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oberman Apr 10th, 2007 07:43 PM

zurich hotel choice, please
help needed to decide what is the best choise hotel in zurich for me and my wife, for two nights in july:
best western engimatt- 610 chf for 2 nights inc. breakfeast
helmhaus- 575 chf
sofitel- 678 chf
we are looking for a central nice hotel, nice rooms with air condition,safe location.

laartista Apr 11th, 2007 07:21 AM


Cicerone Apr 12th, 2007 07:37 PM

Of the three, the Helmhaus certainly has the best location for touring Zurich, IMO, as it is right in the middle of the old town. The Sofitel would be the next best location, as it is just north of the start of the old town, and is quite near the main train station. The Engimatt is west of the lake and is not in the charming old town area. Zurich is quite small, so it would not be a far walk (mabye 10 minutes to a tram or 20-30 minutes to the old town), and the hotel certainly appears to be nice, so the location is not bad, it just is not "central" and is just not in the lovely cobble stone pedestrian-only area full of shops and restaurants which is the old town. The hotel would be in a residential area of rather nondescript 3-4 storey concrete apartment buildings. I am somewhat concerned that it might back up to or be accross the street from the elevation A-3 highway which runs through that part of town. It does appear to have a garden and some trees, which is nice. The Best Western Glockenhof or Zuercherhof would be better located, IMO, if you wanted a Best Western (these may not be air conditioned; generally you do not need air conditioning in Zurich in the summer unless there is a very unusual heat wave, it does however help with noise which is only a problem on weekend nights in my experience in living in Zurich).

The Helmhaus is probably not the nicest of those three hotels, however, as I think it is probably older and has not had a redo as recently. The Sofitel I think is the newest and is probably the best maintained. I also think the Sofitel may be a 4 star, the Helmhaus is a 3 star, not sure about the Best Western. The Helmhaus is perfectly fine, I just donít know if quality/luxury are more important to you than location. If not, then take the Helmhaus.

I used to live in Zurich and the Helmhaus was about 25 feet from my house, and I actually stayed there one night during a heat wave when I really, really needed air conditioning (they are one of the few hotels in the neighbourhood which have it). Itís location is excellent for the old town, it is along the river, close to the lake, near a tram stop and near some good restaurants and shops. Very close to the Grossmunster church and across the river from the Fraumunster.

The Helmhaus is a pretty basic 3 star, i.e. not any wooden panelling and Swiss charm. Furniture is what you might call Danish modern, old but fine. Bathrooms are small and basic but fine as well. Unless you like to smoke, be sure to ask for a non-smoking room (this is a problem in many European hotel rooms). 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. If you choose the Engimatt, take the train to the Zurich Enge station. I can give you walking directions to any of these hotels from the train stations.

oberman Apr 13th, 2007 02:40 AM

thank you cicerone.what about getting from the airport to sofitel?by the way , i think that quality/luxury are more important to me than location, and i understand that the sofitel is quite central?please give the walking directions to sofitel.and by the way the price at the sofitel is 530 chf for 2 night +32 chf for breakast/per person. what will be the price for breakfast at a local restaurant?

JN Apr 13th, 2007 02:47 AM

Have you considered Priceline? You can check to see the list of Zurich hotels they use and winning bids. If you can take the uncertainty of knowing the specific property, you can save a lot.

Cicerone Apr 17th, 2007 12:59 AM

The train is of course very easy to take from the airport, but you might want to check with the hotel to confirm whether they participate in the airport shuttle service, as that would be even easier, albeit a bit more expensive (shuttles are generaly not free, check with the hotel).

OK to walk to the Sofitel from the main train station. Your train from the airport may arrive on a basement level or it may arrive on the ground level. If you arrive on a track than 3-18 or 51 through 54 you will be in the basement, and will have to come upstairs to the main level which is on the ground floor. Also, if you have a lot of luggage and are only staying in Zurich for 2 nights, you might want to consider storing your luggage either at the train station at the airport, or at the main train station itself. Both have luggage lockers and a manned luggage room. In the airport, the lockers and manned room are on the same level as the ticket booths; in the train station, the lockers are on the first basement level, and the manned room is on the main ground level (look for a blue sign with a white suitcase).

(It is possible to take a tram from the train station to a stop quite near the hotel, but IMO by the time you figure out how where to get the tram, get tickets, where to get off, etc, it is easier to walk. If you have suitcases, climbing up the stairs onto the tram and negotiating the narrow aisles is not a whole lot of fun, esp if the trams are crowded. Once you are in town and figure out the system, you could take the tram back to the station for the return flight. You could also take a taxi to the hotel from the train station, this would take literally 3-4 minutes and cost about US$20.)

The walk should not take more than 10-15 minutes. Once you are on the ground floor of the train station and are in the huge main arrival/departure hall, then with the train tracks at your back, walk down through the main hall toward the doors at the opposite end of the hall from the tracks. (FYI, the Zurich tourist office will be on the left just before the doors leading out of the hall, you might want to stop off here to pick up a map of Zurich and other info. They also do a walking tour in English once a day at 3 pm and twice on Saturdays, go to

Once outside the doors of the station, turn left and walk about 10-20 feet, looking for a streetlight and cross walk on the right past the end of the tram stop area. Cross at the light, all the way across one street, the tram tracks, and the next street to the sidewalk on the far side. Turn left and walk about 10-15 feet to the next corner, where there is another light (Museumstrasse/Walchbruche). Cross here and turn right. Walk across the bridge over the river to the next intersection (Neumuhlequai). Cross the street, continue walking straight and you will intersect with Wachestrasse. This street will start to curve to the left. Walk up this street for about 20 yards, until you come to a tram stop and an intersection; you will need to cross Wachestrasse here and continue all the way across the plaza/tram stop to the street on the other side of the tram stop/plaza, which is Stampfenbachstrasse, the street on which your hotel is located. Your hotel is to the left up this street, but across the street and up about 20-30 yards or so, you will have to cross the street at some point.

As for breakfast, CH32 is a bit steep, but that may be for a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes etc. If you want that big a breakfast, you may not find it much cheaper elsewhere in Zurich, although you might try a chain like Movenpick (go to However, if you just want a muffin, croissant, coffee, etc, you should be able to find many options, in about the $8-10 range. The start of the Neiderdorf/old town area is a few hundred yards from your hotel, and there is a Starbucks at the top of the Neiderdorf (and basically at the end of the Oberdof at the other end of the old town on that side of the river) if you want/need a hit of caramel-flavoured coffee and a muffin (there is also a McDonalds about halfway down the Neiderdorf as well as one across the street from the train station; and they do have the standard breakfast menu, not quite as cheap as in the US, but it is an option). There as also little bakeries in the old town neighbourhoods. There is also a very good and inexpensive creperie at Cafe Walthi, they have other breakfast items too (closed on Sundays). This would be a nice stroll down through the old town in the morning. Another place to try on the other side of the river would be Cafe Wuhre on the river on the left bank of the old town, this would be about 40 feet from the Fraumunster, so quite convenient for then going over the see the windows in the morning (rather than walking, for either cafe you could take the tram to Helmhaus, see the directions below). Itís a little more expensive than the Walthi (lots of university students at the Walthi, so take your cue from that.)

Café Walthi
Schoffegasse 3
Tel: 262-0906

Café Wühre
Wühre 11
Tel: 211 26 53

A wonderful hole in the wall (literally) and one of the oldest bakeries in Zurich is the Bäckerei Vohdin, which is in the Oberdof, quite close to the Grossmunster church. This opened in about 1620 (the building was built in the 14th century), and it always amused me that they started operation about the same time as the pilgrims landed in Massachusetts aboard the Mayflower (and this really impressed by niece and nephew). They have a good selection of croissants and pretzels. Strictly take-away (the shop is literally a hole in the side of a building). This would be a good walk in the morning, you could take the #11 tram one stop to Central, and switch to the #4 or #11 tram down Limmatquai 3 stops to the Helmhaus stop which is very close to the Oberdorf. The downside is that they are only open like 4 mornings a week, Tuesday through Friday, so these may not coincide with your days.

Bäckerei Vohdin
Oberdorfstrasse 12
Tel. 252 49 19

Other options are the wonderful Cafe Schober/Cafe Felix at Napfgasse 4 in the Neiderdorf area, which serves probably the worldís best hot chocolate, but this would be fairly expensive too, you might want to walk by it the day before and check out the price list. Or breakfast at the Sprungli chocolate shop cafe at the 21 Banhofstrasse, they do a full breakfast for maybe a bit less than the hotel, and is a good start to being down in the area, i.e. to see the Chagall windows at the Fraumunster in the morning when the morning sun hits them (opens at 10 am or so to visitors) or to get a ferry for a trip down the lake. Also if you are in Zurich on a Tuesday or a Friday, there is a wonderful farmerís market at Burkliplatz, and you can buy croissants and bread and there is a little place that sells coffee and hot chocolate there as well. The market goes from about 7 -11 am. On Saturdays from April through September there is a fun flea market there, and the little coffee place is open as well.

I donít know precisely what is in the neighbourhood of the Sofitel, but I imagine you could find something (you are looking for a bäckerei or konditorei) if you did not want to walk to the Neiderdorf area, you could also go to the train station where there are places inside the station.

Cicerone Apr 17th, 2007 01:07 AM

Sorry, my post should have read:

If you arrive into the train station on a track OTHER than 3 through 18 or 51 through 54 you will be in the basement and will have to come upstairs.

To get to Cafe Walthi, Cafe Wühre or the lower end of the old town or the lake, take the #11 tram from the stop near your hotel one stop to Central, change to the #4 or the #15, and then take that 3 stops to Helmhaus (or 4 stops to Bellevue, which is at the lake).

And by ďstreelightĒ I mean traffic light.

Cicerone Apr 17th, 2007 01:27 AM

Finally, I think I would be remiss if I did not suggest that you have a traditional Zuricher breakfast of a bratwurst and beer at the outdoor Sternen Grill, located at Bellevue Tram stop (see directions above). Should not run you more than CH10 for both. Does not open until about 10 am, which may be earlier than you feel you can stomach bratwurst (or the beer), but you will see many a hausfrau sitting there at 10 am enjoying both:

Sternen Grill Bratwurst Stand
Next door to Vorderer Sternen Restaurant (Theatrestrasse 22)
Bellevue Tram stop

oberman Apr 17th, 2007 07:04 AM

thank you again cicerone.I am also considering the Marriot hotel- 570 chf without breakfast for 2 nights- 40 chf more expensive than the Sofitel.
any comments about the Marriot?
thank you again, Oberman

Budman Apr 17th, 2007 07:15 AM

Have you thought about using priceline and bidding for a 4*? I got the Intercontinental one time which was a short trolley ride to the center of the city, and this time (May) I got the Marriott -- both for $80 per night. ((b))

Mimar Apr 17th, 2007 08:03 AM

Oberman desires luxury and wounldn't like getting stuck in a small basic room, as he might be with a Priceline bid.

Budman Apr 17th, 2007 08:15 AM

Mimar, he mentioned the Marriott, so I thought I would give him my 2 cents.

I've never gotten a basic room when I bid on priceline. I have gotten the same quality of room that someone else paid $300 for, depending upon the hotel. For the difference, he can buy breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Just giving him some choices. ((b))

Cicerone Apr 17th, 2007 05:51 PM

The Marriott is not too far from the Sofitel, it is along the river north of the train station, it is maybe a block closer to the train station and a bit of a more direct walk. It is not in the charming old town section either. It is probably a bit more luxurious than the Sofitel, which I tend to think of as a more budget-type hotel chain, but as I have not seen the rooms at the Sofitel I canít compare I have stayed at this hotel, the rooms are nice, pretty standard Marriott, they have a pool which might be nice. I think the rooms can tend to be small and they donít have full-size bathtubs (at least the few I have stayed in), but that can be a problem in Europe generally anyway. If you have a choice, try to get a room on a high floor with a lake view and you could have a very nice Alp view on a clear day. They have a good Thai restaurant.

If you are looking in the CH250-285 per night range and want some luxury, you might want to look at the Zum Storchen which IS in the charming old town area right on the river. This has one of the best restaurants in town, and great views of the river and old town. Rooms are air-conditioned. Take a look at You might also consider the Kindli, also in the old town area, this is a very charming hotel with very nice rooms, and breakfast is also included in that rate. Take a look at I believe many of the rooms can be on the small side here too, so take the largest room you can in your price range. I donít believe they have air conditioning, but really unless there is a heat wave IMO you donít need it.

oberman Apr 19th, 2007 01:28 AM

the Zum Storchen looks very nice but on line price is 540 chf per night!!!

Cicerone Apr 19th, 2007 01:53 AM

MMhmm, did not think all their rooms were that much. but perhaps they are sold out and if you are talking about a weeknight and only the larger river front rooms, that could be the case I guess. Did you try the Kindli?

oberman Apr 19th, 2007 06:33 AM

yes, 420 chf per night, and without a.c.. i think that i will probably take the MARRIOT or the SOFITEL and have breakfast in one of your suggested options.
how long will take the walk from those hotels to the old city?
thanks again

Cicerone Apr 19th, 2007 11:49 PM

The old town is along both sides of the river running from about the Central tram stop to the lake. The Sofitel or Marriott would be 10-15 minutes walk from the start of the right bank section of the old town, maybe 20 minutes to the left bank old town. Quite close really. Zurich is a small town. Either would be 10-15 minutes to the top of the Bahnhofstrasee (the main shopping street) and about 20-25 minute walk to the lake (tram is easy as well).

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