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Shopping in Geneva

You'll likely do as much window shopping as buying in Geneva, as the city centre encompasses both wildly exclusive designer boutiques and high street staples. Watches are its hallmark and you could spend days browsing Swiss brands from Swatch to Patek Philippe to Raymond Weil. Under this glittering veneer there are alternative gifts to be rooted out in the city's independent stores and markets.

Key areas

Geneva's exclusive shops centre around the chic Rue du Rhône, Rue de la Confédération, Rue du Marché and Rue de la Croix-d'Or. Watch and jewellery shops line these streets quite literally with gold. Head to the Old Town and the St-Gervais and Pâquis districts for a stroll around the antiques quarter and art galleries, or Carouge for independent clothes shops, local artists and artisan food stores.

Markets

Geneva has many outdoor markets. The flower market on the Place du Molard and the clothes and book market on the Place de la Madeleine (during spring and summer) are open daily. Flea markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Plaine de Plainpalais (0630-1715 in winter; 0630-1815 in summer). On Tuesday, Friday and Sunday mornings, the same spot is used for a colourful fruit and vegetable market (Tue and Fri 0630-1415, Sun 0830-1815). On Thursday, regional handicrafts are sold at the Place de la Fusterie (0800-2000).

Shopping centres

The main department stores in Geneva are Bongénie, Rue du Marché 34, Manor, Rue Cornavin 6, and Globus, Rue du Rhône 48, whose buzzing food hall is a great place to have lunch alongside Geneva's professional jet-set.

Opening hours

General opening hours for shops in Geneva are Monday to Friday 0900-1900 (Thursday until 2100) and Saturday 0900-1800.

Souvenirs

Geneva's clichés exist for a reason, and it's worth indulging them – the chocolate, in particular, is difficult to beat. Spend time salivating over the shelves of Chocolats Rohr on Place du Molard or Martel, Rue de la Croix-d'Or, particularly around Easter when the window displays are real masterpieces. Head to Victorinox on Rue du Marché to pick up a classic Swiss penknife and look out for the intricate silhouettes of pastoral scenes that adorn glassware and fondue sets in the tourist shops.

Tax information

VAT in Geneva is charged at a rate of 7.7% and can be reclaimed if total purchases in a shop amount to more than CHF 300, as long as the purchaser is resident outside Switzerland and the goods are exported within 30 days.

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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.