Switzerland: Q & A

The Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered
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Q.We would like to visit Switzerland this summer but have not yet booked any accommodation. I'm worried that hotels in Switzerland will be very expensive. As a family, we are on a limited budget so I was wondering if there were any alternatives.

Q. We would like to visit Switzerland this summer but have not yet booked any accommodation. I'm worried that hotels in Switzerland will be very expensive. As a family, we are on a limited budget so I was wondering if there were any alternatives.

T Moore, Guildford

A. Before I move on to the numerous other possibilities you can explore, I should just say that Switzerland actually has a wide selection of good-value hotel accommodation to suit every budget. As an example, travelling on 24 June, Inghams (020-8780 4433, www.inghams.co.uk) is offering seven nights staying at the comfortable Hotel Walliserhof in Saas-Fee, Vallais, for £1,552.80 for a family of three on a half-board basis. The price includes return flights, rail transfers, free lunch packs and a full day's guided walk.

But of course there are plenty of other alternatives to consider as well. If your family would like an insight into every day country life in Switzerland, you might consider staying on a farm. This is an affordable option, with the added bonus that your children will, in many cases, be able to help feed the animals and see how they are cared for. Swiss Holiday Farms (00 41 31 329 6633, www.bauernhof-ferien.ch) offers a large variety of properties all over Switzerland. For example, you could stay on a 230-year-old farmhouse owned by the Koller Stocker family, home to cattle, goats, rabbits, dogs and hens and situated in a picturesque region 18km from Lucerne. The property is 4km from a lake and also has swimming, cycling and tennis nearby. In the high season B&B costs SFr30 (£12.50) for adults and SFr18 (£7.50) for children per night.

Camping is another affordable alternative. Switzerland has hundreds of campsites of varying size in spectacular locations ranging from rolling pasture to dramatic vistas of craggy Alpine peaks.

Both www.camping.ch and www.swisscamps.ch have extensive campsite listings, with comprehensive guides of the facilities. Generally speaking it is best to book directly with the campsite and of course prices will vary, but expect to pay around £7.50 per adult, £3 per child and £7.50 per tent. The Swiss Travel Centre (00800 100 200 30) can send camping guides to all the different regions of the country free of charge. If you would rather book your holiday as a package, Canvas Holidays (01383 629 000, www.canvasholidays.co.uk) arranges camping holidays in several locations. As a guide, a 12-night holiday staying in the Alpine town of Susten near Zermatt costs a total of £430 for family of two adults and up to four children in June. The price includes return midweek Dover/Calais ferry crossing and accommodation in a fully equipped tent.

For something more unusual, there are several Indian style villages situated in picturesque pastureland near the town of Fribourg, offering overnight accommodation in wigwams. For further information contact the Fribourg Tourist office on (00 41 26 321 3175).

Sleeping in the Straw (00 41 21 619 4400, www.aventure-sur-la-paille.ch) is another novel idea, where guests looking for that true country experience can sleep in a barn on beds of hay and drift away to the sounds of lowing cattle. Prices start from £6 per adult and £4 per child.

If staying in an apartment appeals, Interhome (00 41 1 497 27 77, www.relax-switzerland.com) offers a choice of over 20,000 homes throughout the country. Casa Anna is pretty stone house situated on the edge of a forest near Agrone in Ticino. The property can accommodate up to five people and costs £395 per week throughout June.

Inghams also offers a holiday for a family of four staying at the Residence Bernerhof, a two-room apartment in the village of Wengen in the Bernese Oberland for £1,472 per week. The price includes all flights, accommodation and transfers. For further information and reservations for all the accommodation mentioned above, contact the Switzerland Travel Centre (00800 100 200 30) or visit www.MySwitzerland.com.

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