Playing host to over 200 of the world’s largest influential corporate and governing bodies, Geneva is a manicured bohemia filled with a selection of everything that the high-class international traveller could want. Hotels, restaurants and boutique stores are of the finest quality, while the city itself offers a feast of entertainments and trendy distractions to tempt even the strictest dieter to reach for the luxury chocolates.
As HQ to some of the world’s biggest organisations, hotels in Geneva can be on the expensive side, catering mainly for business travellers, but the situation is gradually changing. At the top end is five-star Grand Hotel Kempinski Geneva (Quai Du Mont Blanc 19); come for the Lake Geneva view, stay for the great service. Guests at Hotel Warwick (Rue de Lausanne 14) next to the train station are right in the thick of the action, whilst those on a smaller budget should try a stay at the aptly-named Hotel Central (Rue de la Rôtisserie 2) where rooms are basic but clean and simply decorated.
Geneva’s shopping isn’t all watches and cuckoo clocks. Bargain hunters must head to Plaine de Plainpalais on a Saturday where the second-hand market sells all types of bric-a-brac, including books, clothes and antiques. Foodies can marvel at mountains of fresh produce, meat and cheeses at La Halle de Rive’s indoor food market (Boulevard Helvétique 29) whilst Globus department store (Rue du Rhône 48) is good for a browse, with homewares, fashion and an extravagant food court – home to an oysters and champagne bar – all under one roof. If money’s no object, plan a visit to Bongénie (Rue du Marché 34), the designer department store housing a great selection of international and home-grown fashion brands.
Reflecting Geneva’s international denizens, the city’s restaurant scene is overwhelmingly diverse. It pays to do your research here, as price isn’t always indicative of quality. For pan-Asian fare and delicious sushi, head out of the centre to Pakùpakù (Rue Vautier 43) in Carouge. Pizza options abound but trendy types will enjoy the cool warehouse stylings of La Fumisterie (Rue des Noirettes 21). Le Rouge et Le Blanc (Quai des Bergues 27) is a charming riverside wine bar serving excellent wine and tapas. For something a little different, try La Tour du Molard (Place du Molard 20), a great spot for an aperitif located in a 16th-century tower.
The Swiss art world descends upon Geneva every January for one of the biggest art fairs in Europe. Even if you’re not an art aficionado, a visit here will have that ‘collecting’ muscle twitching.
Bol d’Or Mirabaud
Lake Geneva is the setting for this spectacular boat race, where nearly 600 sailboats race the full length of the lake and back at top speeds in a bid to win the Bol d’Or. Cheer from the banks, before settling in with a glass of wine and picnic and getting ready for the celebratory after-party ahead.
Fête de la Musique
This three-day festival is a must for any music lover, as Geneva rings out with the sound of daily free concerts in the city’s parks. Genres range from jazz to classical and everything in between.
Fêtes de Genève
Carnival fever takes hold of Geneva when festival time rolls around; the city is given over to celebrating every aspect of its culture, be it art, music or dance. Join in the party with a ride on the Ferris wheel and late-night dancing on the banks of Lake Geneva.
Coupe de Noël
Fancy a dip? In the middle of winter? Despite the cold weather, it seems around 1,000 crazy souls do, as the traditional Christmas dip sees them brave a 125m swim in the near-frozen waters of Lake Geneva, all in the name of fun and games.