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Hotel etiquette in Switzerland

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Hotel bed in Switzerland

A bed in a Swiss double hotel room.

Become a beloved guest in Swiss hotels

Hotel stays may seem identical wherever you go, but that's certainly not true in all cases. Cultural differences can still cause misunderstandings among guests and staff. Although most Swiss hotels are very much used to welcome guests from all over the world, it helps to know a little bit about local habits and manners. It will make you a beloved guest and your stay will for sure be more pleasant.

Depending on where you are from and where you have traveled before, the below tips may be either very obvious to you, or they may be helpful to adapt to the local culture.

The do's

  • Add all guests to your booking, including children. Do not book for two adults and check-in with an additional child, for example. You're expected to pay for each guest and to use a room with no more than the indicated maximum number of people;
  • if you travel with a pet, check if the hotel accommodates this, and mention the pet while booking. Pets are often not welcome in the hotel restaurant, but there are exceptions;
  • when you first enter your room, read the booklet with the house rules and safety regulations;
  • separate waste if the hotel accommodates this. For example: if available, use separate bins for paper, plastics, etc.;
  • do keep your room tidy. There is no need to thoroughly clean, but don't leave waste on the floor or the balcony, for example. Also keep the bathroom floor dry;
  • it is common for rooms to have an in-room safe. Often it is located in a closet. If there is no safe, you can ask the front desk staff to safely store any valuables;
  • hotels have western style sit toilets only; only use them in a sitting position. Some bathrooms offer a bidet as well, but this is certainly no standard feature like it is in Italy;
  • feel free to ask the hotel to keep your luggage for the rest of the day after you check-out. Most hotels will be able and willing to do so.

The don'ts

  • Don't be noisy, particularly in the early morning and evening. The hotel house rules may mention specific time frames during which silence is expected, e.g. after 10 PM. The basic guideline is that guests in adjacent rooms should not be able to hear you;
  • many hotels offer breakfast in "all you can eat" buffet style. Sometimes dinner is served like that as well. Do not get more food than you will eat. Leftovers are not appreciated. Do feel free to go over to the buffet counter as often as you like though. Also you can certainly ask the staff if something is missing; they may be able to cater to your needs. Do not touch the food at the buffet counter with your hands;
  • don't expect 24 hour catering. Almost all hotels offer breakfast, but not all of them have a full in-house restaurant. If they do have an in-house restaurant, it may not be open all day long. It is common for restaurants to be open for lunch (e.g. 12 to 2 PM) and dinner (e.g. from 6 PM). The front desk staff can reserve a table for you, if necessary;
  • don't "demand" anything if you have a request or complaint. Staff and guests are very much considered as equals. The staff will be polite, but the same is expected from guests. A smile and some patience will work better than making demands. It's all about the tone of voice;
  • generalizing is risky, but Swiss staff generally take their job seriously and may come across as formal or not overly enthusiastic. Don't confuse this with rudeness;
  • you're expected to pay the amount on the bill, and there is no need to tip. Not leaving a tip is perfectly normal. Of course you can tip if you want to; in that case we recommend a small amount.

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