Hi - We will be spending a couple of nights in each city in late June or early July. I know Switzerland is very expensive. Can you suggest a central place to stay that is relatively less expensive? We may have a car when in Luzerne after flying into Zurich. Thanks for help! Julia in Vermont
Switzerland IS expensive, but you might have a look at Hotel Stern in Lucerne and Hotel Walhalla in Zürich. Both are in convenient locations, and I've found both to be very comfortable. Having a car in both cities will be a darn nuisance, and I'm not sure if either place offers parking (which is likely also to be expensive).
We had a nice stay at the Hotel Belvoir in the Zurich exurb of Rüschlikon. Half hour to Zurich by bus, running every 30 minutes. About $220/double, which is low for Switzerland.
Dis-recommend car. Look into regional train pass, or even just daily local train/bus pass.
If you have flexibility on locations, Booking.com is your best friend: try central-ish location, put a large radius on the Advanced Search options, choose the maximum prices and then take a look at what your options are.
You may want to check into airbnb...
I agree with Nicole on Airbnb. Depending on how many people are on your trip, it may be cheaper to get an apartment rather than a hotel. Are you planning on staying in Lucerne or are you using the car to travel from there? If you are sticking mainly to Lucerne/Mount Rigi/Mount Pilatus, I don't know that you would need a car - you could do it all by public transport (train, ferry, bus, etc).
You definitely DON'T want a car. It's just an expensive boat anchor. Everything is well connected by train, bus, boat, cogwheel, gondola and connections are timed perfectly.
We rented a car the whole time we were in Switzerland and never had any issues. Check out Hotel Bellevue. It was resonably priced, good breakfast, amazing views and had free parking. It was also close enough to walk or bike into town (they had free bikes you could borrow.) We absolutely loved the place.
Thanks for all your replies. We are staying in Zurich one night after arrival in Europe and one night before departure on early flight. So now I guess we'll just try to stay near airport. We are renting a car because we are driving on to the Italian lakes and spending most of our time there. Only 2 nights in Lucerne, after Italy. Julia
Do you want to see Zurich when you arrive, Julia, or are you staying there the first night for the convenience? If you want to see Zurich - I would pay to stay in the city proper rather than the airport. If it's more of a convenience, I would take the train directly from the Zurich Airport to Luzern. On the :47 of each hour (through 8:47pm) there is an IR train that takes 1h02m to go from the airport directly to Luzern.
I would take the train from Zurich and then pick up a car after Luzern to drive to Italy. You won't need it for two nights in Luzern so (to me) there doesn't seem to be a point in paying to rent it in Zurich and park it for two nights.
Also, it seems you have already bought your ticket but most people on these boards recommend considering an open-jaw flight, so I wanted to mention it. If you are going to the Italian lake district after Zurich, it may have been better to book a flight into Zurich and out of Milan, depending on the cost. On the other hand, if you're renting a car in Switzerland it is most likely cheaper to return it in Switzerland rather than Italy, so that will be a benefit of back-tracking to Zurich.
What time is your flight in the morning? You can leave Zurich HB at 5:02am and arrive at the airport 5:14, so if that's early enough for you then you could stay in the city center before you head back to Vermont.
I agree with Devon about staying in town when you arrive in Zurich. It's an easy train trip with clear signs. We had to ask directions to walk to our hotel when we arrived at the main train station but there was a TI location and it was no problem. We had a VERY early flight departing Zurich so stayed near the airport, but it was definitely uninteresting - just a bed.
And there are many places to stay in Lucerne that are close to what you want to see and are an easy walk from the train. We also stayed at the Hotel Goldener Stern Luzern and enjoyed it. It was on the less expensive side but still very accessible. When possible, I wandered through Google street view and it was so easy to see where to head so that upon arrival it really wasn't hard. :) Have fun!
Don't waste your time at an airport hotel. The train runs directly into Zurich Airport and will take you into downtown Zurich in about 15 minutes. You can also travel on to Lucerne if you don't necessarily have to see Zurich. Many people actually spend their first or last nights in Lucerne because it's just so simple to get to the Zurich airport from there.
Again...the American mindset traps us into thinking "must stay at airport" and "must have rental car" because we have very little knowledge of what successful public transportation actually looks like. And nobody does successful public transportation better than the Swiss!
Thanks for all your help. We are hoping to stay in Zurich the night of our arrival mainly because my husband is 75 and it will be a LONG trip from Vermont to Boston to London to Zurich so we'd just like to crash the first night. However, I'd enjoy seeing a tiny bit of the city the next day before picking up the car at Zurich airport and heading south. As for our last night (when I hope to find something near airport), I signed up to drop the car off the afternoon before we fly out so as not to have any last minute problems with the rental agency the morning of our flight. Therefore I'm looking for something within easy reach of the airport. won't plan to go into Zurich that day. Any additional ideas will be appreciated. Julia
Again, thanks for your suggestions. We have booked with a downtown airbnb host for the first night and for the last night before flying out another airbnb host who is in a suburb not far from airport. I love this forum! julia