The key to an affordable and relaxing Swiss vacation? Book a holiday apartment (oh, just listen to how British the Frau is sounding lately!).
Bonus #1: You will be able to cook yourself and therefore avoid overpriced fried potatoes (the Frau just went to a restaurant in Wengen and somehow managed to spend over $50 for two plates of fried potatoes and $12 for a vintage 2012 1.5 liter of Coca-cola).
Bonus #2: You will never have to wonder: will the place be clean? Trust the Frau. Your Swiss apartment rental will be so shiny it would give even Mr. Clean a headache.
Bonus #3: You will avoid overpriced Swiss hotels that call themselves "budget" but charge CHF 200 a night and don't even throw in a bar of soap.
Below are four Swiss apartments in four great areas of Switzerland. The Frau has stayed in all of them. All are worthy of a stay, for various reasons, not the least that the Frau saved you the trouble of worrying if the place would be alright.
4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, sleeps 9 (10 is pushing it)
Pluses: centrally located off the main drag, but in a quiet location, huge very un-Swiss refrigerator and freezer (stocked with ice!!), child friendly (two cots provided with no additional cost plus washing machine inside the apartment), comfortable beds, tons of English books, movies, games (place is owned by Brits, hence also the ice). We were allowed to stay past the 10 a.m. check-out time.
Minuses: no Internet connection (could be a plus depending on your crowd. Mine had iPod Touches and were constantly trying unsuccessfully to break into other networks), Sony PlayStation 2 (minus if you are a wife with a small baby who needs attention and Dad plays FIFA Soccer all day).
Third Floor Apartment
3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, sleeps 6
Pluses: Directly on cross-country ski trail, right above tourist office, right across the street from grocery store, short walk from the train, very affordable (for Switzerland), really nice owners who will pick you and your million bags up from the train station if you have small baby and there is 20 feet of snow (and maybe even if there isn’t). We were allowed to stay an extra day since we were snowed out of the town at the beginning of our booking date.
Minuses: Some of the beds were old, the apartment hasn’t been remodeled for awhile (but it kind of adds to its charm), the only grocery store in the town is very pricey (think double the prices of food at Coop/Migros).
2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, sleeps 4
Pluses: Gorgeous views from dining room and balcony—a great place to watch the clouds when it rains for seven days straight. T.V. was broken (could be a minus depending if you like Italian programming). Beautiful garden and grilling area with palm trees and great views (see below, up huge hill).
Minuses: Up a huge hill and out of town. Nearest bus stop is still a pretty good uphill hike to apartment (not recommended when six months pregnant and carrying tons of luggage or groceries!). Locarno buses are more Italian than Swiss (i.e. never on time). Small grocery store nearby has terrible hours. No info about the area in the apartment.
Studio, sleeps 2
Pluses: Unobstructed mountain views, very comfortable fold-away bed, great price for two people, Internet included, cozy, when we booked through the tourist office, we got free lift tickets for the week (this was in the summer), great village with a Coop and easy access to Aletsch Glacier.
Minuses: down a fairly steep hill (not so fun with luggage—or blisters from hiking), small (but it's a studio so to be expected).
Anyone else have some great Swiss holiday apartments to recommend? The Frau will be looking for her next Fereinwohnung soon.