Where to Stay in Geneva: Best Areas and Hotels
If you’re wondering where to stay in Geneva, or where is the best area to stay in Geneva, you’re in the right place. In this article, I will give an insight into the best places to stay in Geneva for first time visitors, couples, families, backpackers, all budget travelers; read on as I show you the best of Geneva.
Geneva is located at the western tip of Switzerland, where it pokes out into France. Curling around the west point of Léc Leman, and with the sprawling Haute Chaîne du Jura National Reserve to the north, Geneva is as well known for its natural beauty as it is for its political legacy.
Whether you want to bask in the atmosphere of historical architecture, browse the numerous museums, or while away your afternoons exploring the many parks and gardens, Geneva can provide a uniquely relaxing city break.
Ideal for families and solo travellers alike, there is plenty to keep you entertained, whether you are just passing through or staying for a longer vacation.
Where to Stay in Geneva: Tips & Info
Geneva is a city of many appeals and draws a wide range of visitors. The best area for you to stay will depend on what your personal needs and preferences are, and what you want to get from your time in Geneva. I have a few quick suggestions based on some common preferences visitors to the city may have.
If it is your first time in Geneva, or you are only staying for a short while, and want to get a good feel for the city and see most of its major attractions, the central district of Cité is ideal. Alternatively, if you would like to stay close to the action but outside of the crowded main hub, the neighbouring district of Eaux Vives, with its sprawling park and lake views, is perfect.
If you want to stay near the airport or are in town for an event at the Palexpo Exhibition Centre or Geneva Arena, you will want to consider Grand Saconnex. Likewise, if you intend to use the city as a stepping off point for the surrounding ski districts, this region on the outskirts of the city is well connected.
If you are travelling to or from the city by train, Pâquis Nations is a beautiful neighbourhood surrounding Geneva Station. With both stunning views over the lake and several large parks to the north, as well as swift connections into the city centre at the south, Pâquis Nations is both convenient and charming.
Where to Stay in Geneva – 8 Best Areas to Stay in Geneva
I have selected eight areas in Geneva that I feel have the most appeal to travelers. I have provided summaries of what each area has to offer visitors, so that you may better familiarise yourself with the city and where you would most benefit from staying.
Where to Stay in Geneva Map
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1. Cité – Where to Stay in Geneva for First Time Travelers
Cité is the centre of Geneva and, as the place where the city first began, home to the Old Town. If you are planning your first trip to Geneva, you should definitely consider Cité as the place to stay. The area is packed full of things to see and do, with plenty to appeal to everyone and ideal for getting a taste of everything the city has to offer.
As the primary hub of the city, there is a wide array of entertainment and hospitality venues here. If you are travelling with a large group, or a family with children, you will benefit from the assortment of dining options available to suit every taste. Whilst the epicentre of the city’s nightlife scene lies further west in Jonction, there is plenty in the way of casual bars and music and live arts venues, including the Grand Théâtre de Genève, to keep you entertained into the evening.
History and culture lovers will be spoilt for choice by the number of museums and historical sites in the area. The grand St Pierre Cathedral stands in the centre of the district, directly next door to the International Museum of the Reformation. Just a few steps west will take you to the L’ancien arsenal Museum, with its displays of military equipment and mosaics, as well as the Tavel House museum of local history.
If you want to enjoy a spot of shopping during your trip, the area near to the waterfront is full of well-known brands, department stores, and a selection of independent boutiques. Alternatively, head to the Place du Bourg-de-Four, Geneva’s oldest public square. The area is well known for its high-end shopping and has plenty of chic cafes overlooking the beautiful plaza, for when you need a break.
There is a wide range of accommodation on offer here, from hotels and guest houses, to self-catered apartments. You can find something to suit any budget in Cité. However, if you have a more generous allowance for accommodation, there are some stunning views of the historical sites or the waterfront from some of the higher end hotels.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN CITÉ IF:
- This is your first-time visiting Geneva
- You are staying for a shorter time
- You love history and historical architecture
- You are travelling with a large group with varying food preferences
2. Jonction – Best Area to Stay in Geneva for Families
Jonction is a sprawling district directly to the west of Cité. The neighbourhood straddles the Arve river, at the junction where it leads into the Rhone. The river separates the neighbourhood into two sections, the urban east side, known for its arts and nightlife scene, and the leafier west, with its prominent green spaces.
Bordering the University of Geneva to the east, the region of Jonction is known for boasting the best of the city’s nightlife. From a wide variety of bars, cafes, and restaurants, to a selection of late-night clubs, you’re sure to find something to keep you entertained, no matter how late you like to stay out.
Additionally, the district is a hotbed of art and theatre. The Geneva Centre of Contemporary Art is located at the heart of the neighbourhood, surrounded by smaller art galleries and exhibition spaces. A number of small theatres, auditoriums, and dance halls are peppered across the area, whilst the Grand Theatre of Geneva is just a short distance to the east.
If you enjoy open air shopping, head to the Plainpalaise, which hosts several markets throughout the week, including the largest flea market and farmers market in Geneva. There are also often fairground rides and street food stalls across the plaza, making this a great place for families to spend the day. Fans of Frankenstein will know that part of the novel was set in Geneva and will appreciate the statue of Frankenstein’s monster that stands as a tribute at the northern end of the plaza.
If you are travelling with children, Bâtie Woods on the west bank of the river Arve is a delightful space to keep the whole family entertained for an afternoon. The forest itself is a wonderful place to take a walk and let the kids run off some energy, particularly in summer when the trees provide cool shade from the hot sun. In the west of the park is a small zoo, which also boasts a café and toilets, so visitors can explore the park without having to worry about finding amenities.
South along the Arve you can find more family entertainment venues, including a swimming pool, ice rink, and an escape room venue.
Further west is the Saint-Georges Cemetery. Whilst this may seem like a morbid spot to mention, the beautifully manicured grounds, complete with decorative ponds, and sweeping pathways lined with trees, are a tranquil escape from the bustle of the city.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN JONCTION IF:
- You want to stay near the city’s nightlife hub
- You love art and theatre
- You want to stay close to the city centre
- You are travelling with family
3. Saint Jean – Charmilles, Staying Near Geneva Centre
Saint Jean – Charmilles is the neighbourhood across the Rhone from Jonction. Primarily a residential area, the neighbourhood is a convenient location for anyone who wants to stay within a short distance of the main city centre whilst avoiding the higher prices for accommodation found in the more tourist heavy areas.
A number of bridges connect the area directly to the main districts of Cité and Jonction, meaning the major attractions of the city are just a short journey away.
The hospitality available here is less adventurous than you may find in the trendier neighbourhoods, but there is still a wide variety on offer to cater to the local residents. Likewise, the shops and cafes in the area have more of a local town vibe. Whilst it may lack the vibrant variety of the city centre, the area is ideal for anyone looking to get a feel for local, everyday life in Geneva.
Being less densely urban than the city centre, the streets here are particularly leafy, lending the neighbourhood a relaxed, suburban charm, that can provide a calm relief from the bustle of the crowded tourist hubs. There are several parks in the area, with play facilities for young children, making this neighbourhood ideal for anyone travelling with family, who would benefit from safe spaces to let children run off some energy.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN SAINT JEAN – CHARMILLES IF:
- You want to stay near to the city centre but avoid the higher cost of accommodation
- You want a neighbourhood with a more local vibe
- You are travelling with family and young children
4. Champel – Where to Stay in Geneva with Children
Directly south of the city centre is the affluent neighbourhood of Champel. A leafy suburb that borders the main district of Cité, Champel is ideal for anyone that wants to stay close to the city centre, whilst remaining away from the crowds and other travellers.
Dining in the neighbourhood is more limited than the variety on offer in the city centre, but establishments here are generally higher end, catering to the wealthy local residents. Likewise, accommodation here mostly conforms to the upscale reputation of the district. Despite being outside of the city centre, this is not the best place to search for bargain accommodation.
Most of the city’s tourist attractions are based in the city centre, but there are a few things worth taking a look at if you happen to be in this area. In the west, close to the river, is the Tour de Champel, a small castle constructed in the 1800’s, a monument to the supposed healing properties of the Arve River.
At the heart of the neighbourhood is Alfred Bertrand Park, a sprawling green area with plenty of space to run around or relax. The park has numerous facilities catering to children, such as play areas and splash pools. This makes it an ideal place to visit if you are travelling with children who need to burn off some energy.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN CHAMPEL IF:
- You want to stay close to the city centre but away from the crowds
- You are working with a larger budget
- You are travelling with children
5. Grand Saconnex – Best Place to Stay Near Aiport in Geneva
On the western edge of Geneva, surrounding Geneva Airport, is the district of Grand Saconnex. If you want to stay near the airport, or are just passing through for a layover, this neighbourhood is ideal.
Aside from the airport, the district is also home to the Palexpo Convention centre, which hosts a variety of other events throughout the year, including the internationally popular annual Geneva Motor Show. Additionally, the Geneva Arena is another popular event venue drawing tourists to the area.
With so many important venues in the area, there is a wide range of accommodation catering to the visitors who wish to stay near them. Bear in mind that around the time of major events, hotels can start charging premium prices due to the higher demand, so make sure to check ahead and book your hotel as far in advance as possible to avoid price hikes.
Several major roads connect Grand Saconnex to the city centre, providing convenient access to the major sights and attractions. Depending on your preference, a taxi or bus ride can have you in the heart of the city in just a few minutes.
If you have time to spare, but don’t fancy venturing into the city, there are several attractive parks you can relax in. The Sarasin Park is directly next to the Palexpo Exhibition Centre, so is ideal for anyone attending an event and looking for somewhere to get away from the excitement for a moment.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN GRAND SACONNEX IF:
- You want to stay near to the airport
- You are attending an event at the Palexpo Exhibition Centre
- You are in town for the Geneva Motor Show
- You are attending an event at the Geneva Arena
6. Eaux Vives – Best Green Area to Stay in Geneva
Eaux Vives is located along the southernmost banks of Lac Lamon, directly east of Cité. The neighbourhood is particularly ideal for anyone who wants to stay close to the city centre, whilst also taking in some stunning views out across the lake. If you want to head out onto the water, there are several water ferry terminals operating along the marina, to various destinations around the lake.
Aside from the wonderful views across the water, Eaux Vives is also home to some of Geneva’s loveliest parks. In the west, at the border with Cité, where the Rhone River meets Lac Lamon, is the beautiful Jardin Anglais. This leafy public garden features fountains, statues, cafes, and a vibrant clock made of flowers.
In the northeast corner is La Grange Park, one of the largest parks in Geneva. In addition to a number of vast lawns, the park boasts a rose garden, cafes, restaurants, a theatre, and space for open air performances in the summer.
Malagnou Park, towards the city centre, is small but notable for being home to Geneva’s Natural History Museum. The museum hosts multiple fascinating exhibitions, covering the history and science of the natural world. With activities and displays designed to educate and entertain visitors of all ages, this is a great place to visit if you are travelling with family and children.
There is a wide variety of accommodation available here, suitable for a range of budgets. Being slightly outside of the primary city centre, you can generally get a little more for your money here. However, if you plan to stay close to the waterfront, you should expect to pay a bit more for the premium lake views.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN EAUX VIVES IF:
- You want to stay somewhere overlooking the lake
- You love parks and green space
- You want to stay close to the city centre but with less of the urban claustrophobia
- You are travelling with children
7. Pâquis Nations – Where to Stay in Geneva Near Train Station
Pâquis Nations is a large neighbourhood, stretching along the west bank of Lac Lamon. One of the neighbourhood’s most distinctive traits is the wide mass of train tracks that stretches through the centre of the district. At the southern end of Pâquis Nations is the main Geneva Train Station, with connections to various locations across Switzerland and neighbouring countries. If you are travelling to or from the city by train and wish to stay near to the station, this is the neighbourhood for you.
One of the most popular attractions of the area is the Bains des Pâquis public bath, a small portion of the lake by the marina, that is sectioned off to allow for safe swimming in the summer. In the winter, the area transitions into a public sauna venue.
In the north of the neighbourhood are several large parks, two of which host museums and entertainment amenities. The Mon Repos Park is situated up against the lake and hosts a small museum, dedicated to the history of science.
At the very northernmost end of Pâquis Nations is the grand Parc de l’Ariana, one of the largest parks in Geneva. The east of the park is home to botanical gardens, several conservatories and green houses, a zen garden, and a small zoo.
The west end of the park is most notable for housing the Palais des Nations, the European headquarters of the United Nations. It is also the grounds for the architecturally beautiful Ariana Museum, which hosts a collection of thousands of glass items.
The neighbourhood is a mixed bag as far as pricing for accommodation. Along the waterfront, hotels and apartments demand premium rates for the privilege of both lake views and being surrounded by the high-end cafes, bars, and restaurants that populate the area around the banks. Meanwhile, further inland, towards the train station, you can find some of the more affordable options in the city.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN PÂQUIZ NATIONS IF:
- You are travelling in or out of the city by train
- You want to stay near the lake or plan to go swimming in it
- You’re on a budget but want a neighbourhood near the city centre with plenty to see and do
Where To Stay In Geneva On The Lake
If you specifically want to stay somewhere overlooking the lake, your best options are the neighbourhoods of Eaux Vives or Pâquis Nations.
The closer you stay to the waterfront, the higher the premium you will have to pay for the privilege. The Hotel Beau Rivage is a ‘superb’ option in Pâquis Nations, overlooking the marina and a plaza with several interesting sculptures and statues. Alternatively, the HouseBoat, Dormez sur le lac is a more affordable, self-catering option, that will have you literally on the water.
Across the water in Eaux Vives is another ‘superb’ houseboat option, the Floatinn Boat-BnB, which makes up for its smaller private space with more amenities, such as a bar and restaurant.
Where To Stay In Geneva On A Budget
There is a range of options for accommodation to suit every budget, across the breadth of the city, but if you really want to save money during your trip to Geneva, consider staying in Pâquis Nations.
The region, just the other side of the Rhone River from the city centre, is ideally located to put you within convenient distance of the major attractions, whilst avoiding the steeper inner-city prices. Home to the main Geneva Train Station, and well connected to the airport, staying here may also save you money on transport to and from your hotel.
The Hotel des Tourelles is a ‘very good’ affordable option, close to the Coulouvrenière Bridge that connects over to the city centre.
Where To Stay In Geneva For One Night
If you are only staying in Geneva for a short time, the central district of Cité is ideal. Full of historic sights, a plethora of museums, and plentiful options for wining, dining, and shopping, Cité contains everything you need to experience the city of Geneva in just a short time. Public transport links will connect you quickly to both the airport and main train terminal, so you won’t need to worry about wasting too much of your limited time travelling into and out of the city.
The beautiful Hôtel Métropole Genève is a ‘fabulous’ option, overlooking the lake and situated on a major road leading directly to both the airport and train station. The hotel is just a short walk from the bustling city centre, or you can enjoy the hospitality available at the hotel itself and take in the waterfront views from the rooftop bar.
Where To Stay Near Geneva Airport
If you intend to stay as close as possible to the airport, you should be looking in the Grand Saconnex district. The area sits at the west edge of Geneva and directly surrounds the airport. Along with the airport, there are also several convention centres and entertainment venues here, drawing a wide array of accommodation to the area.
The Novotel Suites Genève Aéroport is a particularly ‘fabulous’ option. Just minutes from the airport and offering free use of public transport for guests who want to venture into the city, this hotel is the height of convenience.
Where To Stay In Geneva For Skiing
Whilst Geneva itself may not be a bustling hotspot of ski resorts, its surrounding landscape is full of popular ski destinations. If the primary purpose of your trip is to spend all your time on the slopes, then you would be better off staying near to the resorts themselves, outside of the city of Geneva.
However, if you want to explore the city and just spend a day or two skiing, there are several locations within an hour’s journey of Geneva. As the primary point of entry for those travelling on to the nearby ski resorts, Geneva Airport is well connected with transport to various popular locations.
Grand Saconnex, the area directly surrounding the airport, will allow you convenient access both into the city centre and out to the surrounding ski resorts.
Where To Stay For Geneva Motor Show
The annual Geneva Motor Show is held in the Palexpo exhibition centre. The centre is located in the Grand-Saconnex district, near to the airport. Whilst there are plenty of hotels available across the district if you intend to explore the city as well as attend the show, there are a number of options directly in and around the expo centre if you want to stay as close as possible.
The Ibis Budget Geneve Palexpo Aeroport is a ‘very good’ option, directly next to the Palexpo Centre and with views over the Sarasin Park. Boasting stylish, modern rooms, a buffet breakfast, and located just minutes from the airport, staying here means you won’t have to worry about anything but enjoying the show.
Geneva is a beautiful city, both in its natural landscape and its human architecture. If you are looking for a city break with all the excitement and convenience of a modern metropolitan centre, combined with the opportunity to relax in nature, this is the destination for you.