30/12/12 – A cheap, handy hotel in Geneva

Last week I travelled from Geneva to London after a few days’ Christmas skiing. I needed to be at my desk in Victoria by 10am on 27/12. When I booked my flight on 4 December, the cheapest fares to Gatwick, both around £100, were last thing on 26/12 or at 7am on 27/12, both with Easyjet.

After totting up train and taxi fares to get me home in the Surrey countryside in the middle of the night, and other logistics, I opted for the 7am, plus a hotel in Geneva on 26/12.

My £100 room in central Geneva

My £100 room in central Geneva

Tripadvisor users pointed me towards the Manotel Kipling, near the station, and I paid £100 for a double (split between two of us), through one of the booking sites (booking.com or hotels.com, I think). As the trains from town to airport take less than 10 minutes and start well before dawn, there was no need to pay a premium for an airport hotel.

On 26/12 I caught a train to Geneva from Sion (SF46/£32 single) at 6.06pm, arriving about 8pm. I exited the city/boats side, and used the maps on boards near the trams outside the station (which is under refurbishment) to find Rue de la Navigation, as I’d forgotten to print a map.

...and from another angle

…and from another angle

It took me about three minutes to walk to the Manotel Kipling, turning left out of the station and following the main road for about 250m, before turning right into Navigation.

I’d had a picnic, but I could see there were cheap-and-cheerful places to eat, many Asian and Middle Eastern, on the way. A couple of the side-streets in this part of town are seedy but you don’t need to walk down those to reach the hotel.

The male receptionist was friendly and professional. I checked out at the same time as checking in, paying my SF3.30 taxe de sejour (tourist tax), in return for which I was given a travel card, which covered my morning fare to the airport.

The bathroom was nice; there were even weighing scales. Not sure a great idea to test them out after Christmas

The bathroom was nice; there were even weighing scales. Not sure a great idea to test them out after Christmas

For £50 each, room 209 was a winner. The temperature was spot on, the bed large and comfy, the carpet and furnishings fresh, new, attractive and restful and the lighting well designed.

The suitcase stand was solid and large, there was at least one full-length mirror, I was able to let in extra air by opening the window and there was a Christmas sweet on each pillow.

The smartly striped, wooden-floored bathroom was bright and clean, with good soap, a decent-sized bath and shower, plus weighing scales.

Tea and coffee - they must get a few English guests

Tea and coffee – they must get a few English guests

Wi-Fi was free, strong and simple to access. The street outside was quiet.

All this makes it, I reckon, a good bet if you’re on the way to or from the Alps on an early or late and need a convenient, good value hotel.

The negatives: the fridge wasn’t turned on (to store my following day’s picnic rather than raid the mini-bar), and a requested 5.30am wake-up call never sounded.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy own alarm did, and I was on the 5.59am train to the airport (arrival 6.06am), only to find a giant queue for security (“less than 15 minutes”, promised a screen: it was more like 25), which had me worried about missing the flight.

I didn’t, and here I am back in grey, rainy England, with the surprise of an on-time Gatwick Express for the same price as the Southern Trains (my usual carrier) trip.

Apparently, until 1 January a single fare on the GatExp has been reduced to £13.50 from £18.90 because engineering works are making it S-L-O-W-E-R than its usual half hour.

A polite, orderly Swiss queueA polite, orderly Swiss queue

A polite, orderly Swiss queue

Which, I confirm, after spending nearly 50 minutes chugging into London, it certainly is…

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