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Opting for a hostel in Geneva is a great way to check off this Swiss city on a budget. In a town that's better known for its glitzy hotels and chic bistros, these are the stays that offer a rare bout of budget-friendly travel. They do that by favouring dorm-style sleeping arrangements and shared bathroom spaces, focusing on only the bare necessities – think laundry facilities, free WiFi and self-catering kitchens. But, hostels in Geneva can also be an experience in their own right. They are great places to meet and mingle with like-minded travellers. You'll share stories in the common rooms and forge new friendships, all while enjoying proximity to the sparkling waters of Lake Geneva, the spurting Jet d'Eau and the enthralling Reformation-era history of sites like the Cathedrale St-Pierre.
The main reason you might want to skip hotels and home in on hostels in Geneva are the rates. There's a good chance that these sorts of stays will offer the very best bang for your buck in this otherwise notoriously pricy Swiss city. In fact, it's common to find that the largest dorms come in at just a fraction of the cost of a traditional hotel, with a bed in a four- or eight-bed room the norm. You can also get some super-cheap private rooms, which are perfect if you're keen on a little seclusion during your romantic break to the fondue kitchens and raclette restaurants of the Old Town. Other hostels in Geneva make their home on the outskirts of the centre, promising quieter nights in characterful residential neighbourhoods.
One of the great draws of choosing a hostel in Geneva is the unique charm and atmosphere that comes with the stay. Vibrant and energetic, hostels are the go-to place for young backpackers. That means lounges and dormitories filled with fellow travellers ready to share stories. It also means dedicated reception staff with a good idea about what to recommend for a memorable, budget-friendly stay in Switzerland. In addition, it's possible to get packages with breakfast included, so continental cheeses, pastries, bread and coffee could be waiting to fuel those shopping and sightseeing trips through the Rue-Basses and Old Town each morning.
You'll need to think about what you want from your break in this lovely lakeside city before booking your hostel in Geneva. Some areas are certainly worth having on the radar. Start with the Old Town. A maze of cobbled lanes and characterful boutiques, it's anchored on the gorgeous Cathedrale St-Pierre – the one-time heart of the Calvinist Reformation. Around that is the so-called Rue-Basses, which is surely among the swankiest parts of town, brimming with more Gucci and Prada and bespoke jewellers than you can shake a fondue fork at. An attractive alternative is the independent town of Carouge, where babbling Italian fountains give way to bustling farmers' markets on summer weekends. Of course, you can launch day trips to places like CERN and the historic spa towns that line the banks of the lake from any of the above.