Geneva has an extraordinarily high concentration of luxury accomodation options, most of them strung along the shores of Lake Geneva and all of them, such as Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, offering superlative views and outstanding service and facilities. Finding somewhere to stay without blowing your budget is a trickier proposition, but not impossible. Head away from the lake and there are interesting finds in the Quartier des Bains and Plainpalais, whose numerous bars and restaurants make for a great place to base yourself in. Even Pâquis, whose historically insalubrious reputation can be a pleasing antidote to the city’s refined side, has a growing number of mid-range design-led hotels. Wherever you stay, Geneva’s manageable size and well-integrated public transport system mean you’re never far away from where you want to go.
Occuping a tranquil spot within a busy city, this Swissôtel-run hotel is nestled within the Eaux-Vives park overlooking Lake Geneva. With just seven guest rooms (including two suites) tucked into the eaves of this 18th century building, it’s an exclusive kind of place aimed at high-end guests looking for a hideaway stay. Rooms are ultra-modern and well-equipped, while retaining the character that’s innate to a building of such long history – slanted attic ceilings, round skylight windows, wooden floors. Given the limited accommodation, much of the hotel’s business comes from day visitors to its two restaurants – the casual brasserie, offering a summery Mediterranean menu, and the more formal A L’Etage (closed in winter) which, as you’d expect from the name, affords lovely views of the lake from its first floor Art Deco room and terrace. Particularly popular is the brasserie’s copious brunch on Sunday afternoon.
Within spitting distance of the jet d’eau and the Jardin Anglais, the five star Swissôtel Métropole doesn’t shirk on views. The mid-19th century building is now one of the city’s most luxurious hotels (though there are many to choose from here) and offers ultra-modern accommodation with contemporary, idiosyncratic decor in all 111 rooms and 16 suites. Though it’s just a short walk to the Old Town with its many bars and restaurants, if you don’t feel like leaving the hotel there’s plenty to occupy you right here. Energetic types can work out in the fitness suite before putting the calories back on in Le Grand Quai restaurant, which serves classy Mediterranean cuisine in posh surroundings. As for drinking, the red-themed Mirror Bar offers wine and cocktails into the small hours, while the rooftop 5 bar is best in summer for a drink with a view.
You wouldn’t expect to find a slice of Africa on the shores of Lake Geneva, but five-star hotel La Réserve tries its best to evoke the sense of luxury you might experience in a big game reserve lodge. Rooms are decorated in muted, earthy tones, with wood floors and rugs patterned in a contemporary faux-animal print. Most encourage you to be at one with nature by featuring patio doors leading on to a balcony or terrace, some opening directly onto the landscaped gardens and swimming pool area. There the tenuous similarity ends, but the hotel has plenty has plenty going for it with or without its African vibe. Particular reasons to visit include the huge spa with its indoor and outdoor pool overlooking Lake Geneva, and the its five restaurants and bars. In summer live music and DJs create a lively atmosphere on the terraces, while in the colder months head to the winter lodge to skate on its private ice rink. The hotel isn’t in the centre of Geneva, but instead of city life you get a leafy setting, uninterrupted lake views and a quicker exit to the towns and villages dotted around the lake.
This place is something of an antidote to the big name luxury gaffs lining the lake. It’s still luxurious, it still has everything you want from a city break hotel, but it’s just that little bit more interesting. Located in a 19th century building near Plainpalais, its funky design draws on its Art Nouveau history whilst also being thoroughly modern, with a colour palate that leans heavily on lime green and purple. Nice little touches like Art Nouveau glass lampshades and line-drawing pictures on the walls give character. The restaurant, meanwhile, is decorated like an English gentleman’s club, with wood-panelled walls and pinstripe bench seating. Serving up contemporary brasserie dishes using seasonal ingredients, it’s a good choice for dinner, even if there are numerous other restaurants in the vicinity. Guests can also use the fitness area and spa, including hamman and sauna.
The ultra-modern, minimalist decor of this hotel sits within two conjoined 19th century buildings around an interior courtyard. Rooms are light and airy, with clean, white lines and a restful feeling that’s hard to leave behind. The loft suite in particular is a gorgeous hideaway under the eaves, and with its own kitchen and lounge, you could easily tuck yourself away never to be seen again. It’s worth emerging, though, to try out the fitness centre and spa, or to explore to buzz of the surrounding area. Located in Geneva’s so-called Latin quarter, it’s a short stroll to the many bars and restaurants of Plainpalais and the university district, while the beautiful Sardinian-style area of Carouge is just down the road. The hotel doesn’t have an in-house restaurant, but you can order food from two restaurants over the road and eat in your room.
Claiming to be Geneva’s very first hotel, the Four Seasons has been welcoming upmarket guests to its elegant surroundings since 1834. These days it’s one of a string of luxury hotels sitting regally on the banks of Lake Geneva, but it’s still among the best. The 115 guest rooms are sumptuously decorated with plush fabrics, classic wallpaper, thick draping curtains and chandelier-style light fittings. Many have balconies overlooking the lake. If you can bear to step away from your room, you’ll find more luxury in the spa, including an infinity pool with a superb view, a rooftop terrace and spacious treatment rooms. As for food, munch on seasonal Italian dishes at Il Lago or choose Izumi for high-class Japanese cuisine from the team behind Nobu. The latter has a rooftop terrace perfect for watching the sun go down over the lake.
There are numerous luxury hotels strung along Geneva’s mega posh Rive Droite, each proffering five star service, idiosyncratically decorated rooms and superlative views of Lake Geneva. However a stay at the Hotel d’Angleterre is certainly an individual experience, if you can afford to have it. Built in 1872, its listed facade hides a hotel that, through recent renovation, now combines traditional luxury with contemporary flair. The decor is almost exhausting in its detail. Each room is designed differently and yours could feature original artworks, marbled floors, elaborate chandeliers and heavily patterned wallpaper – be sure to request a room style you favour when booking. As you’d expect, food is top notch in quality and eye-watering in price (starters from CHF30), regally served in the lakefront Windows restaurant. Guests and interlopers alike may prefer the parlour-style Leopard Bar (the decor is true to the name) for cocktails, posh nibbles and live music.