Sleeping Around Zürich
Photos in order: Courtesy Jakub (1); Courtesy Nick Malgieri (2)
Story by Nick Malgieri
Zürich is loaded with superlatives: frequently voted the most livable city in the world, it’s the cultural and financial capital of Switzerland and the wealthiest city in Europe.
Host to this year’s Europride 09 festivities, Zurich is as gay-friendly as a city can be. Canton Zurich, the Swiss state of which the city is the capital, was the first to legalize same-sex unions in 2002 and led the way to the nationwide referendum which passed in 2005. The city’s active and activist gay life is apparent everywhere -- from Barfuesser, reputed to be the oldest gay bar in Europe, to the city government’s recent welcome of Berlin’s openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, as guest of honor for Sechselaeuten, the annual spring festival of the mediaeval guilds.
And that was way before Zurich’s citizens elected an openly lesbian Mayor, Corine Mauch, now in office.
Eating and sleeping in Zürich can be as cheap or expensive as you wish, though there are many excellent moderate choices available. For a full list see www.zuerich.com, which lists hotels by starred categories, and restaurants by district and style of food. The suggestions below are all personal favorites, gleaned from over 35 years of frequent travel to the city.
Not to worry, you’re in Switzerland, land of the world’s greatest hotels. Even an inexpensive room will be spotlessly clean and in most cases include a buffet breakfast. If you need air conditioning as soon as the temperature rises above 60 degrees, make sure you inquire before making your reservation. Most hotels in and above the 3-star category have air conditioned rooms, but it’s not always a standard feature.
To compute prices, US dollars are equal to a small fraction more than a Swiss Franc. Please note that hotel prices may fluctuate according to occupancy and the day of the week, weekends usually being less expensive.
Zürich’s only hotel directly on the west bank of the Limmat River, the Storchen, as everyone calls it, is a small jewel that has been my Zürich home for over 25 years. My best recommendation if you have a generous travel budget, the Storchen combines elegantly decorated and comfortable rooms with friendly and efficient service. Chief concierge Gennaro heads up a team that assures you a smiling welcome, help with any reservations you might need, and accurate directions to any city destination.
Dinner on the terrace balcony overlooking the river, the cathedral, and the east bank old town is a dream. Single room, breakfast included, CHF430., double CHF600, less on weekends.
Just in from the east river bank and near the cathedral, the Hotel Altstadt has the best location in its price range. The well-appointed rooms have a sleek contemporary look and include free computer connections. I love the small street-level café and the hotel’s late night “let yourself in and out” key policy. Single room, breakfast included, CHF195., double CHF245., less on weekends.
Hotel Adler *** (Rosengasse 10; 8001 Zurich; 011 4144 266 9696; e-mail here)
Situated right on busy Niederdorfstrasse, the Broadway of Zurich’s east bank old town, the Adler is a popular tourist destination. The hotel’s ground floor restaurant is one of Zurich’s favorite spots for fondue and raclette. The rooms are well furnished and reasonably priced. Single room, breakfast included, CHF 120-200, double CHF 200-300, depending on occupancy.
I haven’t stayed here but it looks inviting, especially from the point of view of the prices and the fact that it’s only a 10-minute tram ride from the center of the city. The lowest priced rooms are like slick dorm rooms -- it makes perfect sense since the hotel is adjacent to the university and specializes in long-term stays, though shorter ones are also quite available. Some rooms have equipped kitchenettes; maid service with change of bed linen and towels only once per week. Laundry room available. Single room with shower, no kitchen, CHF90., double with or without extra bed, add CHF10. Needless to say, breakfast is not included, but there is outdoor parking for CHF5.00 per day.