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How much hotel pre-booking required?

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new member
Jun 17, 2016 - 5:21 PM


We are planing to travel to Switzerland the last week of June, but the flight from USA will be on a stand by basis. I am wondering how difficult hotel reservations are to come by if we play it a little loose. Generally we like to make a cancel-able reservation for the first and last night "in country" and then see how our rough travel plans go....this leaves us with plenty of opportunity to let travel unfold in a way that takes advantage of weather or activities that we may not have considered. It also means we don't spend a fortune on hotels that we don't stay in if we don't get on the flight.

Our current plan is to purchase an 8-day swiss pass once we've actually made it to ZRH. Our highest priority is to get to Jungfraujoch on a day that is nice enough to take advantage of the time/$ spent to get there....but I dont think we would devote more than 3 days to being in the area hoping for weather to clear if gloomy weather should settle in. Our thought is to do this part of the trip first and stay in Lauterbrunnen or Muerren. Could I just book the first night in advance and be able to stay successive nights, even if we have to move to a different hotel, if desired or necessary?

I think we will also try to enjoy Lake Lucerne/Rigi/Vitznau for 3-4 days, but if things really look gloomy still, we might just bail out to Lake Maggiore/Ascona area. Does anyone have a guess as to what last minute availabilty might be like in those towns?

The other concern I have has to do with altitude adaptation. If you all think its wiser, I would put the Rigi portion first and then Jungfrau afterward with the notion that if meteorologic conditions or last minute hotels are unavailable (full or too expensive) we might have to save that for a different trip. Thoughts?

We understand completely that the weather may be much better than forecasted this far out, but I would like to have an idea of how easy it might be to change plans if the "fun meter" runs out somewhere.

Last question (for now!). If the Swiss Pass is purchased at the ZRH airport, if we have the SBBapp on our iphones, can we put it on that instead of a paper ticket?

Thanks in advance for any insight!

7202 posts
expert &
Jun 17, 2016 - 5:48 PM

Thanks for joining us Isletravel!

I would say there's almost always a way to book last-minute rooms. But it's hard to predict. Smaller popular towns could be a problem if they don't have many hotels. Late June will be better than mid summer. But, you will have to settle for "what's left". Those rooms might be the pricey ones, or not in your favorite hotel. On the other hand, you may come across attractive last minutes offers. Personally I like to know where I will stay the night, so I book in advance. In many cases one can cancel for free until the day of arrival or two days before or so, so there's not really a risk. You can find available rooms and compare the rates of several booking websites through www.hotelscombined.com /Place/Switzerland.htm. You'll find cancellation policies as you click through their offers.

If you need to adapt to the altitude in a controlled manner you should first stay in a lower town, then work your way up (e.g. Lucerne first, Mürren second). That way you will actually spend some time at a particular altitude. Just a peak visit won't help you adapt, but it may help predict how you would feel at even higher places. Most people do not take this into account, but if you know you easily suffer from altitude sickness you can certainly choose this approach.

Make sure you purchase a Swiss Travel Pass. A Swiss Pass is something else and not what you need. If you purchase locally, you will get a piece of paper, not an electronic product. If you purchase online, you will get a PDF you need to print yourself, and you will always have a copy (on your phone, laptop, etc., or a second printout). You won't have to visit a ticket office in that case. Note that processing online orders takes 1 to 3 business days, depending on where you buy. All options are here.

Enjoy your stay!


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