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Language: French | Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF) | Local time: UTC +1:00 | Avg. Flight time: 1 hr 50m
The swanky northern side of Lake Geneva is known as the Right Bank. It is characterised by luxurious, palace-like residences along Quai Wilson and Quai du Mont-Blanc. Their names stencilled in large letters on each respective rooftop, most combine marbled lobbies and destination restaurants with spas and money-can-buy views over the Jet d’Eau towards Mont Blanc. Suites occupy higher floors, and battalions of well-dressed staff stand ready.
Among the most famous and iconic of these Geneva hotels is Le Richemond, which has operated since 1875 and is now run by The Dorchester Collection. Everyone from Sophia Loren to Louis Armstrong has admired its gold-filigree finery over the years, although only recent visitors have been able to sample the basement’s Sisley Spa.
Alternatively, the suburbs allow for extra space. Witness the Intercontinental Geneva, near the airport and 10 minutes from the UN headquarters. Three miles outside of the city is the refurbished La Reserve, the grandest address of them all. Its gated estate is home to a health spa, pool and tennis courts, and complimentary boat shuttles into town are laid on during summer.
Another nerve centre for upmarket hotels in Geneva is Eaux-Vives, a leafy and largely residential district behind the Jardin Anglais. Residences here tend to have a boutique vibe, although big-hitters such as the Metropole are also present.
More affordable options exist near Plainpalais and Carouge, south of the Old Town, or sporadically in the extremely central Hollande neighbourhood beside the Rhône River.
Inside the city limits, Geneva’s cheapest hotels are invariably located around Gare Cornavin off Rue de Lausanne or inside the marginally scruffier Paquis quarter – a former red-light district gone (mostly) legit. An electronic board inside the train station shows nearby vacancies.
Further out, hotels close to the airport are typically cheaper than their central equivalents. These are actually a great bet: free, efficient transport puts guests close to the action, and there is plenty of space and tranquillity.
The cheapest Geneva accommodation prices, however, aren’t found in Geneva at all. The outlying French towns of Annemasse and Gaillard can be easily accessed by tram from Gare Cornavin, and places such as Hôtel Porte de Genève offer rates in the £50-per-night region.
There’s no one time of the year when Geneva is cheap to visit, but there are peak times: namely Christmas and New Year, so look outside of these peak times for the best hotel deals.
Geneva’s large international conferences, trade shows such as the Salon d'Auto in March, and summer festivals see room rates – especially on the luxurious Right Bank – increase greatly, and rooms can be hard to come by. Check ahead as to whether your dates clash with any of these (and book as far in advance as possible if they do!).