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My review of the InterContinental Geneva hotel

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This is my review of the InterContinental Geneva hotel.

Back in May I wrote about a fantastic competition organised by the Geneva Tourist Board.  It was giving away 1,000 nights over the Summer in three, four and five star hotels across the city to UK residents, breakfast included.

A lot of Head for Points readers were winners, including myself.  I was very restricted on dates because of our holidays and the school restart this week and the best option available was the InterContinental Geneva which I am reviewing today.

With breakfast included and a Reward Flight Saver Avios flight booked, I felt I could beat off the impact of the astonishingly strong Swiss Franc.

Location, location, location

The InterContinental Geneva hasn’t got it.  Sorry.  Let’s get that out of the way first.

From the railway station (remember to get your free train ticket at the airport from the vending machine in the luggage hall – a very generous offer for visitors) it was only a few seconds walk down to the lake.  Thursday was an astonishingly lovely September day with 29 degree sunshine:

InterContinental Geneva review

Lined up, side by side down the quayside, were some exceptional hotels – the Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Hotel de la Paix, Kempinski, President Wilson etc – with direct lake views.  One mile away, up a hill in a commercial area by the United Nations, is the InterContinental!

If you stay here you need to accept that you are unlikely to be popping back to the hotel during the day.  You also need to accept that you are outside the main tourist area.  If you want a romantic weekend with your partner, you are substantially better off in the Four Seasons on the lake.

If you arrive in the afternoon and want to head straight to the hotel, forget the airport train.  The Number 5 bus runs from the airport and stops directly outside the hotel.  The stop is even called ‘InterContinental’ and will be shown on the digital displays inside the bus.

You can get a bus from outside the hotel to the railway station or back to the airport – reception will give you a free travel ticket.

InterContinental Geneva

The InterContinental Geneva is not a pretty hotel although I have seen far worse buildings from that period – it looks late 60s / early 70s.

A few years the hotel had a massive renovation to bring it into the 21st century.  This has only been partially successful.

InterContinental Geneva review exterior

Before I go on, though, I want to show you the one reason why you may want to stay here – the amazing outdoor swimming pool:

InterContinental Geneva review

It is, I think, the biggest swimming pool I have ever seen at a European city hotel.  I was lucky to be there on a swelteringly hot September day.  As well as the pool, which slopes away sharply but is kiddy-friendly shallow at one side, there is a pool bar (£10 for a bottle of beer!).  On a grassed area behind the pool – but blocked from it by some bushes – are another 50 or so sun loungers.  There are probably 75 sun loungers in total which is generous.

My room at InterContinental Geneva

Remi, who checked me in, was fully on the ball.  The hotel respected my Ambassador benefits, including late check-out, which was good of them because I obviously hadn’t booked direct.  My details were not in the booking but, when they saw my card, my allocated room was changed to a larger one with a view of the lake.

In practical terms, there was nothing to complain about.  Lots of space, a coffee machine (and I was brought a jug of fresh milk on request), a small dressing area, a desk and a sofa.  The problem is that it was all a bit, well, beige:

InterContinental Geneva review room

and

InterContinental Geneva review

….. except for the bathroom, where the loo and bath were fuscia.  It reminded me of what my parents had during the 1970s and was a little scary to see:

InterContinental Geneva review bathroom

Weirdly, I could not – for the life of me – work out how to turn the shower on.  It was an attachment to the bath taps, not stand alone.  Despite having stayed in probably 300 hotels in my life, I could not figure this out, so I was forced to have a bath instead!  Toiletries were the standard InterContinental Agraria brand.

This is the view from my window, which lets you see where the lake is:

InterContinental Geneva review view

Wi-fi was free and very good.  The signal never dropped at any point.

There was nothing to complain about in my room but no ‘wow’ factor either, nothing to convince you that it is a good idea to be here instead of by the lake.

Gym and spa at InterContinental Geneva

I am not a gym person but this one looked pretty big and was flooded with light:

InterContinental Geneva review gym

There is also a Clarins-branded spa with a sauna.

The lobby

The public areas of InterContinental Geneva are very impressive.  There are vast amounts of space to sit around and watch the world go by.

InterContinental Geneva review lobby

and

InterContinental Geneva review lobby

As well as this clubby bar, complete with Chesterfield armchairs.  The club sandwich I had in the bar for dinner set me back £25 at the current exchange rate.

InterContinental Geneva review bar

Breakfast at InterContinental Geneva

….. is served in Woods, the restaurant.

This is a very classy affair.  I strongly recommend booking a room with breakfast included if booking for cash.  You are likely to save money (It is CHF 46 – £35 – per person if paid on the day), there are few potential alternatives nearby and it is a very pleasant experience.

Orange juice is freshly squeezed and comes in individual glass jugs, as does the milk.  As well as a wide ranging buffet (the photo below only shows a small part of it) you can order additional items.

InterContinental Geneva review restaurant

The breakfast room was calm and fairly empty when I was there.  There is even an outdoor seating area:

InterContinental Geneva review restaurant

Conclusion

I really enjoyed my night here because of the exceptionally good weather.  I visited the pool on both days and it was the first time all summer I had been able to swim by myself without a small child literally on my back.  I also got free breakfast so my food costs were modest and the walk up the hill from the city centre was OK in the sun.

If you are in Geneva on business and need to be in the UN area or are happy to pay for taxis, this is a good place to come.  I would happily stay here again on that basis.

For a tourist, though, it is tricky.  The pool – the real redeeming feature at the InterContinental Geneva – is only open between May and September.  Without the pool, I don’t feel that the quality of the rooms is high enough to switch from a hotel by the lake which gives you the full Geneva experience.  I did enjoy the breakfast and the staff throughout were fantastic.

If you are redeeming IHG Rewards Club points, you will get excellent value for them here because Geneva is so expensive.  For a random date in October the hotel was 45,000 points or £275 (CHF 354) which means you are getting 0.6p per point.  Be aware that breakfast will be a hit in the pocket and I didn’t see any obvious alternatives.

It is also a decent choice if redeeming an InterContinental Ambassador ‘free weekend night’ voucher.  The cash saving will make the bus journey up and down the hill worthwhile.

The InterContinental Geneva website is here if you want to find out more.


IHG Rewards Club update – December 2020:

Get bonus points: IHG’s current promotion is ‘2x’, which runs until 15th December 2020. You can learn more in our article here. You can register here using promo code 44480.

New to IHG Rewards Club?  Read our two-part overview of IHG Rewards Club here and here and our article on expiry rules here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG Rewards Club points, you can buy them here.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (25)

  • Danksy says:

    Good review Rob,

    Me and the Mrs stayed there for two nights in August and had a great time. Your comment on the price of breakfast is a little off the mark… they didn’t have us down as having breakfast included on the breakfast list and there was 92CHF charged to the room (waived even before we checked out!)

    The location is a little bit of a stumbling block, but we had a nice walk through the botanical gardens to the shore of the lake and covered about 7 miles in one day!

    • Rob says:

      Thanks, updated the breakfast price.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      c£36 per person for breakfast

      what more motivation do you need to go out and find a local cafe etc which doesn’t restrict you on timing either. Wonder what hotels think when setting prices like these

      • Rob says:

        What you forget is that the cafe will be extortionate as well. It cost me £25 for a chicken dish in a street cafe downtown for lunch on Thursday, plus another £9 for a glass of house wine and whatever the coffee cost on top.

      • Roger* says:

        ‘Wonder what hotels think when setting prices like these’ Seriously?

        Well, they don’t set prices in pounds, that’s for sure. They use their own currency, and if the market accepts the prices, they’re quids in, er, francs in.

        For longer than I care to remember, the value of the Swiss franc has gone in one direction and the value of the pound in the other. Only 10 years ago, 1 GBP was worth about 2.50 CHF, almost double today’s rate. (Sadly, I can remember much higher rates. 🙁 ) If the hotel priced its services at 10-year-old rates, they would be more comfortable (to you). But of course, the hotel incurs costs in today’s real world and would make an almighty loss.

        Whenever I’ve been at the IC Geneva, much of the clientele has come from the Middle East, Russia and other exotic places. Presumably they are happy to pay the prices.

        • John says:

          I made a good decision to buy a bucketload of CHF when it was 1.8 per £.

          Most prices in Switzerland seem reasonable to me. It was the UK that was expensive when I moved to London permanently as it took 2 USD to get 1 quid.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Can’t comment on the local economics but stronger CHF = cheaper imports which in turn should = fall in prices, doesn’t seem the case here

  • Robert says:

    I’ve been staying 1-2 nights at the IC Geneva every year for the past 5 years, always on points.
    When it was 35,000 it was amazing value, now at 45,000 it depends a lot on the rate at the time, but they tend to be a minimum of £350 and more depending on how close to my stay I book.

    I’ve never tried the pool as I’ve always stayed out of season, but always enjoyed the cosy lobby (nice fireplace in the winter), great drinks at the bar (one of the best rusty nails I’ve had…), good service, and I’ve always been upgraded to a nice room (in advance of my stay) as an Ambassador.
    In fact on my last stay I was upgraded to a nice suite (rate was well over £1000 for it) despite staying on points.

    As for the breakfast, well I think it has to be one of the nicest presented breakfasts I have seen in any hotel to be honest, and more than enough verity to choose from (anything not on the buffet, like freshly made eggs Benedict etc can be ordered at no extra charge).

  • James Foreman says:

    I stayed here with my wife for our wedding anaversary on points and free night from my credit card.

    Its a nice hotel and we got a free room upgrade and a small bottle for champagne but I could not justify the prices, other than one cocktail we did not spend anything there, I would stay again though and the pool did look fantastic as did the public areas.

    If you want a cheep meal turn right out of the main doors and just past the garage on the left side of the road is a restaurant serving chicken and a few other things, if your not looking for fine dinning its an enjoyable meal. For breakfast the garage has a small cafe with nice coffee and pastries.

    At the airport get the free ticket for travel to your hotel, the hotel will extend this for your stay and all the busses, train, trams and water taxies are included.

  • Catherine says:

    That location definitely isn’t the best, but the pool looks awesome! I recently stayed at Le Richemond, which is right on the lake and part of the Dorchester Collection, and that place really is amazing. I was in the Ambassador Suite and my entire experience there was just out of this world. The service was incredible, the breakfast was on point, and the view of the lake was so beautiful. Sadly though it isn’t the best choice for collecting points! Highly recommend it though, especially to business travellers as it did feel very ‘business’ like and the location was brilliant for the city.