Which Zurich hotel?

Old Apr 4th, 2008, 12:17 PM
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Which Zurich hotel?

We are going to Zurich in July and as part of a package we have narrowed down our choices to the Sofitel, Helmhaus or Wellenberg. The price is about the same for all 3 and we are looking for something clean, comfortable and close to old town and shopping. Which would you recommend?
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Old Apr 4th, 2008, 01:16 PM
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I stayed in the Sofitel in January of this year and very much enjoyed it. My room was spacious, attractive, comfortable, and quiet. The staff were helpful and friendly. I ate dinner in the hotel restaurant (on the second floor, or first floor European) and it was quite good; the breakfast buffet was also very good (as to be expected with that level of hotel in Switzerland).

There is a tram stop very close to the hotel. Although the Sofitel is not in the Bahnhofstrasse shopping district or the heart of old town, it was easy and quick for me to get there.

No experience with the other two hotels, but I was very satisfied with my stay at the Sofitel and wouldn't hesitate to stay there again.
(Note, if you opt for the Sofitel and haven't already signed up, register for the free Sofitel Privilege card at their web site: www.sofitel.com. In addition to points, you are entitled to a welcome drink in the hotel bar and may be give a free upgrade if available.)
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Old Apr 4th, 2008, 04:51 PM
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Is it walking distance to old town? The photos of the exterior don't look very nice. What can you tell me about the area/neighborhood? I will definitely sign up for the Privilege Card if we decide to stay there. Thanks.
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Old Apr 4th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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Yes, I thought it was...I took the tram there and then walked back.

Yes, the exterior isn't exactly inspiring. The rooms have a much more "fresh traditional" decor...my room had a painted airmoire, some carved wood decorative pieces, etc.

I wasn't as impressed with Zurich's old town as I had hoped to be...it was nice, but I liked the old town in Basel better, just a personal preference, nothing more. But while exploring one of the old Zurich areas, I came across the most fantastic aquarium shop...they had the BEST collection of freshwater tropical fish I'd seen in ages. The collection of discus fish was stunning. We used to have a 55-gallon aquarium and would have loved to have shopped at this place...so the Bogner store (where I also looked but didn't buy) and this aquarium shop were my Zurich consumer highlights (I got my chocolates at Schiesser in Basel).
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Old Apr 17th, 2008, 11:32 AM
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Of the three, the Helmhaus certainly has the best location for its location smack dab in the middle of the old town, about 500 yards from the Grossmunster, about 20 yards from the river and the Wasserkirche chapel. Many good restaurants in the neighbourhood. The Wellenberg would be next, just because I donít find the Niderdorfstrasse area quite as charming as the Oberdorf area around the Helmhuas, but really the difference in minor, also many good restaurants in this area. It is also further from the lake, but then again is a little close to the Hautbahnoff end of town. I would say that it may be a tad noisy, as it is on a major square in the old town, and some popular bars/restaurants are nearby which are open air. (The old town areas the hotel is in is car-free, but does get packed with pedestrians on summer nights.) If you are not there on a Thur-Sat night, this should not be an issue, but if the hotel does not have air con and you are there on a Saturday night, it could be noisy. If they have courtyard rooms, you might consider those for noise control. The Sofitel (which is now in fact called the Hotel Continental, still part of the Accor chain, but just not a Sofitel , see http://www.accorhotels.com) would be the third best location, IMO, as it is just north of the start of the old town, but it is quite near the main train station. The Helmhaus is probably the most basic of those three hotels. The Sofitel I think is the newest and is probably the best maintained. The Helmhaus is perfectly fine, I just donít know if luxury are more important to you than location. If not, then take the Helmhaus or the Wellendberg.

I have only stayed in the Helmhaus (I lived in a flat around the corner and needed air conditioning one very hot Swiss summer night, you may appreciate it as well, check that all the hotels on your list have it.) The Helmhaus is modern, i.e. not any wooden panelling and dotted-curtain Swiss charm. Furniture is what you might call Danish modern. Bathrooms are small and basic but fine as well. They have had a redo which I have not seen, so the rooms could be much nicer than they were when I stayed there, but at their prices it is going to be simpler.. Unless you like to smoke, be sure to ask for a non-smoking room (this is a problem in many European hotel rooms). Note that this hotel is about 3 blocks from the Stadelhofen train station so it is very convenient for getting to the airport. Be sure to take the train to or from the Zurich Stadelhofen train station, not Zurich Hautbahnhof (the main station), as the Stadelhofen train station is much closer. There are 4 train stations in Zurich, but most tourists are only aware of the main one, which is quite inconvenient for some hotels, like the Helmhaus; itís probably closer for the Wellendberg as well. I can give you walking directions to any of these hotels from the train stations.


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Old Apr 17th, 2008, 02:39 PM
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Interesting about the Sofitel's name change. It was still a Sofitel in January of this year. From the photo gallery, it appears the decor of the rooms and public areas hasn't changed and the Bel Etage restaurant appears to be the same.
But, with its new name, it now falls into a special branch of Accor's Mercure brand, the MGallery collection:
http://www.mercure.com/gb/discoverin...ry-hotel.shtml

At the moment, there are only three MGallery hotels--in Zurich, Geneva and the Hotel Baltimore in Paris (also a former Sofitel).
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