The most important thing to know about the hotel star system is that it is NOT a review system—it’s a checklist of criteria. It’s possible to have a bad experience in a 5-star hotel and a delightful experience in a 3-star hotel. It all comes down to what’s most important to you.
Here’s what you need to know about 3-star hotels in Switzerland:
They are often family-owned and run.
This means you’ll likely interact with the owners of the hotel—those that are most invested in you enjoying your stay. They take great pride in making your visit as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. The families have often been there for generations, so if you’re looking for a great hike or exceptional dining experience, they know it all.
They may not be at the desk 24/7, but someone will always be able to help.
The reception is equired to be open only 14 hours a day, but there is always someone available in case of emergency.
Wi-Fi in rooms and lobby.
very 3-star hotel in Switzerland is required to have Wi-Fi/Broadband available in each room as well as the lobby. The quality varies–more remote hotels often have weaker signals, but it’s always enough to send a quick email to friends and family.
All rooms will have a bathroom with a shower or bathtub.
You’ll have your privacy at a 3-star hotel. You won’t have to worry about waiting in line for bathroom if you book 3-star.
They may not have an elevator.
If accessibility is an issue, double check the hotel website to make sure there is an elevator. If you’re not able to lug your bags up the stairs, there’s some good news:
Luggage service on demand.
So, if you need help with your bags, let the front desk know and they’ll have someone bring them to your room.
Air conditioning is rare.
For most Alpine hotels, their version of air conditioning is “opening the window”. Many are located at high elevations, so it may get warm in the room during the day, but in the evening, it cools down to just the right temperature to get some rest for the day ahead. There is always heating in the room if it gets too cold.
Within the 3-star category, there are 3 sub-categories:
Garni, Basic, and Superior. Garni is a classification for hotels that only offer breakfast (most hotels in Switzerland operate full-service restaurants). Basic is the most common and must meet the standard criteria. Superior designates a “best-in-class” of each star category. Superiors are rare, but clearly branded on the hotel website.
The hotel star system in Switzerland reflects expected comfort—not your overall experience. 3-star hotels in the Alps can feel like a home away from home, but they aren’t dripping in luxury. The broad criteria for a 3-star hotel is “elevated comfort”—to go above your needs and give you a sense of belonging.
If quick access to the mountains is more important than 24-room service, if stairs are part of your elevation training, or if the size of your room doesn’t define the size of your experience—an authentically Swiss 3-star hotel might be perfect for you. All the hotels on our tours are hand-picked and beloved. Check out how we choose our favorite hotels (and rooms!) on each of our tours.