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Geneva Travel Guide

About Geneva

The most famously cosmopolitan city in Switzerland thanks to the presence of the UN, Geneva doesn’t disappoint. First, there’s the prime location slap-bang in the heart of Europe and framed by the snow-capped peaks of the Jura Alps. Then, there’s the magnificent Lake Geneva (Lac Léman to locals) that still provides a hub for city life, as well as the location for the city’s most famous monument, the towering Jet d’Eau.

But while Geneva has no shortage of natural wonders, it is also a hub for diplomacy, watch-making and science, the latter thanks to the presence of CERN and its Large Hadron Collider just outside the city. The other two make their presence felt as well, not least in the shape of the Palais des Nations, the UN’s European headquarters, and the flagship stores of Patek Philippe and Piaget in the city centre’s boutique-lined boulevards.

Unsurprisingly, all this means Geneva is hardly the cheapest city to visit, with locals more likely to be spotted in Prada than Primark and prices for everything from hotels to eating out requiring a healthy budget. Nevertheless, bargains are there to be had, particularly in the arty Bains and Plainpalais areas, both of which are awash with flea markets and quirky contemporary galleries. Equally worth a visit is Carouge, a suburb founded by Sardinian immigrants and now one of the most popular places in the city once darkness falls.

Little money isn’t required for a day spent lounging on one of Geneva’s lake beaches either, with the Bains des Pâquis, which faces the Jet D’Eau, among the most popular. Built in the 1930s, the area also boasts a Turkish Bath and a series of quaint cafés, most of which come with a view of the lake and the paddle steamers that unhurriedly ply its waters. These steamers are also an inexpensive way to get a day out, with the wonderfully pretty Montreux and the vineyards just outside Vevey all within striking distance.

Key facts

Population:
201,741.
Latitude:
46.202812
Longitude:
6.147358

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Featured Hotels

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Mövenpick Hotel & Casino Geneva

Located in the International Centre Cointrin (ICC) business complex the Mövenpick Hotel & Casino Geneva is situated just 0.8km (0.5 miles) from the Palexpo Exhibition Centre and 15 minutes' drive from the city centre. Trendy types and the business community enjoy this mini-city which provides everything from an airline check-in desk and discotheque to a casino piano bar and business centre. In short a solid bet in terms of price and location.

Hotel De Genève

Just streets away from Lake Geneva itself, there are no whistles and bells at Hotel De Genève, but what you get is a plum location and a choice of 39 rooms which straddle the line between modern design and historic home comforts. It’s clean, cheap and offers free Wi-Fi and a breakfast buffet.

Genève Cottage

What it may lack in location, Genève Cottage more than makes up for in quality and quaintness. Situated 20 minutes from the city centre by train (with a 10-minute walk), this family-run hotel is a home away from home with individually decorated sleeping quarters, queen-sized beds and modern en suite bathrooms. Ask for a room at the back of the house to enjoy a little more peace, plus views of the lovely gardens.

Starling Residence Geneva

Not only does the Starling Residence Geneva boast a supreme selection of 93 modern, clean and restful rooms and studios, but the staff are amongst some of the best in the business. With flatscreen TVs, free Wi-Fi and free travel cards all available, this is the best budget accommodation in the city.

Le Richemond

Gigi author Colette enjoyed her own suite at Le Richemond, one of Geneva's most established high-end hotels. The property rewards visitors with an enviable setting on the banks of the Rhône and 109 sumptuously appointed rooms and suites. There are also four flexible meeting spaces with its Le Jardin restaurant serving fine Italian cuisine. Additional facilities include a spa and limousine service.

Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva

Billed as Geneva's first hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva has been standing on the shores of Lake Geneva since 1834. Modern highlights include a spa and fitness facilities, but the real pull lies in the chance to sample the charm of a bygone era. If you've got the cash, this is arguably the finest hotel in Geneva.