When it comes to hotels, I’m always on the lookout for three things: cleanliness, location, and value for money. Luckily, in Europe, it is possible to get all three, unlike in Asia, where 1-star or no-star hotels compromise a lot on the cleanliness aspect.
Hôtel Central in Geneva fulfilled all three of these criteria and more. When DH and I stayed there on our first ever trip to Geneva in 1999, I remembered it to be clean and well-located, and I found the prices to be very reasonable by Geneva standards because the hotels there are very, very expensive. Our second stay in Hôtel Central confirmed that my memory didn’t fail me.
The rooms and toilets were all clean and well-maintained. The sheets and towels were immaculate white. Hôtel Central passes with flying colours in the cleanliness criteria.
Location, Location, Location
I find Hôtel Central’s location to be very convenient indeed. It’s very close to a tram stop and a bus stop (both known as ‘Bel-Air’). You can go anywhere in Geneva to and from the hotel very easily, thanks to Switzerland’s excellent public transport system, coupled with the free Geneva Transport Card card.
There are plenty of shops and restaurants all around, including an H&M outlet, a small art gallery and the Confédération Centre Shopping Mall. A Migros outlet for your grocery needs is about 3 minutes away in Rue Molard. There’s even a charming small fresh market (marked marché in the map above) in the daytime not far from Migros, where they sold crepes, fresh fruits and vegetables (including round eggplants slightly bigger than a baseball and artichokes bigger than my fist!), fresh pasta and cheeses.
The hotel is right smack in the centre of Geneva’s Old Town, so most of the attractions can be reached on foot. The lake (and the Jet d’Eau) is less than 5 minutes away. The Flower Clock is less than 10 minutes away. The main train station, Gare Cornavin (on the upper left hand side of the map), is about 5 minutes away. But if you have luggage with you, you’d be better off taking the bus to Gare Cornavin.
Like I said, it’s all about the location and Hotel Central scores a perfect 10 in this category for me.
Value for Money
Hôtel Central gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “value for money,” as they offer several room options to suit your budget.
They have budget rooms, which have bunk beds and a small in-room shower. By small, I mean small, as in about 3 feet by 3 feet. I know, it’s pretty cramped. But the name is budget, right? The toilet a.k.a. WC or water closet is right down the hall. Up to 3 persons per room.
The compact rooms are slightly bigger than the budget rooms but still quite small…or compact, as the name suggests. The plus side is that the shower and WC are inside the room.
If the budget rooms and compact rooms make you feel kinda claustrophobic, you can opt for the standard rooms without breaking the bank. They’re…well…standard-sized 😛 They feature en-suite bathroom (shower and WC) and can accommodate up to 3 persons.
The hotel also offers large rooms come with 2 en-suite bathrooms (shower and WC) and can accommodate up to 5 persons.
If your budget allows it, the junior suite is wonderful, with a charming four-poster double bed, a living room and a bathroom (with bathtub and WC). Only 2 persons, please.
Room rates, as of this writing, are as below:-
1-2 persons – CHF90
3 persons – CHF120
1-2 persons – CHF110
Standard (twin or double)
1-2 persons – CHF140
3 persons – CHF170
1-2 persons – CHF160
3 persons – CHF190
4 persons – CHF220
5 persons – CHF250
Junior Suite (double bed)
1-2 persons – CHF200
All rates are in Swiss Francs (CHF) and are nett of all taxes.
Room charges include a daily continental breakfast, which is served right in the privacy of your room. Upon check in, they will ask you what time you prefer to have your breakfast and if you prefer coffee or tea. Standard breakfast fare is a croissant and a bun or roll, with several types of jam and delicious Swiss butter.
When DH and I went to Geneva in 1999 sans prior hotel booking, the only room available in the whole of Geneva back then was a budget room in Hôtel Central. DH gamely stayed in the upper bunk and we had a laugh over the tiny shower stall. The next day, we asked for a bigger room and we were given the junior suite. It was beautiful but a bit too large for 2 people on a business trip. So on our third night, we moved to a standard room and it was just right. I felt kinda like Goldilocks — “Oh! This room is too small…this room is too big…Ahh! This room is just right!” 😉
Apt No 43
This time around, since there were three of us, I opted to book us a 2-bedroom apartment. We got apartment number 43, which has 2 rooms (1 double bed and 2 twin beds) and a bathroom (bathtub and WC). The hotel’s website says it has parquet flooring but it’s actually laminate wood flooring. There’s cable TV, a telephone, an entry hall.
What I loved the most about the apartment was the fully equipped kitchen with oven, 4 hot plates, fridge, freezer, dishwasher, washing machine/dryer, even an iron and an ironing board. The living room was spacious and had a flat screen TV. The bedrooms also had a small TV each. The dining room — with a dining table that can easily seat 6 people — connects to a small balcony, where you can see the Alps in the distance on a clear day. The apartment can comfortably accommodate up to 4 persons.
At CHF300 per night — inclusive of heating, electricity and water — it was a steal.
Oh…and did I tell you that there’s free Wifi broadband internet access? Except that they had problems on the second and third day but the hotel proprietress, Christine Gangsted, graciously offered to let me use the desktop PC in their office.
The hotel owners, Christine and Erik Gangsted, were very warm, friendly and helpful and made us feel very welcome and at home, especially since Christine speaks — surprise! — some Bahasa Indonesia. This is because the Gangsted family used to live in Asia, with a few years in Bali in particular, where Erik Gangsted worked with several prestigious hotel chains. They made us feel so at home that, every time we’d go back to the hotel, it felt like going home somehow.
You can book your room or apartment through the hotel’s website, and — this is VERY important — make sure you give your credit card details to get a CONFIRMED booking.
Take note though, that Hôtel Central, at first glance, does not look like your typical hotel. First of all, it is located in the upper floors of a commercial building. There is no imposing lobby to welcome you at the ground floor, just a small sign, hardly noticeable, hanging outside. You go into a small entrance, squeeze into a lift that’s just enough to fit two adults and their luggage, then go up to the 6th floor where the Reception is located. The rooms are in the 5th and 6th floors, the apartments in the 7th floor. There is no lift from the 6th to the 7th floor so you’ll have to carry your luggage yourself.