Bern Hotels

Bern has plenty of top-quality hotels, many of them with magnificent 19th-century characteristics: towering ceilings ornately accented with stucco moldings; balconies with curlicue Belle Époque iron railings; domed corner turrets; and miles of marble floors. A step or two below, price-wise, are some older venues that tend toward the generic. But today's owners and managers are waking up to the

fact that flowered prints and dusty blue carpeting are just a little too 1980s, even if they're spotlessly clean. These new entrepreneurs are ripping up old flooring to expose and polish up the often centuries-old parquet underneath; they're whitewashing the walls; installing state-of-the-art entertainment systems; upgrading the bathrooms (or just plain adding them); and fixing up the rooms with simple, modular furniture that keeps the prices at a level the average traveler can afford.

One truism here is that most, if not all, of Bern's hotel staffers are professional, cheerful, and accommodating. And most of them speak at least three languages comfortably, one of which is sure to be English. If you can, book in advance as music festivals, trade conventions, sports events, and parliamentary sessions (March, June, September, and December) can fill rooms fast. Rates drop on weekends, when there is less demand.

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