Switzerland Feature

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Lodging Primer

From luxurious palace-hotels that are home to well-off internationals to comfortable bed-and-breakfasts with eager hosts ready to meet your every need, Switzerland has a range of accommodation options. However, prices across the board can be lofty: you will pay more for minimal comforts here than in any other European country. And compared to the two double beds and bath-shower combos found in American motels, spaces can be small, bathtubs cost extra, and single rooms may only be big enough for a single bed. What you're paying for is service, reliability, and cleanliness.

Hotels

No matter how many stars they have, there are essentially two types of hotels in Switzerland: the old-style chintz-and-velvet venues, and the airy, parquet-flooring-and-modular-furniture boutique hotels of more recent years.

Hotel rooms generally have a television, telephone, and private bath, but if you're set on having a bathtub rather than a shower be sure to ask. One Swiss peculiarity is that the standard double room has two prim beds built together, with separate linens and, sometimes, sheets tucked firmly down the middle. If you prefer more sociable arrangements, ask for a "French bed," or lit matrimonial—that will get you a double mattress. Some hotels may offer extra beds—for example, to expand a double room to a triple.

Bring your own toiletries, as only the nicer hotels offer anything more than a tiny square of white soap. Same goes for an alarm clock—the watch-wearing, cell phone-carrying Swiss don't need them, but you might.

Bed-and-Breakfasts

Whether you're staying in a lavish chambre d'hôtes on the shores of Lac Léman or a rural mountain lodge high in the Alps, bed-and-breakfasts give you a taste of authentic Swiss hospitality without the hotel vibe. Rates can vary, but most often are calculated per person rather than per room. Many of the country's best rooms are found just above celebrated gastronomic restaurants; when you've finished your savory seven-course meal and bottle of local wine you can climb up the stairs to find a down-filled pillow topped with two tasty chocolates waiting for you.

Farmstays

Also known as agrotourism, staying on a working farm or vineyard can be a delightful way to soak up rural culture. Families may appreciate child-friendly activities like feeding and milking cows, while upscale singles might enjoy participating in the autumn grape harvest and winemaking duties. Options range from simply furnished but comfortable farmhouses to modern, ecologically minded agricultural co-ops.

Updated: 09-2013

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