday Accommodation REKA. REKA Holiday villages are ideal for families. For some Swiss families, holidays would be out of reach if they wouldn't have the opportunity to collect REKA money during the year, either from their employer, by participating in department store saving programs or even from their bank. Even if you don't have these opportunities to collect REKA money, you still can profit from steep discounts on holiday accommodation.
You can get a REKA Card and top it up with REKA money through their website.
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Camping and Caravan Sites

Campsites are classified according to facilities. You can get a map with campsites from the tourist offices or check them (and make reservations) directly at the SwissCamps Website. If you consider tenting instead of using hostels or hotels, be aware that most campsites are a little outside cities and villages. It's maybe not ideal for sightseeing, unless you rent a car or bike since busses might not stop directly at the campsite. Booking ahead in the summer season (most campsites are closed in winter) is recommended. Camping in the rough is not allowed in Switzerland.

If this page was helpful to you I appreciate if you help spreading the info. Thank you!

Disclosure: I added the links above to help you find the best accommodation in Switzerland. I am not paid to list these links and I don't receive any free stuff out of this. A couple of booking sites are linked to an affiliate program and I do get a small commission if you book through them, at no extra cost for you! Thank you for your support. It helps keep SwissVistas going :-)
Last updated: December 2015

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Hotel Reviews

Stars don't guarantee a personal, extraordinary or special treatment, even though one would expect it. Do check hotel reviews before you book, but read more than one or two to get the feel for the place. What's acceptable for one person is maybe out of question for the next.

Some make you feel at home, others lack charm or positive attitude.

For years, I returned to a private guest house in Zermatt, to a room decorated with about 7 different carpets from different origins, furnished with a squeaky bed and creaky floorboards (thank goodness for the carpets) and a shower so tiny I hardly could turn (keep your smirk to yourself - I am a healthy woman:). The elderly, enthusiastic and charming Lady of the house made up for everything. What's more, she always had the best tips ready and was eager to know my preferences for breakfast to shop accordingly.

How to save on accommodation

  • In tourist areas, look for hotel accommodations that offer packages, meaning ski passes or summer excursions could be included for a little more than the actual room price.
  • High season is higher priced than when you visit outside the touristy season. Check hotels low, mid and high season lodgings on booking sites. Sometimes, planning your visit only a week earlier or later can make a big difference.
  • Demi-pension - or "Halb Pension" means half board. For just a little more than the actual price for accommodation, you can often book "Halb Pension", where breakfast and either lunch or dinner are included (drinks not included except tea/coffee for breakfast). If you are not a gourmet who prefers to dine only in the best of the best food temples, this can stretch your food budget considerably.

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