Sleeping in Switzerland
August 20, 2012 7:42 AM   Subscribe

I am taking a last-minute, whirlwind tour of Switzerland from August 29-Sept 7th, and need budget lodging recommendations.

Afforable lodging would be in the ~$100 per night range. I might be able to go up to $150, but that would start killing the food budget ($70-100 seems definitely doable for private rooms in hostels, but I'm overwhelmed by options)

I'm looking for hostel/hotel lodging recommendations for the following cities: Zurich, Geneva, Zermatt, St. Moritz and St. Gallens.

Given that we just dropped on a grand each on railpasses and flights, I realize that we're going to have to scramble to find cheap lodging- probably resorting to private rooms in hostels, doing a lot of hiking for our entertainment and eating a ton of cheese.

Right now, our only real desires are to do the glacier express from Zermatt to St. Moritz, and to do some hiking around Zermatt at the base of the Matterhorn. I've been to Geneva before, and while the lake is gorgeous, I've always found it a rather practical city. As we'll have rail passes, pretty much all of Switzerland is open to us- so random towns are definitely doable.

Dining/food recommendations would also be awesome. We're omnivores who love to cook, so the back up plan is to subsist on cheese, bread and wine.
posted by larthegreat to Travel & Transportation around Switzerland (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've just got back from a whirlwind tour of Switzerland myself, on a similar budget to you!

I've always had the most luck with the big hotel chains (which often don't appear on the hotel aggegrators), particularly ibis. However, having a quick look now shows them a little out of your price range at this short notice (although, cheaper if you stay a few km from the centre - hotels in most Swiss cities will give you a free pass for the public transport for the duration of your stay, so this isn't such an issue).

In Zermatt, we stayed in a self-catering apartment, found through the truly excellent Zermatt tourist office. They were really helpful in person at the office, and it's probably worth giving them a ring. We stayed in Haus Elan, but there are many similar options. In Zermatt, the scenery was mindblowing, but you needed to get up on the cablecars or mountain railways to see the best of it. Unfortunately, the tickets are not cheap (up to 100 CHF return for the highest lift, if I remember) - I would strongly recommend budgeting some money for this.

I found Lausanne to be much more fun than Geneva - more culture, more relaxed, with a nice lakefront district (Ouchy).

The price of food and (alcoholic) drink was also mindblowing, coming from a brit. The most expensive I've experienced in the whole of Europe (but then I haven't been to Scandinavia). Even supermarkets are twice the price of those just over the borders for some things. Self-catering in Zermatt saved us from bankrupcy. Cheapest decent food and beer we found in Zermatt was Sparky's bar (attached to a youth hostel, and not particularly Swiss - full disclosure - it's owned by a British friend of a friend!). Even there is 20 CHF for a veggie chilli, which gives you some idea of the prices everywhere else!

Memail me if you want more info about Geneva, Lausanne or Zermatt.
posted by firesine at 8:53 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Be prepared, Switzerland is insanely expensive. "Cheap" fast food is regularly 15-20CHF (a döner kebap for under 10CHF is hard to come by). Migros and Coop are the main supermarkets - make sure to go to the big ones, not to the little 7-11 type corner shops that Coop has. Denner is the really budget market. If you see one, that is your chance to stock up on affordable food, beer, and wine (they usually have a good wine selection actually).

Have fun!
posted by molecicco at 10:06 AM on August 20, 2012

Response by poster: I live in NYC, did a trip to Norway recently (which completely re-framed my barometer for "expensive"), and have been to Switzerland before, so I know it's pricey, but thanks for the reminder. We do plan on self-catering as much as possible, with the occasional dinner out. (I know about Coop, but finding a Denner is a great hint).
posted by larthegreat at 10:27 AM on August 20, 2012

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