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Where to Stay in 
Switzerland and Austria

Switzerland Austria hotels

ABOVE: In most Swiss and Austrian villages, you can easily find low-cost accommodations in private homes.

Sleep occupies only seven to eight hours of the average traveler's day. Add a few hours for dressing, eating, brushing teeth, and--ahem--other personal activities, and you're still talking about a maximum of 11 or 12 hours a day in your hotel. So why do hotel expenses represent the lion's share of a vacation budget? (Or, to put it another way, why does a suite in a four-star Swiss hotel cost more per night than the monthly mortgage on a four-bedroom house back home?)

No matter. Unless you're willing to risk arrest by sleeping on a park bench, you're going to need a place to stay during your trip to Switzerland or Austria. Let's explore your options:

Hotels, pensions, and inns

Switzerland undoubtedly has more hotels per capita than any other nation. Hotels are everywhere: in big cities, in tiny villages, and perched on mountains that would be inaccessible to ordinary tourists if the Swiss weren't so fond of cablecars. Best of all, few (if any) Swiss hotels are fleabags. Whether you stay at Badrutt's Palace in St. Moritz or a chalet-style pension in Evolène, you're likely to get--at the very least--a tolerable bed, an absence of rodent roommates, and a decent breakfast the next morning.

The situation in Austria is comparable, although you'll find more small family-run guesthouses and fewer grand hotels. (Most of your fellow guests will be German, at least in the countryside.)

When searching for a hotel or pension, follow these guidelines:

***** Deluxe. For corporate CEOs on expense accounts and wealthy travelers who want to spend the family fortune before the kids can inherit it.
**** First class, catering to the business traveler and moderately well-heeled tourist.
*** Comfortable middle-class, mostly with private baths.
** Budget category, mostly with a sink in each room. Two-star pensions in the country are often cozy and comfortable; city budget hotels tend to be adequate but austere.
* Bare-bones, for shoestring adventurers who prefer cheap hotels to youth hostels.


Bed-and-breakfasts are a relatively new phenomenon in Switzerland and Austria. For listings, see Bed and Breakfast Switzerland

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