Farm-stays, B&Bs and private rooms in Switzerland
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Schlaf im Stroh, Aventure sur la paille, or Sleeping in the Hay, is a great way to get a feel for countryside life while guaranteeing accommodation at a fixed price wherever you are. Hundreds of farming families from every canton in the country (bar Glarus) have collaborated in the scheme, which runs from May to October only, each offering 10–15 places to sleep on straw in a barn (but as fresh and pristine a barn as you could wish for), sometimes also offering a handful of bed spaces within the farmhouse, and occasionally a place to pitch a tent or two if you prefer. An overnight stay costs a flat Fr.18 including breakfast (Fr.11 for under-12s) at all farms. You must bring your own sleeping bag if you want to sleep on straw, and a shower – available at most farms – costs Fr.2 per person. Your host family can also offer a range of services, including putting together a picnic (Fr.9), serving a home-cooked dinner for Fr.18, providing horses (Fr.21–26 per day), renting bikes, and offering guided tours of the countryside around and about. A booklet giving details of every farm in the scheme, including whether the family speaks English or not, is available from Cécile Sciboz, Le Pratzet, CH-1733 Treyvaux (include a C5-sized SAE), but all bookings must be made directly with the farm or farms you choose. You can get more information at www.agri.ch/stroh and from the organizer Christian Stähli-Fehr, Bois du Fey, CH-1430 Orges (024/445 16 31).

A slightly less raw option for farm-stays are the 250 Swiss Holiday Farms, which offer full-blown apartments and rooms for daily or weekly rent on the farm, year-round. You can get a catalogue from Schweizer Reisekasse (Reka), Neuengasse 15, CH-3001 Bern (031/329 66 33, fax 329 66 01, www.reka.ch).

Bed and breakfasts, where you normally lodge in a room in someone’s private house or farmhouse, are something of an innovation in Switzerland, but are becoming steadily more popular. Many tourist offices can give you details of B&Bs in their area, or you can request an excellent illustrated catalogue of B&Bs all over the country from Rolf Suter, Bernstrasse 6, CH-3067 Boll (% & fax 031/839 74 84, www.homestay.ch). Prices can vary quite a bit, depending on the house and the location, but a rough average is a bargain Fr.30–40 per person. You may also come across signs in rural and Alpine resort areas offering rooms in private houses (Zimmer frei, chambres à louer, affitasi camere). Again, these aren’t as widespread as in other parts of Europe, but still can be less expensive, and much more welcoming, than hostel accommodation.

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