InterContinental Geneva has the views

I have always wondered why places are called different names in different languages? I wanted to title this piece InterContinental Geneve, like the sign reads on the hotel wall. Since I write primarily for an American audience, I figured I better stick with the better known spelling Geneva.

IC Geneve sign-1

Countries and cities with different names in different languages has bothered me since I was 9 years old and my family moved to Germany. We would travel to München frequently, but it is called Munich for Americans.

First Impression of InterContinental Geneva

I’d traveled on a train for six hours from Clermont-Ferrand, France, read a bit of an Anne Rice book The Mummy, kissed a French girl in Lyon and I was ready to walk around Geneva and get blood flowing through my legs.

I picked up a map of Geneva at the train station information center, asked the agent to mark the location of the InterContinental Geneva on the map and started on my way pulling two roller bags. The Information Desk woman told me it was a 15 minute bus ride, but was not sure how many kilometers. I estimated about three km by the map and started out across the street and down the block. I was kind of disappointed to see the hotel location was in the direction away from the lake.

Geneva train station

A local street woman hassled me in French as I snapped this photo of the Geneva train station, and when I said ‘English’ she spat out something about Angleterre and Londres. Why was she not saying ‘England’ and ‘London’? That geographical anomaly perplexes me. As far as I know, my home places of California and Monterey are pronounced the same way worldwide, even if some languages spell it ‘Kalifornia’.

The ability to read a map is a great skill to possess. I wonder whether map reading is being enhanced or being lost by smartphones? I enjoy the phone talking to me with road directions when I am driving, but the challenge of looking at a piece of paper and putting that into the perspective of the 3-D space of a city around you is a useful skill to master. Every few blocks in Geneva I stopped, checked street corner names and adjusted my direction accordingly. As it turned out, most of what I saw of Geneva at street level was during my walk to the InterContinental Hotel.

Geneva church

Geneva church by city train station.

The weather forecast 36 hours before I arrived in Geneva was for mostly sunny weather, but the skies were totally cloud covered with 90% rain probability forecast by the time I arrived.

Geneva Fall

The city air was crisp and it felt like the fall season was under way. Some trees had changed color and the grass in the city park was covered with fallen leaves in some areas.

Geneva park pool

The children’s wading pool in the city park was drained and a chain link fence barrier surrounded the pool perimeter. Apparently, summer had ended in Geneva by the first days of October.

I have only been to Geneva, Switzerland once before, for an afternoon in 1975 when I was a 15-year old teenager on a road trip to Barcelona with my family. My only memory of the city was a fountain in the lake seen from a walk, or maybe it was a drive-by in our car by the lakeside. That fountain is something I saw again, briefly from a spot near the Geneva train station when I was the closest to the lake I would be during my stay this trip. The walk to the Intercontinental Geneva took me away from the lake and from the effort to pull my luggage along the streets, I was walking to a higher elevation as I walked farther from the lake.

First impression of IC Geneve underwhelmed me

It seemed odd to me when I booked InterContinental Geneva that the hotel was only 35,000 IHG Rewards Club points. Switzerland is generally considered the most expensive place in the world, or damn near. So why was IC Geneve 15,000 points less than the top tier hotels at 50,000 points?

When I saw the hotel, my first impression was this is the ugliest InterContinental Hotel I have ever seen.

IC Geneva-2

InterContinental Geneve

The doorman offered to take my luggage, but I’d wheeled it this far to the hotel, so another 30 meters to the front desk was not going to kill me. By the way, it took me perhaps 40 minutes to walk to the hotel from the train station, including photo and map stops. If I had known the streets, and walked a more direct route, I think I could have walked to the hotel from the train station in about 25 to 30 minutes.

IC Geneva driveway   IC Geneva entrance

The walk from the Geneva train station to the hotel was the only exercise I got in Geneva.

IC Geneva lobby-1

The lobby impressed me and provided the feeling one expects when walking into an InterContinental Hotel. What this photo does not show is the doors beside the fireplace were open when I arrived and that is the hotel bar area.

IC Geneva restaurant

InterContinental Geneva main restaurant, closed Saturdays (the day I arrived).

Check-In at InterContinental Geneva

IC Geneva Reception

InterContinental Geneva reception desk back wall art.

A lovely woman named Gwendolyne checked me in and kept wowing me with the amenities as an IHG Rewards Club Platinum member. I was given a drink coupon for the bar, but best of all was a one day transportation pass good for city trams, buses and boats around Geneva.

My big concern was how to get to Geneva Airport from the hotel? That was to be the least of my concerns with the airport bus stop located across the street from the hotel at a #5 bus stop called “InterContinental”. The bus runs frequently, every 15 to 20 minutes, even on weekends, and the airport is only a few miles away and about a 15 minute bus ride.

IC bus stop-1   IC bus stop view

Airport Bus #5 stops across the street from InterContinental Geneva hotel. View of hotel from bus stop.

The hotel has numbered floors to 18 with no floor 13. My room was floor 9. Gwendolyne said the room offered a partial lake view.

IC Geneva 915

The room number was on a plaque with 915, 916 and 917. It took me a moment to spot the correct door with the tiny number 915. These rooms all connect if you want extra rooms.

IC 915 bed   IC 915 desk-tv

IC 915 reverse view   IC 915 Nespresso

I always consider books to be a fine feature for a hotel room. On the shelf above the TV were three books. Jane Eyre, that is a classic read.

But Narcotics Anonymous? 

Had someone from the hotel read my “I am on drugs” Loyalty Traveler confessional: AAdvantage ExPlat fast-track diary Day 22 (September 24, 2015).

IC 915 Narcotics

Don’t worry, I am not regularly on narcotics. That was a doctor’s prescription that I used one time two weeks ago in the case where I needed the hammer to break the glass for emergency sleep aid. It has taken me a lot of years to learn how to regulate my brain. Pills are not part of my diet. And as far as I know, beer is still not categorized as a narcotic. And the effects of beer do not last nearly as long as those little pills that wiped me out for three days before my current trip to Europe.


The only complaint I have about my IC Geneva hotel stay is the water temperature in the shower would alternate from comfortable warm to unbearably hot. I took three showers and the temperature shifts happened every time.

IC sink   IC Shower

IC tub   IC bathroom

IC bath amentities   Ic bathrobes

Bottom line is the room was perfectly comfortable and a great place for me to hole up and rest before heading to Copenhagen, Denmark.

I arrived in the room, showered, changed clothes, and planned to hit the town for photo opportunities and check out the lake I could see from the 9th floor hotel room window.

IC Geneva view   IC Geneva view-2-sm

An hour after arriving at the hotel the rain was falling and it was falling hard. The photos above were the two I snapped before the rain storm.

The rain started in the afternoon, continued into the evening and much of the night. I never left the hotel again until I caught the bus to the airport.

Clarins Spa, Fitness Center and Pool

IC Clarins Spa   IC Fitness-1

IC fitness-2   IC fitness-3

One of the features I like about fitness centers is there are often apples and that was the case at InterContinental Geneva. A hamburger at the hotel was 35 CHF, or about $36. I don’t know if there is tax on that amount. Breakfast eggs were something like $30. I had bread and granola from France and an apple from the hotel.

The prices on restaurant menus I checked out on my walk from the train station to the hotel showed average prices higher than London, Copenhagen or even Oslo, now that the Norwegian currency has devalued significantly in 2015.

IC Pool

InterContinental Geneva Outdoor Pool.

The French language phrase I learned from this post-summer trip to France and Switzerland is “la saison est terminée”.

Bottom line is I enjoyed my stay at InterContinental Geneva. The rain kept me hanging out in the room for my entire stay, but it was a nice room to hang out in. I’d like to get back to Geneva. The city is a doorway to the Alps and that is a mountain high I want to experience again some day.

Geneva from air

Geneva, Switzerland from air. There is that Lake Geneva fountain I remember from 40 years ago.

IHG Rewards Club price was 35,000 points for a standard reward night. There was an additional 9.50 CHF ($9.78 USD) nightly room tax. The published room rate at the time of booking was 306 CHF ($315 USD).

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. My wife and I stayed there last year. We were only there for one night on a free rewards stay. However they upgraded us to an incredible suite, with an even more incredible bath, because of our platinum status. The free transportation pass really saves this great hotel and makes it effortless to enjoy the city from it’s location.

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