If you’re wondering where to stay in Switzerland, this guide is for you. Whether it’s where to stay in Zurich, Lucerne or Interlaken, in a ski resort or in an Alpine village, this article tells you all you need to know about accommodation in Switzerland.
Whatever your budget or style of accommodation you prefer, Switzerland has it all.
At the cheaper end of the scale, you can book into a campsite in summer, or if you hanker after five star style and service plus once-in-a-lifetime views then you’ll find it all in this breathtakingly beautiful country.
Whether you prefer upscale hotels or great value hostels, accommodation costs are going to eat up a large chunk of your budget when visiting Switzerland.
Staying in the right place can also help you to make the most of your time – while ensuring it’s as enjoyable as possible. So it’s super important to get it right!
Covered in this article is what to think about and look out for before making a booking, to ensure you get the best out of your stay as well as maximum value for money.
Also included below are the different styles of accommodation you can choose from, including historic properties, places with infinity pools, spa resorts and much more.
To round things off, we’ve also added a helpful tips section.
If you’d prefer to listen to the information covered in this guide instead of reading it, you can do so on Episode 68 of the Holidays to Switzerland podcast.
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What's in this Article
Things to consider before deciding where to stay in Switzerland
There are plenty of different styles of accommodation in Switzerland to choose from.
As well as the usual go-to options of hotels and vacation rentals, there are also hostels, B&Bs (bed and breakfasts) and campsites. There’s also some quite unique accommodation experiences too.
All of these options, plus some important things to consider when choosing, are covered right here.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the matter of location, before moving onto practicalities, and then the styles of accommodation Switzerland has to offer.
Probably the most important factor of all is the location. Depending on how you’re planning to travel around Switzerland, there are a few things here to consider as well.
If you’ll be travelling by public transport, how close is the hotel to the nearest train station? Or is there a bus stop nearby?
If you’ll be travelling around by car, does the accommodation have parking facilities?
These are a couple of things that can be quite important when you’re deciding which hotel, apartment, B&B or hostel to stay in.
Another thing to think about is whether or not the accommodation has air conditioning.
If you’re travelling in summer – particularly in July and August – then temperatures can be very hot. This is especially true in the lowlands, and more so than you might expect in a country popular with winter sports enthusiasts.
Air conditioning isn’t all that common in Switzerland, yet it’s a very welcome thing to have during the hottest months.
Do keep an eye out for accommodation with air conditioning when you’re booking for a stay in summer.
If you’re travelling with a family, you might be keen to book accommodation which offers a separate bedroom for the children.
That’s another thing to keep in mind as you’re sorting through all the options.
Accommodation types in Switzerland
Hotels are probably the most popular style of accommodation in Switzerland and there are so many different standards and types of hotels to choose from.
International chains like Marriott and Mövenpick are of course represented but there are also some Swiss chains such as Sunstar Hotels, Sorell Hotels, and Swiss Quality Hotels.
Hotels come in all types too, including wellness hotels, historic hotels, luxury hotels, budget hotels, and even some historic castle hotels packed with local charm and character.
One big bonus of staying in a hotel is that all the amenities are right there.
Most hotels will have a restaurant, so you can eat breakfast at the hotel before setting off for the day. Having a hearty breakfast daily can really set you up before a busy time spent sightseeing.
When staying at a hotel you may also have the benefit of having a concierge service – or at least the reception staff. If you need any assistance, they can help with matters like booking taxis or tours.
Many hotels also have WiFi throughout to keep you connected, and you have the comfort factor of knowing that there’s someone on hand should you need any assistance.
There are downsides to staying in a hotel, though. These include the lack of space and also the room capacity.
For families, this can be particularly important because many hotels can only accommodate two, three or sometimes four people per room.
If you’re a family of four or five, that sometimes means booking two rooms – and clearly there are cost implications here.
Lots of hotels in Switzerland offer rates that include breakfast. That can be a great way to save some of your spending money, because you’ve already prepaid for at least one meal a day.
Some Swiss hotels also include a half board option,which can be quite popular among Europeans.
Even if that’s not something you’ve come across before, it’s definitely worth thinking about paying for a half board rate.
This includes not only your breakfast, but also your evening meal so it can actually work out to offer very good value for money.
The more modern hotels tend to provide tea and coffee making facilities, and sometimes a fridge in the rooms but some older style hotels do not.
Always check all the hotel room amenities before you book, just so you know exactly what’s covered.
It’s also worth checking for hotel facilities such as air conditioning and elevators if you want or expect those.
Hotels that are housed in historic buildings, for example, may not have these features, as the required infrastructure wasn’t put in place (or wasn’t available) back when they were built.
There are some amazing infinity pools in Switzerland.
Five star hotels with infinity pools include the Riffelalp Resort with Matterhorn panoramas; Hotel Villa Honegg with stunning views over Lake Lucerne; and the Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Pontresina where the mountain view infinity pool is housed in a big glass dome.
There are also four and three star options with infinity pools.
The Belvedere Strand Hotel in Speiz, for example, is a fabulous four star hotel. From the infinity pool, there are views of Spiez Castle, on the shores of the lake.
There’s also the three star Park Hotel Brenscino Brissago, with an infinity pool overlooking Lake Maggiore.
61 properties are classified as historic hotels by Switzerland Tourism. Among these is the Belle Epoch style Hotel Giessbach. This is home to Europe’s oldest funicular railway, which takes guests from Lake Brienz up to the hotel.
The Grimsel Hospiz on the Grimsel Pass was Europe’s first electrically heated hotel when it opened in 1932.
The Hotel Stern in Chur, meanwhile, dates back to 1677.
Swiss castle hotels, too, are quite popular.
One of these is the romantic Hotel Castello Seeschloss in Ascona, right on the shores of Lake Maggiore. There’s also the luxurious Chateau d’Ouchy in Lausanne (pictured below), which is a restored mediaeval castle.
- Lots of choice
- Services on site
- Meal plans can be good value
- Historic, spa or infinity pool hotels and more
- Limited room sizes
- Older properties may lack modern facilities
- Look for family rooms if applicable
- Consider half board rates where available
- Be prepared for fewer facilities in historic properties
Another popular style of accommodation in Switzerland is a vacation rental.
These are often referred to as an Airbnb, even though there’s a number of companies or platforms offering listings such as the Plum Guide, VRBO and even booking.com.
One of the advantages of staying in a vacation rental is that typically they offer more space than a traditional hotel.
That’s great if you’re travelling with a family, or as two couples, for example, or you just like to have some extra space where you can spread out a bit.
Depending on the location and size of the property that you’re renting, it can often be more cost effective than staying in a hotel.
If a family needed to rent two rooms in a hotel, for instance, then staying in a two bedroom apartment could be a lot more cost effective.
Vacation rentals also have the added bonus, in most cases, of having a kitchen, plus living areas.
By staying in a vacation rental, you have not only more space but also the option to prepare your own meals. This can save you quite a bit of money.
Often these properties will also have laundry facilities too.
Privacy and authenticity
Vacation rentals can also give you more privacy than hotels, as they’re often standalone apartments or houses.
Generally, even if you’re staying in an apartment block, you don’t have the comings and goings all the time like you do in a hotel.
They’re often more authentic, too, because you’re staying in a residential area or a little village rather than a tourist resort.
This means you can experience more of that authentic Swiss culture and daily life experience.
Of course, there are some drawbacks.
There’s no onsite restaurant, and often no housekeeping service either. Neither is there likely to be a front desk or concierge service.
Vacation rentals can also sometimes be located in residential areas that are further removed from the tourist attractions or transport hub.
Make sure you check these things carefully before booking, so you know where the rental is located in relation to what you want to visit.
Also check whether some guests might be accommodated on sofa beds, rather than in separate bedrooms.
Vacation rental pros:
- More privacy
- Increased space
- A more authentic local experience
Vacation rental cons:
- May be located further from transport and attractions
- No hotel amenities
Vacation rental tips:
- Look for a full kitchen if you want to self-cater
- Laundry facilities are ideal for longer stays
- Check regarding sofa beds versus bedrooms
Another style of accommodation available in Switzerland is a B&B. These are often smaller, and therefore more cosy and personal than a hotel.
Staying at a B&B can be a great way to connect with local hosts and with other travellers. Often there will be a communal lounge or living area.
At the end of the day, guests might meet there and discuss what they did that day, plus what their plans are for the next one. This can be a great way to meet other travellers.
B&Bs are often located in residential areas, or in smaller towns and villages.
They may offer a range of accommodation, from simple rooms with shared bathrooms to larger suites with their own private bathroom and living area.
Depending on where you are and the size of the property, sometimes there will be a choice. At other places, it may be just the one style of room that you can rent.
Breakfast is usually included, as the name suggests. Sometimes the host will also give you the option of including other meals for an additional fee.
B&B hosts are often very passionate about the area they live in, so they can give you insider tips and recommendations for things to see and do locally. You can ask them, for example, which is their favourite restaurant, or which hiking trails they prefer. It’s a more personal service.
The cost of staying at a Swiss B&Bs can vary widely. Rates can depend on the time of year, the amenities offered, the location and so on. Prices can be fairly similar to hotels, but you get a more homely experience. You can find B&Bs on platforms such as booking.com.
- Good way to meet other travellers
- Breakfast included in room rates
- Local advice and personal service
- May be limited room types
- Not always available, especially in city centres
- Check out what sort of breakfast is served
- Think about parking or public transport
- Research the local area
Hostels are another accommodation option in Switzerland.
This style of accommodation has typically, over the years, attracted the backpacking traveller who’s prepared to share a dormitory, plus a communal kitchen and bathroom facilities. Now hostels are attracting a much broader clientele.
Many hostels also offer single, twin, and double rooms and, in some cases, there are even family rooms.
Staying in a hostel therefore no longer necessarily means sharing a room with multiple strangers.
There are more than 50 Swiss youth hostels located across the country. Most of these have common areas such as kitchens, lounges and games rooms.
There are some traditional youth hostels with dorm rooms, but there’s also quite a number of boutique hostels.
These typically offer a more stylish experience – plus private rooms.
Some Swiss youth hostels even have amenities like onsite bars and rooftop terraces, and offer facilities such as bike rental and so on.
In fact there’s a couple of really interesting youth hostels in Switzerland.
Fancy staying in an 800-year-old castle? In Switzerland, you can. The Burgdorf Castle youth hostel is one hostel stay you’ll never forget.
Another great Swiss youth hostel can be found right next to Interlaken Ost railway station. Conveniently located, it also features a great restaurant and coffee shop.
You can find many hostels on platforms such as booking.com.
- Cheap rates
- Shared kitchens and lounges
- Some stylish hostels with great facilities
- Less privacy
- You may share with strangers
- Standards and room types vary a lot
- Seek out hostels offering private rooms
- Look for facilities such as a cafe, bar or bike rental
- Consider the Burgdorf Castle youth hostel for a unique place to stay
Another option worth considering is camping – but forget the fact that you think you’ve got to take a lot of equipment with you. The great plus is that many campsites in Switzerland provide everything you need.
Campsites are also one of the cheapest places to stay in Switzerland.
There are facilities at each campsite that might include onsite cabins, glamping accommodation and so forth.
In many instances, when you rent your accommodation it comes with all the equipment you need including your bed linen, crockery, cutlery and so on. Everything you need is supplied.
Some of the most popular camping grounds in Switzerland include Camping Jungfrau in Lauterbrunnen (featured in the two photos above), where we’ve stayed many times ourselves over the last two decades. After booking a mobile home/bungalow, all we had to provide each time was our own food.
This is a great way of giving the kids plenty of space to run around, too. You’re also close to nature this way, but with the convenience of having your own self-contained accommodation with a bathroom.
Campsite facilities here include a games room, a TV room, a kids’ playground and space to kick around a ball.
Camping Manor Farm in Interlaken is another popular site, as is Campo Felice Camping Village down on Lake Maggiore, near Locarno.
You can find many such places on booking.com.
Do keep in mind that some of the campsites are seasonal. They may only be open for stays between April and October, or thereabouts.
- All equipment can be supplied on site
- Good shared amenities
- Great for families
- Affordable rates
- Camping and glamping are often seasonal
- More basic accommodation
- Look for sites with good facilities
- Accommodation types include cabins, tents and glamping
Other places to stay
So we’ve covered hotels, hostels, camping, B&Bs and vacation rentals. But that’s not all. There are plenty of more unusual options when it comes to unique places to stay in Switzerland.
You can stay in a wine barrel, hire a yurt or glamping pod, sleep on straw, spend the night in a former prison in Lucerne, or call a circus wagon near Stein am Rhine home for a night or two.
You could even sleep in the old toll booth on the main bridge in Bern, or stay in a hotel suspended on stilts over Lake Neuchatel.
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Tips and info about where to stay in Switzerland
There are a few other things to keep in mind when you’re booking your accommodation. In Switzerland, almost every district or city council has its own city tax. This is a small sum that’s payable on a per night basis, per adult.
In some cases, there’s also a cost for children as well, but in most cases it applies to adults only.
The fee usually depends on the star rating of the accommodation, and it’s usually added to your final hotel bill. When you’re staying in a vacation rental, though, you might need to pay the charges separately to the landlord.
You may get something in return for paying the city tax. In some locations, the local council or tourist office will give you a guest card. This entitles you to discounts or free travel on public transport so you might get reduced entry fees to some of the local museums and that sort of thing.
Passport and credit card
When you’re checking into your accommodation in Switzerland, it’s not unusual for your passport details to be recorded, so don’t be surprised by it. A photocopy may be taken of your passport and kept on file whilst you’re staying at the hotel.
You might also be asked for your credit card. A security deposit is often held on the card until you check out.
Assuming there’s been no damage and you haven’t used anything from the minibar that you haven’t disclosed, the deposit held on your card will be removed.
Another thing to remember is to book your accommodation ahead. This particularly applies if you’ve got special interests or requirements and if there’s a hotel or some style of accommodation that you really want to stay in.
Though many people think of it as a winter destination, Switzerland is always very busy over the summer. Hotels and apartments book up especially quickly then.
For example, I’ve considered staying at the Hotel Villa Honegg a couple of times. It’s a beautiful hotel with an infinity pool overlooking Lake Lucerne. That’s a bucket list place for me, and I really want to stay there one day but I’ll have to book early.
Even before the global pandemic, though, the hotel was fully booked out a year in advance!
If there’s somewhere in particular that you really want to stay, do book as far ahead as you can.
Where to stay in Switzerland ~ Final Thoughts
We hope this guide has helped you make sense of where to stay in Switzerland.
From five star hotels to campsites with equipment provided, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation in Switzerland.
Whether you opt for the personal service at a B&B, a unique stay at a one-off property, an affordable hostel or a spacious, centrally located vacation rental, staying somewhere lovely can all be part of the pleasure of visiting this breathtaking country.