Geneva: The place for a vacation—if money doesn't matter

Geneva.
Allan Baxter | Getty Images
Geneva.

Situated at the foot of Switzerland's Alps and along Lake Geneva lies one of the most luxurious—and pricey—cities in the world.

Famous for being a font of global diplomacy and expensive watches, Geneva continuously ranks among the world's most costly travel destinations, and with good reason. During 2014, the average daily rate (ADR) for luxury European hotels was $866 per night, according to luxury travel company Virtuoso. For Switzerland, it was $929 per night.

Switzerland's economy draws in more than 34 billion Swiss francs ($36 billion) annually from tourism, according to the Swiss Federal Statistics Office, with Geneva as its centerpiece. The city has a well-earned reputation as a hub for all things cosmopolitan and international, and it is estimated that more than 40 percent of Geneva's population comes from other countries. For lovers of the finer things in life, the city should be near the top of any list of potential summer getaways.


Naturally, it won't be cheap. A study by Hotels.com, which used a "club sandwich index" that recalls The Economist's"Big Mac" Index that measures purchasing power across economies, shows that Geneva is the most expensive city for a regular club sandwich. The quirky study revealed that the average such sandwich costs a whopping 20 francs (the equivalent of about $21).

The 12-bedroom suite

Provided that money is no object, finding a suitably grand living arrangement won't be a problem.

The Hotel President Wilson—part of the Starwood family of hotels—boasts the most expensive room in all of Switzerland, and indeed the world. The 12-bedroom, 12-bathroom Royal Penthouse Suite covers an impressive 18,000 square feet (the entire eighth floor of the hotel).

If you stay in this grand "room," you can expect a hefty list of amenities and features.

"Sweeping views of the lake, a private gym, a Steinway piano and probably anything else a guest could desire," said Misty Belles, director of global public relations at Virtuoso. "It also has enhanced security measures such as bulletproof glass and a private elevator."

It doesn't come as a surprise, then, that the Royal Penthouse Suite is attached to a price tag of at least $64,000 and tops out at $83,000 a night—making it the most expensive suite in the world.

High-priced style

There is a plethora of transportation possibilities in Geneva, but vacationers wanting only the best can get around in high-priced style.

Helicopters, for example, can cost anywhere from 3,500 francs to 9,500 francs one way, according to Private Fly, based on the size of the vehicle. Meanwhile, separate from Geneva's distinctive form of air taxi, is private jet service that costs upward of $5,000—more expensive than usual given high demand of European commercial travel.

Switzerland is also home to some of the most decadent and indulgent foods, so Geneva tourists can expect the same. The city offers a rich variety of highly rated restaurants visited by the local high society.

Auberge du Lion d'Or—which one TripAdvisor reviewer raved about as "probably the best French Restaurant in Geneva"—is especially popular because of its exotic cuisine and its scenic lakeside venue. As is the case in Geneva, a visit to this spot won't come cheap: the Michelin Guide says lunch alone will set diners back 78 francs.

Elsewhere, brasserie-style restaurant Les Armures is also known widely for its rustic charm and classic Swiss specialties. The establishment was even picked by former President Bill Clinton during his visit to the city.