Geneva – so often under the radar but is actually a haven of luxury at every corner. And it doesn’t have to involve fondue, watches or chocolate. Expect the unexpected from gin making to beaches at Bains des Paquis. This summer, Geneva has created a unique and exclusive experience called Resort Geneva. From 1 July to 31 August, every tourist visiting Geneva will receive a complimentary Geneva Resort Pass, with discounts or free access to over 100 activities, together with a Geneva Transport Card, allowing unlimited access to the entire city.
Getting There and Getting Around
From the UK, the most efficient way is to fly. Swiss Air offers a number of flight options per day leaving at sensible hours. Once you land in Geneva (GVA), public transport is free for tourists and available widely in any hotel or as part of the Geneva City Pass. From the airport, take any train to Geneva which takes 7 minutes on a futuristic double decker train. All transport in Geneva is free for the full duration of your stay with the Geneva Transport Card and there are trams, trains, buses and even a boat taxi to ferry you across the lake.
Geneva is the second biggest city in Switzerland but it is so easy to explore in a few days. Surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains, the city has views of the wonderful Mont Blanc. Headquarters of Europe’s United Nations and the Red Cross, it’s a global hub for diplomacy and banking. French influence is widespread, from the language to gastronomy and bohemian districts like Carouge.
This summer, taking inspiration from locals, Geneva has created a unique and exclusive experience. From 1 July to 31 August, every tourist visiting Geneva will receive a complimentary Geneva Resort Pass, with discounts or free access to over 100 activities, together with a Geneva Transport Card, allowing unlimited access to the entire city.
’Geneva, The Resort City’ is all about enjoying the entire city of Geneva, captured by six amateur photographers, as a summer resort. This captures every element of Summer including:
Your swimming pool: Wild swimming in Lake Geneva and its inimitable Jet d’Eau fountain.
Your garden: Explore 1,400 hectares of vineyards, the longest wine tour, by foot or by e-bike.
Your playground: A lake and two rivers where you can raft or canoe.
Your Terrace: The Old Town and its dolce vita.
Your restaurant: The Swiss capital of gastronomy, with more than 100 different cuisines. It’s not all fondue and chocolate!
Your events: Geneva will put on an exciting roster of events over the summer including Musiques en été (1-26 August) with outdoor gigs (complimentary and paid) and Ciné Transat (14 July- 21 August) that includes complimentary open-air film screenings.
Where to stay – The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix
Geneva is full of five-star luxury hotels, many of which are boutique-led properties. The Ritz Carlton is a global brand but the Geneva property is very much a boutique destination with a stunning backdrop. One of the most celebrated hotels in Geneva and open since 1865, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix is the smallest Ritz-Carlton property in the world and also a central location from which to discover the delights of Geneva. Recently refurbished, the attention to detail is incredible throughout from the scent enveloping the air through to the super comfortable bedroom slippers, this is by far one of the finest five-star hotels in all of Switzerland.
Our room (No. 209)
Our Premium Lake Front room comes with its own private terrace offering sweeping views of Lake Geneva, Jet d’Eau, Mont Blanc, and the old town. The room has an open-plan design spanning a total of 420 SQ FT, seamlessly blending modern design, functionality, and the hotel’s deep heritage. This room felt more like a suite.
The room features a sophisticated yet modern art deco design in muted tones of pale blue, warm grey and mellow mocha, creating an elegant sanctuary and providing the setting for a mix of old and new features. Rooms are also equipped with the latest technologies, from the SmartTV to the sophisticated lighting system. In addition, the floor-to-ceiling windows fill the room with natural light and are further enhanced by stunning views from the balcony.
Thoughtful touches include the carpets designed with an abstract illustration of the Swiss Alps. Seeing these very mountains from the comfort of your bed is truly an exceptional experience of connecting with the nature of Switzerland. The spacious marble bathroom is separated by a glass divider and offers a separate rainfall shower room, a deep and opulent bathtub and luxurious Diptyque toiletries.
Entering the lobby inside the extraordinary multi-story atrium, I was taken aback by the grand crystal chandelier, with black-and-white marble floors, touches of gold accents, and marble columns circling the space. It offers a contemporary, trendy feel without sacrificing original architectural design.
The hotel offers two dining experiences, a homage to Geneva’s underrated gastronomic scene. Fiskebar introduces a new Nordic-fusion concept, a first-of-its-kind in Geneva. The nature-inspired space offers a beautiful lake view while offering bold flavours with an emphasis on quality and seasonal ingredients. Attached next door is Fred by Fiskebar. The bar is a fusion of the cosmopolitan lifestyle and local glamour. The intimate room is filled with displays of ornate and intriguing artwork, all the while offering a mysterious blend of vintage style and experimental mixology.
The second dining venue within the hotel is the Living Room Bar & Kitchen, which offers an all-day dining menu. The cosy lounge-style setting is enhanced with elements of the building’s historic original features, such as the over 150-year-old parquet and walnut floor, a fireplace, and superb views of the lake. The lavish breakfast is one of the finest in the city, gastronomy-focused. The a la carte breakfast menu offers healthy, seasonal and creative cuisine. We recommend the avocado toast, freshly blended avocado topped with organic poached eggs, and what amazed us most was the innovative off-menu green juice which uses fresh mint leaves, elevating the smell and taste profile – genius! On our last day, we opt for that extra bit of luxury, enjoying our breakfast from the comfort and privacy of our room on the balcony.
The Ritz-Carlton Geneva has long been a haunt for icons since the opening of the grand hotel, attracting the legendary Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly and many more. While there are no spa or pool facilities within the hotel, there is instead an impressive fitness room. Another highlight of the hotel includes the unique exhibition space, which currently hosts an Audemars Piguet exhibition and presents artist Alexandre Joly’s new sound work.
To discover more, visit: ritzcarlton.com/geneva
The Geneva City Pass
Geneva is a great destination for a city break. Nestled on the shores of sparkling Lake Geneva with dramatic mountains all around, a well-preserved mediaeval old town and fascinating museums, there is truly an endless list of things to do.
Those looking to get the most out of their trip get to enjoy the privileges of Geneva’s city passes, which offer free entry or discounts of up to 50% for over 50 different attractions, plus unlimited free public transport on local trams, buses, trains, and the super fun bright yellow Mouette water taxi.
A must-do with the Geneva City Pass is to head into the Old Town and climb to the top of the towers of St. Pierre’s Cathedral for unparalleled views over the rooftops and lake. Entry inside the cathedral itself is free, but the Geneva City Pass allows you to enter off-limit areas such as the viewpoint and archaeological crypts underneath, where you’ll see artefacts dating back to the 4th century. Those looking for something more modern instead might enjoy the Patek Philippe Museum with its impressive watch collection, or for art lovers, don’t miss the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, all included within the pass!
The Geneva City Pass offers incredible value, irrespective of the length of your stay, be it 24, 48, or 72 hours.
Our Geneva Diary
Sunday lunch at La Potinière restaurant
La Potinière is ideally located in the city centre with an outstanding view over the Jet d’Eau within the Jardin Anglais park. Set along the shore of the lake and surrounded by greenery, the restaurant offers a French and European a la carte menu and a brunch buffet option on Sundays. A friendly ambiance in typical Geneva style, all staff were adorned with a Lacoste uniform.
This local hangout spot is the spot to sit back, relax, and people watch. We recommend sitting outside, where it is incredibly peaceful despite the bustle of the shopping districts. We ordered the stunning cote du boeuf, a generous portion size even for three people. This 900g Black Angus beef rib was sizzling with rich marbling and intense beef flavours. It comes with a giant bowl of French fries, a salad, Béarnaise sauce and buttery bone marrow.
An afternoon cruise on Lake Geneva
From Pierres du Niton to Pointe à la Bise, this hour-long cruise experience gives you a close-up view of the Jet d’Eau fountain, the Mont-Blanc mountains, monuments, famous villas, the UN buildimgs, and even the parks and gardens bordering the lake. Lake Geneva is definitely the main attraction of Geneva. The lake waters are crystal clear, just like in the Maldives, and cover an area of approximately 580 square kilometres. You can do many fun outdoor activities around Lake Geneva, from boating to hiking and cycling.
A Fondue Dinner at Les Armures
Les Armures Restaurant is housed in a 17th-century building on a cobblestone street in the mediaeval old town, one of the city’s most picturesque spots. It is widely regarded as one of the oldest restaurants and best fondues in Geneva. Les Armures has welcomed famous guests such as Bill Clinton, George Clooney, and John F. Kennedy. Renowned for its history and authentic, traditional fondue unique to Geneva, it is a popular spot among locals and visitors.
The menu offers Swiss and French cuisine in a friendly and cosy space while radiating a folkloric atmosphere. The venue is decorated with ancestral décor, maintaining its historic heritage. When in Switzerland, do as the Swiss do and tuck into a pot of glorious fondue. With eight different types to choose from, it is cheese heaven. We recommend you go for the fondue moitié-moitié, using Vacherin and Gruyere cheese.
It has an insta-worthy cheese pull and gives off a rich and deep flavour. This traditional and authentic dish is a fun way of experiencing the real Switzerland. The extensive menu offers more than just fondue. We ordered the Swiss escargot; these are snails cooked in a rich garlic sauce and Mont d’or cheese, which has a delicious nutty earthy taste. For something sweet, we suggest the Sorbet Williamine. It is a refreshing pear sorbet that has been drenched with pear Williamine brandy.
Explore Geneva’s rich history in chocolate-making which dates back hundreds of years, while indulging in an array of delights with the Choco Pass. For those with a sweet tooth, the Choco Pass is a wonderful way to explore the city while tasting the unique know-how of local chocolate makers. Your Choco Pass is activated as soon as you enter the first chocolate shop which is valid for 24 hours and entitles you to a selection of chocolates from seven of the finest chocolatiers in Geneva. You will get to taste the famous Geneva Pavé at Stettler’s and chocolates are available to experience in the shops or take away too. We spent the morning wandering between the chocolate shops but if you wanted to, you could walk quickly and visit all seven in an hour and take away your goodies.
My favourite is the famous local specialty Pavés de Genève, or cobblestones of Geneva. These small square chocolates, dusted in cocoa powder, are the city’s signature chocolate, with each chocolatier claiming to have the best recipe. Once I place these perfect chocolate squares into my mouth, it instantly melts covering my taste buds and setting an explosion of flavours. Magical moments like these are what the Choco Pass is all about.
Lunch at Bains des Pâquis
Bains des Pâquis is Geneva’s answer to a beach experience, Swiss style. Located in one of the most popular spots in Geneva, it is an artificial peninsular surrounded by a lively sandy beach on Lake Geneva. Its scenery is beautiful and unmistakeable with a lighthouse at the end, popular with swimmers and locals looking to relax at the facilities here, which include two saunas, a hammam and Turkish baths.
We had lunch at Buvette des Bains, somewhere where many locals come to enjoy a daily changing menu enjoyed in a casual setting. The restaurant offers a relaxed canteen-style atmosphere, serving great food at a reasonable price, especially for Geneva. From hot dishes to Greek salads and ice cream, it is somewhere to mingle with locals.
An afternoon at INITIUM Watchmaking Workshop
Initium offers a complete immersion in the fascinating world of mechanical timepieces, and this is a hands-on experience. Its ambition is to reveal the secrets of watchmaking, an ancestral skill that over the centuries has become synonymous with Switzerland. With a mini screwdriver and tweezers in hand, experience the unique thrill of assembling and disassembling a watch. The session starts with an educational tour through the history of watches, gaining a deeper understanding of how and why watches are made and the importance they have had throughout our history. The session is guided by a watch specialist, who dissects each of the watches’ mechanical movements and explains each process. It is truly an interesting and educational experience, which ends with a printed polaroid picture of our experience.
Dinner at Chez Philippe restaurant
Philippe Chevrier is one of the most renowned Genevan chefs, and what we liked about the menu was that it had an element of innovation and also a lot of world-class ingredients. Grilled meat and fish are the specialities here. Featured in the Michelin Guide, it is located in the Passage des Lions. Be sure to experience Swiss beef and wine, as these are rarely exported outside of Switzerland. The restaurant offers a fun, vibrant modern brasserie atmosphere, with friendly service throughout.
To begin, some of the best starters I have had this year. An inventive and unique crab cake with finely shredded spun pastry called kataifi instead of breadcrumbs; the freshest tuna and avocado tartare; and the creamiest, richest lobster bisque. Moving onto the main course, it is worth mentioning that all the meats are sourced from the renowned Boucherie de Molard, and the fish are caught locally. We ordered the grilled octopus. A flavourful spice from piquillos emulsion was transferred deep into the dish and chimichurri sauce was added on the side to compliment the depth of the flavour profiles. There is an extensive wine list here, with a sommelier on hand available to help guide you through the best parings.
A luxury shopping experience at Bucherer
Bucherer, founded in 1888, has one of the most distinguished traditions in Europe’s watch and jewellery industry. Over the last 130 years, family-owned Bucherer has established an exclusive reputation with its range of exquisite and prize-winning jewellery creations. Its boutiques also offer the company’s international clientele a wide range of luxury watches from renowned brands.
With 17 stores in Switzerland, we entered the luxury world of luxury retail in Geneva. Our host, Riccardo, talked us through the luxury experience of shopping in stores of this calibre and the fine attention to detail needed when curating this kind of shopping experience. The mission is to create a relaxed, inviting atmosphere, bringing Bucherer’s commitment to exceptional hospitality to life in an intimate and personalised way.
Bucherer has created this special universe to give customers a unique shopping experience. You’ll get a chance to browse through the large selection of luxury watches carried within the store by brands such as Carl F. Bucherer, Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Blancpain, Breguet, Chopard, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Tudor.
Lunch at Cottage Café
Tucked on a grassy patch near the Brunswick monument on the right bank of Lake Geneva, the leafy terrace looking onto the monument and the lake is a peaceful spot to enjoy one of their specialty salads at Cottage Café. For those who want to take a break from the city’s chaos and noise, this spot offers a secluded terrace with a beautifully set of wooden tables, chairs, and umbrellas. We ordered the vegetable lasagne made from butternut, spinach, ricotta, gruyere, tomato sauce, rucola, and basil, which is then topped with a generous sprinkle of fresh basil leaves and Parmesan cheese— a warm and hearty dish made using local ingredients.
Distilling our own Swiss gin with LVX Spirits
Did you know you could experience Genevan vodka and gin? This fun workshop takes place in a distillation lab in one of the best bars in Geneva, where all LVX Spirits are born. Individual copper stills greeted us and we were guided through the whole process.
We started our session with a talk about Swiss gin and its history, then we moved on to exploring a whole range of botanicals, designing the recipe and preparing the ingredients to create our own gin, adding up to 15 different types of botanicals to our formula, carefully weighing each botanical to its recommended servings. Once ingredients have been selected, you’ll get to watch your gin come to life in LVX Spirit’s individual copper stills, creating your own bespoke label and taking home our precious (70cl) bottles of gin! Each session is about 2 hours long and is limited to 4 people.
In a nutshell
Geneva is one of the most unique and safest cities in the world and is a must-visit for so many reasons. From luxury hotels, museums, gastronomic experiences, mountains of chocolate, and shopping, Geneva embodies Switzerland. Surrounded by the alps and a beautiful landscape, Geneva is the destination to escape reality and enjoy the utopia that truly has it all—Swiss style.
Flights from London to Geneva start from £46 return, with direct flights available with EasyJet, British Airways and SWISS.
To discover more, visit: geneve.com
For Choco Pass, visit: geneve.com
For Geneva The Resort City, visit: geneve.com
All imagery courtesy of Geneva Tourism.
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Three helpful tips for visiting Geneva
- Sundays – All shops including pharmacies and supermarkets are closed on Sundays (apart from shops at the airport and the train station) so be sure to plan ahead if you need to buy things.
- If you are staying in a hotel rather than an Airbnb, your hotel will provide you with a FREE transport card. It includes free travel on buses, boats, trams, etc. That alone makes staying in a hotel in Geneva worth it.
- Every morning, the Jet d’Eau starts at 10 a.m. (9 a.m. in summer), and it shuts down again between 10:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. The Jet d’Eau doesn’t run in strong winds and poor weather.