As the best luxury hotel in Lisbon, staying at theFour Seasons Lisbonwas a one-of-a-kind experience. I’ve interned at Four Seasons Beverly Hills in sales/marketing & Four Seasons Mumbai as concierge, but it was 8 years later that I would be able to experience FS as a guest. Read on for my review of the 5-star Four Seasons Lisbon hotel.
Once you know you’re moving to Switzerland to start your new life, the next biggest task is to find a Swiss apartment to rent. And it is nooo easy task. Finding an apartment to rent in Zurich and Geneva is notoriously difficult due to the housing shortage in large Swiss cities. There’s more people looking and not enough apartments available, with the percentage of freed up apartments at any given time being less than 1%. In fact, it’s quite common for the Swiss to rent their apartment for decades, all the way into their retirement years. Combine that with Swiss society being one of the largest aging populations in the world, the ability for young professionals and students to find Swiss housing is greatly hindered. This guide to Swiss apartment renting aims to demystify the rental process in Switzerland. You’ll learn the ins and outs of where to look, how to apply, how much rent is in Switzerland and what to expect (plus some personal insight) in this guide to renting Swiss apartments.
A little about me and why I wrote this Swiss housing guide: I’m Andrea, a Swiss-American who has lived in Switzerland for more than decade and rented in 5 cities across the French, German and Italian regions. I put together this guide for my younger self, because I wish there something like it when I was trying to find an apartment in a new city. I hope it helps newly Swissed students and expats in their renting journey.
Everyone here knows how difficult it is, yet there’s very few resources online that don’t sound like they were written by a robot. Which I get. It’s not exactly the most interesting topic to write about. Let’s not even talk about how your Swiss landlord can be a total nightmare! *cough* greedy *cough*
I hope this guide to renting in Switzerland helps, and if there’s anything you’d like to share to help others, please do write in the comments below.
Step 1: Look Online
Chances are you’re going to Switzerland (or have just moved) without having much of a network here.
The easiest way to find an apartment is for someone you know, who’s leaving their current place, to transfer their apartment directly to you.
When tenants leave an apartment, they’re able to put forward one or more new tenant applications to the landlord.
Landlords tend to prefer this as it takes all the work out of posting the rental property on a portal, scheduling viewings and responding to queries.
Locals in Switzerland usually procure an apartment through someone they know, whether it’s a work colleague, a friend of a friend, or family member.
Switzerland being such a small country, jobs, apartments and such are often transferred via one’s network without ever being posted publicly. It’s like a game of musical chairs – but the societal version.
Still, there are a number of ways to look for a rental apartment in Switzerland:
Apartment search websites
Social platform marketplaces
Hiring a relocation service
Online Property Portals
The rental property websites have apartments listed directly by real estate agencies.
Homegate and Immostreet are some of the most popular. This is also the most difficult way to land an apartment in that your chances of being selected are slim.
Marketplaces on Social Platforms
People are constantly moving in and out of apartments, though it does tend to slow down in the summer and winter holidays when people are away for vacation.
They will often post on Facebook marketplace or Anibis (Switzerland’s version of Ebay) to either find subletters or completely transfer the apartment over to someone new.
Tip: Apply immediately if you see something you like
Swiss apartments get snatched up before you’ve even had a chance to find them or hit send on your message. As soon as someone posts they’re leaving their apartment, rest assured they’re receiving dozens of messages as soon as they hit publish.
If you see an apartment you like, don’t waste a second in applying. It’s a race and the fastest win.
Hiring a Relocation Service Company
Not many people opt for this route, but for those who don’t have the time to scour the web, write messages and attend viewings, hiring a relocation company will take all the work out for you.
This naturally doesn’t come free, so you would need to be willing to pay whatever fee the company requires. Sometimes it can be the first month’s rent.
Step 2: How to Apply for Rental Apartments
An impeccable rental application can make all the difference when looking for a Swiss apartment.
There is no room for mistakes in Switzerland (as you’ll soon find out) and it’s imperative that you meet all the requirements of landlords and give them all the correct information. Precision is your friend in this country.
Applying for apartments in Switzerland is akin to applying for a job. All landlords and subleasers will require your application to include various documents including:
The application form from the landlord or agency
Copy of ID / work permit
Salary slip for the last 3 months
Extract from the local debt collection register
In Switzerland there’s no such thing as a credit score. Instead, you provide an official document showing your debt status from the local debt collection register to prove you have no outstanding debts.
In German it’s called Betreibungsauszuges and in French attestation de non-poursuites.
Tip: Including a personal letter to your application can help
While I may never know, I feel that adding a personal letter to my rental application helped me get selected for apartments.
It’s basically like a cover letter for a job, but explaining who you are, why you’re interested in the apartment and why you would be a good tenant and neighbor.
Landlords can receive a hundred applications for one apartment, especially if it’s a nice one, so going the extra mile helps yours stand out.
Zurich Apartment Rent (How Much Rent is in Switzerland)
The cost of renting can vary greatly depending on whether you’re:
In a small city, big city or village
In the city center versus out of the city center
Number of bedrooms
Old or recently renovated
An apartment in a smaller town like Zug instead of Zurich, or even neighboring Germany (France in French Switzerland), will be more affordable, BUT there’s the added time and cost of commuting.
Or, if you work in Geneva, to find more affordable housing you can live in the outskirts of Geneva city like Mies, in a neighboring town like Nyon, or the next biggest city 45 minutes away Lausanne.
Many people also choose to live just over the border in French cities like Ferney Voltaire. There’s an extra layer of complexity, though, as you’re technically a resident of France, and all admin and taxes must be done under French rules.
If you prefer to live right in the city, then you might wonder which neighborhoods are best. Switzerland is very safe so you don’t need to worry about accidentally living in an unsafe neighborhood. Each neighborhood does have its own characteristics and vibe. Certain parts might be grungier than others, and some areas are livelier with lots of university students while others attract families with young kids.
There’s plenty of very old apartment buildings in Switzerland that have terrible units like the above photo depicts. While not unlivable, you can tell these apartments haven’t been renovated in decades.
Many landlords never bother to renovate because they know people are desperate to find housing and will rent as is.
Swiss apartments don’t have in-unit laundry like in the US. They’re communal, down in the basement, and sometimes, each tenant has an allotted time slot for when they can do laundry. And if you don’t stick to your time slot, your victimized neighbor WILL complain to the landlord.
Generally speaking, if you’re a single person looking to rent a normal 1 bedroom apartment in Zurich or Geneva you’re looking at a range of CHF 1700 to CHF 2500. A studio is a little more affordable but not significantly.
Cost to Rent a Room in Switzerland
If you’re looking for a room in a flatshare, the cost can range from very cheap rooms at CHF 600 to luxury apartment rooms at CHF 2000+ with most rooms falling in the CHF 900 to CHF 1600 range.
The best place to find a room is to look for posts in Facebook marketplace, the classifieds section of expat social networks like glocals or expat groups on Facebook.
If you need two separate bedrooms or more, then the price of renting goes up much higher.
What does 3.5 rooms, 2.5 rooms mean?
A 4 room description in Switzerland doesn’t mean there are 4 bedrooms.
A kitchen and living space count as 1.5 rooms (weird I know!). Here is what room numbers generally mean in Switzerland:
1.5 = studio (kitchen/living/bedroom altogether)
2 = studio (living/bedroom together + separate kitchen)
2.5 = 1 bedroom (kitchen/living together + bedroom)
3 = 1 bedroom (kitchen + living + bedroom)
3.5 = 2 bedroom (kitchen/living room together + 2 bedrooms)
Remember, this is a just a general guideline as it can vary from canton to canton. Sometimes a very small room that’s more for storage can be counted as 0.5 rooms.
Housing Security Deposit
When you first move in, you’ll need to pay a three month deposit. (With subleases it’s usually 1 or 2 months paid directly to the subleaser.) In Switzerland, the deposit is placed in a special bank account opened by your own bank in the tenant’s name. So when you log in to your online bank account, you’ll see that separate account listed with your other Norma ones. That being said, you need a local Swiss bank account in order to be able to rent in Switzerland.
No one can touch this security deposit account, not you nor the landlord, so it’s safe and secure until you decide to end your housing contract.
Another cost you need to consider is the utility and building maintenance fees that you’ll be required to pay monthly. It’s essentially an estimated partial payment of utilities.
At the end of the year when the exact cost is calculated for the entire building and divided by the number of tenants, you’ll need to pay whatever remains if there’s a balance. There usually is a small balance remaining, but not an amount that would you make you fall off your seat.
In German Switzerland it’s called Nebenkosten, and it covers all the building expenses, maintenance, cleaning, gardening, etc.
Be sure to check whether utilities are included in the rent or an additional expense you’ll have to pay on top. With subleases, you will sometimes also have to pay separately for Internet/TV depending on each subleaser.
Radio & Television Fee in Switzerland
When renting in Swiss cities, every household must pay a yearly radio & television fee. As of 1 January 2021, the radio and television licence fee amounts to CHF 335 per year. They used to charge you based on the number of devices you have in your home, but now it’s just per household.
When subletting, make sure that your subleaser has notified their landlord that they are doing so. Tenants are NOT allowed to sublet without receiving written permission from the landlord. If they are doing so in secret, you risk the landlord finding out and kicking you out. I know someone who has had this actually happen to them, and it’s not something you want to have to deal with while adjusting to a new job and country.
Beware of Housing Scams!
Housing scams run rampant online, and if something feels off about a posting, it’s because there probably IS!
Pictures too nice? Price too good? A too good to be true housing ad is always a scam.
Never pay a deposit before actually seeing the apartment IRL, and never trust anyone who promises to mail you the keys. They never do and said apartment never exists.
Landlord being abroad or out of the country currently is a dead giveaway of a scam.
Students seem most vulnerable to falling prey to scammers. Here’s the advice that EPFL University gives to its students:
NEVER pay to visit an apartment, neither in advance nor in person
NEVER send money to anyone if you don’t know them (mailing address, phone number, etc)
DON’T accept any offer you can, just because you’re worried you won’t find housing
DON’T agree to everything – the right of refusal can only help you
NEVER agree to anything under pressure
How Long Does it Take to Find a Swiss Apartment?
The length of time it takes to land a housing contract varies from person to person, but on average, you can expect to look for 6 months. Some people luck out and are able to land an apartment immediately, but not everyone gets so lucky. On the other extreme, some people look for up to a year or longer before they manage to get an apartment.
I hope this guide to renting in Switzerland was helpful, and if you have any questions or input, please drop them in the comments below. Or come say hi on Instagram! Wishing you all the best luck in your search for a new Swiss home!
The new ShiftCam SnapGrip Creator Kitwas made for content creators, so I was very excited when they reached out to me to test it out. The timing was perfect because I was about to head out to Southeast Asia for a month long trip. The SnapGrip kit contains:
SnapGrip: a portable, compact grip, dock and charger that allows users to shoot on a mobile phone quickly, securely and comfortably.
SnapPod is a quick-release handle and tripod mount. Hold it as a selfie stick or use it as a tripod.
SnapLight isa magnetic LED ring for hands-free lighting. 4 brightness settings
Each part can be purchased on its own if you’re not interested in the whole kit. Here are my honest thoughts along with pros and cons of the Shiftcam SnapGrip.
Out of all 3 components, I find the SnapGrip and SnapPod the most useful.
One thing to note about the SnapPod is that it’s a relatively short tripod and selfie stick and doesn’t offer the range that a proper tripod will provide. It’s very useful when you need to do angled hands-free shooting and be able to tilt the phone in any direction.
The SnapGrip is particularly great as a dock when you simply need to keep the phone upright. If you’re phone is MagSafe then the SnapGrip’s MagSafe charging feature is very useful, because the most annoying thing ever while creating content is when you’ve perfected the take, and your phone dies on you.
Short selfie stick/tripod
The thin rod attachment can be tilted but doesn’t stay securely in place once you find the perfect tilt and likes to droop
Magnet is very strong and doesn’t easily detach
Connects to Bluetooth so you can shoot and click shutter button with one hand easily just like a regular camera
All three components work as part of an ecosystem and magnetically attach to each other so you’re able to use all of them together.
Though the SnapLight is small, it does make a difference in illuminating the subject. If you’d like to add more professionalism to your content, using an LED light improves the quality. But I wouldn’t consider it necessary. If you want to invest in the lighting quality of your content, then you’re better off spending more on a full sized LED ring light.
While I love the SnapGrip and find the SnapPod very compact and useful, the SnapPod does have limitations.
The pros outweighs any cons for me though, because I no longer need to create makeshift stands using random objects on my table to keep my phone upright. I can also film hands-free and hassle-free while I use my hands to demonstrate product usage and tutorials for content creation.
Overall, the quality and design of ShiftCam is very high and the company offers a generous 2 year warranty should anything go wrong.
(Updated July 19, 2020 to compare Getaway House 1 bed vs 2 bed). My Getaway House Discount Code OBL saves $$.
As we all postpone and cancel our epic travel plans to go to faraway places, I was searching for interesting staycations in the Los Angeles area when I discovered Getaway House. As exciting as the city is, sometimes you just need to get away, but not too far because, money. I was specifically looking for places to get back in touch with nature, because the healing power of nature is very very real. Hello forest bathing!
Dr. Qing Li, a professor at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, discovered that trees and plants emit aromatic compounds called phytoncides that can instigate healthy biological changes similar to aromatherapy. Spending time in nature can also help with symptom relief for health issues like depression, anxiety, cancer and attention disorders. The health benefits of spending time outside are many, and if you’re a city girl like me, it’s very needed just on an emotional and psychological level.
This is also the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors while not giving up the amenities you’d find at a hotel. If you’re interested in a tiny cabin rental, read on to find out all about my Getaway House experience, my dog’s review, and what to pack for Getaway House including a complete packing checklist for you to have the perfect Getaway.
I’ll be diving into all the best tips and tricks to make the most out of your Getaway House stay. This is everything I wish I knew before I went! Plus my Getaway House promo code saves you $$.
what is getaway
Getaway is a tiny cabin nestled in nature, just a few hours from the city. The mini escape promises to help you disconnect from your usual day-to-day routine and get back to nature, relax, rejuvenate and recharge. From start to end you don’t have to interact with nary a soul. Getaway wants to be part of your wellness routine, and they make it so easy (and affordable) to do so!
I tinkered around with the online booking system and found that there’s a big difference between weekend and weekday prices. It can be more than twice as expensive to go on a Saturday then Sunday through Thursday. For Los Angeles outpost, Weekday prices are around $199 with weekend prices usually at $399 during the spring and summer.
While Getaway New York has similar prices to LA, the other cities seem to be much more affordable. Maybe it’s time for me to move? If you’re not living in a super expensive city like LA or NY then booking prices can go much lower. Plus with my Getaway discount code OBL you can save $25 extra. I also appreciate that there is no minimum stay on the weekends. A lot of eco lodging places require a minimum 2 night stay on the weekends but you can book for Saturday and leave Sunday!
Getaway House offers one bed or two bed cabins. (UPDATE JULY 7, 2020: I had a second stay with Getaway in a 2 bed cabin and will be comparing the 1 bed vs 2 bed. Hint: I like the 2 bed more!) I stayed in a one bed cabin but the two bed cabins may be larger. The two bed cabins are bunk bed style so the view may be a little obstructed. They’re perfect if you have kids traveling with you or are brave enough to do a tiny cabin stay with 3 of your friends.
They also have add-on kits for purchase when booking like intimacy kits, kids adventure kits, and celebration kits for birthdays, anniversaries and egagements.
There is a $40 pet fee if you’re bringing your dog along. This includes some dog snacks. My Getaway cabin also had a water and food bowl, so I didn’t need to bring my own.
requesting specific cabins (with the best views)
The truth is some cabins have better views than others and some have waaay better views. I walked around looking at other Getaway cabins at the Big Bear outpost with a tinge of envy at the view some of these guests get to wake up to in the morning.
I emailed Getaway’s customer service to check if it’s possible to request specific cabins (each cabin is named after someone), and they said while they cannot guarantee cabin requests they will do the best they can to accomodate them.
SO, if you’re going to the Los Angeles outpost, I recommend requesting cabin LATAINE, TOM or cabin RENATA. Make a note of those names. You’ll get to wake to views like the above if you’re lucky enough. The picture does not do it justice. Most of the cabins do have amazing panoramic views, but there are definitely some that don’t.
some interesting amenities I didn’t expect
24/7 concierge service by text
Because this isn’t a regular hotel with a reception and on-site employees, Getaway House provides service by text and 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Leading up to my travel date I got a few texts by friendly staff and I could ask any questions by text and they would respond almost immediately. This made me feel safer about going to a remote, secluded area. If some emergency would befall me during my stay, at least all I had to do was be near my phone and still have the ability to type. Just kidding, there’s an emergency telephone available.
snacks and firewood are available for purchase in the cabin
The Getaway cabin has snacks and firewood available in case you forget them. The prices aren’t over the top, but I would still recommend you bring your own snacks. There was also a s’mores kit for two waiting for me free of charge. It’s a good thing I didn’t go out of my way to buy marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate and skewers!
the water is drinkable
I don’t drink tap water if at all possible. The number of dangerous chemicals present in our tap water is very scary and I don’t take the risk. BUT, if you’re ok with tap water, the water that runs through the cabin’s kitchen sink is entirely drinkable.
I packed my Travel Berkey Filter which I use everyday at home and it completely eliminates any need to buy plastic water bottles.
an electrical outlet is available
The cabin has an electrical outlet for you to not only charge your phone but also plug in devices. So if you really need to bring your hair straightener, curling wand, laptop, essential oil diffuser (moi), you CAN!
These aren’t exactly blackout shades, because they don’t blackout the room entirely, but I didn’t expect there to be shades at all. I am so glad there were because I am a very light sleeper. Thanks to the impeccable attention to detail in this cabin I was able to get some decent shuteye.
basic condiments like salt, pepper and olive oil
When it was time to cook dinner, I panicked because I hadn’t packed any salt or pepper. But the Getaway cabin had every basic cooking item I needed like salt, pepper, olive oil, cutlery, pots and pans, and knives.
mini fridge with freezer
The kitchen is stocked with a decent sized mini fridge that also has a freezer. So if you want to bring ice cream or popsicles in the summer months, you can store these. The freezer part is small so don’t bring jumbo size treats.
Getaway House 1 bed vs 2 bed
I stayed in a Getaway 1 bed cabin in March and a 2 bed cabin this weekend, and I much prefer the 2 bed cabin. Yes the 1 bed has a floor to ceiling style window and the 2 bed is a little obstructed from the top bunk. But it’s only a minor obstruction. You still get an amazing view from the bottom bed and a different view from the top bed.
There are stairs leading up to the upper bunk bed and a metal railing handle for support. The top bed has 2 windows as well and the bed seems to be the same size. It’s suitable for kids or shorter adults because there isn’t much vertical space up at the top. I liked the different feeling you get on the top bed. The view is a little different and it feels like you’re suspended in the middle of the forest!
In the summer, it does get hot on the upper bed and the AC doesn’t do a good job of reaching that area. The 2 bed cabin felt much more spacious to me than the 1 bed. There is a large wooden panel between the bed and the window so it feels like the sleeping area is much bigger. The rest of the 2 bed cabin like the toilet and kitchen is about the same size as the 1 bed.
some items I wish I had brought
motion sickness pills
The drive up to Big Bear from LA is only about 2 hours, but once you’re near you’ll encounter neverending winding roads. I get BAD motion sickness. I completely forgot how mountain roads are and had to suffer through the last part of the drive. Getting to Big Bear Lake is also full of winding roads, and I dry heaved all the way there. If you get motion sick, don’t forget your medicine!
warmer clothing (winter)
I understimated how cold it would be in March in Big Bear! It has been so warm in LA that I thought it would have warmed up in Big Bear too. I was wrong. I could barely last five minutes outside at night with a faux teddy coat on. I had to turn the heater on all night and taking the dog out to pee in the early morning was brutal too.
Technically dogs need to be on leash at all times, but I let Rufus off to play fetch directly outside our cabin among the trees. He LOVED it! He’s never been in the woods before and quickly took to exploring.. This plus melting snow of course was not a good mix. I ended up with a dog whose fluffy legs and paws turned black. Giving him a shower inside a tiny cabin bathroom was not the highlight of my stay.
cabin check in
The Getaway text concierge guys sent me a text with the cabin name and keycode 2 hours before check-in (check-in is at 3 pm). I started panicking the night before because I didn’t know which cabin to go to and how to get in. The protocol though is they send you a text a few hours before you’re check-in time. They also sent me a map of the outpost and cabins, recomending that I download it because it’s possible to lose service once in the area. I lost cellphone service for a bit here and there, but for the most part had connection when arriving and throughout my stay.
It was very easy to find my cabin based on the map. The have well-placed signs to guide you if you do forget to download the map and lose service. We drove up right to our cabin, unloaded our luggage, and proceeded to our cabin door. The cabins use an electronic keypad lock, but you can also text the concierge with the word “unlock” and they will remotely unlock it for you.
what’s inside the tiny cabin
As tiny as the Getaway cabin is, I was impressed by how well stocked it was with everything I’d need and then some.
The screen door helps you feel less claustrophobic and allows a lot more natural light and that fresh forest air to come in
The kitchen is stocked with forks, spoons, hand towels, bowls, cups, mugs, knives, lighter, can opener, bottle cap opener, pot, pan, kettle pot, and a cutting board. There’s also a mini fridge with freezer, dish soap and sponge, cleaning supplies under the sink and a “minibar” with snacks available for purchase.
I am so glad there was a fully functioning heater because it was way colder than I thought in March.
dining table and chairs
There is a small dining table with a chair and a bench that’s part of the bedframe. The table can double as a desk to play board games or journal. We had breakfast and dinner inside the cabin because it was too cold outside. There’s an electrical outlet so if you do need to work on your laptop it’s possible. On the table is a cellphone lockbox for you to lock away your phones and go off grid, get off social media, leave texts unaswered, leave emails piling up in your inbox..you get the idea!
card games, books and radio
They provide ways for you to relax, disconnect and have fun during your stay. The cabin had a set of books available to read by the bed and a deck of cards. There were no board games so if you’re into Scrabble or Monopoly you’ll have to bring them. There’s also a radio so you can blast music. The cabin walls are well insulated and block out nearly all sound so I could play my music loud without having to worry about bothering anyone.
queen size bed
I want this to be the most honest Getaway House review out there, so I will have to say that the bed was not as comfortable as what I’m used to. If you prefer a mattress that’s more on the firm side then your opinion may differ. My back is used to a softer mattress so I did wake up a little stiff in the morning.
giant window plus small window
The window is undoubtedly the best part of the Getaway cabin experience. Is a room even worth it if it doesn’t have a view? The huge window is what made me feel like I was still outside in the wilderness even though, technically, I was inside a tiny cabin. I don’t often get to appreciate the beauty of nature (except the beach) living in Los Angeles, so I reveled in every moment I could.
There is also a narrow horizontal window at the foot of the bed that gives you a secondary view of the firepit and picnic table. This is especially useful if you have food roasting on the firepit or if you want to check how the fire is burning without having to step outside.
This girl can’t handle outhouses, public bathrooms or portapotties. The Getaway cabin thankfully has a tiny, clean bathroom equipped with towels, toilet paper, shower stall and biodegradable shampoo, body wash and conditioner.
The water turns nice and hot, but the shower head is fixed and isn’t detachable. Not easy when you’re trying to wash your dirty dog.
outdoor firepit and picnic table
Our outdoor firepit had four chairs and a large picnic table even though we didn’t use the table. The firepit was perfect for grilling and roasting smores – one of my favorite parts of the Getaway! The last time I made s’mores was probably in my kitchen on a day I was feeling homesick in Switzerland circa 2012. There’s a fire starter kit to help you if you don’t know how.
you’re not completely secluded
There are other Getaway cabins around you so you’re not completely isolated. I had visions of a crazy ax man waiting for my arrival and coming to murder me with no one for miles around to help me. The entire time I spent at my Getaway cabin I only saw our nearest neighbor’s dog roaming around. The only time I saw humans was once when I took strolls with Rufus on the roads within our outpost. They were also walking their pup.
In my cabin I felt secluded in nature, but I knew I was inside a Getaway outpost cabin community of at least a dozen cabins.
things to do in Big Bear
Big Bear Lake is about a 20 minute drive from the Los Angeles outpost. There’s also Lake Arrowhead but we didn’t end up visiting. Big Bear offers plenty of activities year round including skiing, snowboarding hiking, kayaking, jet skiing, lake touring, fishing and more. Check them out here.
Getaway House Packing Checklist
I’m making it super easy for you to prepare everything you need for your Getaway House stay with this detailed packing checklist. I’ve also included what to pack for your dog. Some of these items you may not need depending on the weather. Here’s what to pack for Getaway:
Coats, gloves, hats and layers for winter
Boots or sneakers for hiking
Slippers to wear in the cabin
Groceries for cooking breakfast, lunch and/or dinner
Snacks to munch on like a squirrel
Wine and more wine
Cocktail mix if you feel like getting your drink on (please drink responsibly and only if you’re 21+. Same with the wine.)
Coffee (it’s available for purchase but it didn’t taste great. I brought my matcha powder)
Ingredients for your coffee like oat milk and natural sweetener
Hot chocolate mix for the winter
Self-care items (I brought my essential oil diffuser and essential oils. For you, this could be a journal, book, magazine, vibrator, sudoku, sound bath bowls, adult coloring book, red light therapy device, gua sha tool)
Condoms, massage oil, bedroom toys (if you want to get really romantic)
Personal Care Items
Skincare (don’t forget those sheet masks)
Makeup (or go makeup-free!)
Contacts, lens solution and glasses
Sleeping essentials if needed (Eye mask, ear plugs, white noise machine. I can’t fall asleep without wearing ear plugs.)
Laptop if necessary
Camera if you’re into photography
Pet Packing List
Leash and poop bags
My Dog’s Review of Getaway House
Rufus here. The drive to Getaway House Big Bear was horrible. I had no idea where I was going or why, but I could definitely feel SOMETHING was up. I barked all the way there to let my pawrents know that I KNEW something was about to happen. There was a brief period they opened up the backseat window for me so I could stick my head out. Pure bliss.
When I finally got out of the car I was lead to a tiny wooden structure propped on wheels surrounded by fun things like dirt, ice, puddles of melted ice, sticks, leaves and something I’ve never seen before. Mom called it a pine cone.
I got inside the tiny cabin and boy was it tiny. There was no space for me to walk around inside so I mostly stayed on the bed, either looking out at nature or lying down. My bed was nice and large, perfect for me to sprawl across and sleep. The Getaway cabin surprisingly came with dog bowls for my food and water.
I got to play fetch with the biggest sticks I’d ever chomped on and roam around sniffing all sorts of new trees and logs. It seemed these were punishable acts because mom put me in the shower and used the body wash to scrub me down. I was too dead to fight back. Other than my pawrents forgetting my dog wipes, toys and bones, I had so much fun and would love to go back.
Getaway House is perfect if you’re not into camping but still want the camping experience! Not having to deal with sleeping bags, setting up tents, public bathrooms, bugs and the elements is the only kind of camping this sort-of high maintenance gal can handle. I absolutely love glamping and I feel Getaway House has really taken tiny cabin rentals to a new level with the amount of detail they put into the entire experience from start to finish. There’s all kinds of thoughtful little details they add to the experience, but I don’t mention them in this post so I don’t ruin the surprise.
If you’ve been interested in a tiny cabin rental or wilderness stay, I have a promo code for you to save when booking your own Getaway. My usual code OBL saves $25 off your Getaway House booking on their website.
If you’re looking for a 5-star luxury boutique wellness hotel for your ski vacation in Switzerland, check out my review of The Capra Saas-Fee.
We arrived at Saas Fee Friday evening ready for an alpine escape in this picturesque Swiss ski resort village. I’m not a skier or a winter person for that matter but I love the sweeping views of the majestic Alps in the winter. We were greeted with a warm welcome by Raphael and his staff at The Capra and had a speedy check-in. The 5-star luxury ski hotel opened in Dec 2015 with 35 suites offering panoramic views from each room and modern luxuries in an elegant chalet setting.
I’m so excited to feature not only a Swiss luxury hotel but an eco-conscious award-winning one at that! Located in Monthey, Switzerland the Whitepod Hotel combines Swiss alpine luxury & sustainability with 15 cozy igloo-shaped “pods” designed to run as much as possible on renewable energy and with little impact on the environment. They even have private ski slopes & a lift for guests, an on-site restaurant Les Cerniers, sauna, all kinds of snow equipment and amazing Alp views from each pod. I loved getting away from it all and enjoying the peace and quiet in this remote destination. I stayed two different times in a Deluxe Pod and Zen Suite.
At check-in a friendly receptionist explained how the pods work and what activities they offer on site which include skiing, snowscooting, snowshoe hiking, dogsledding & more. Then I was handed a backpack with headlamps, map and other emergency equipment and walked about 15 minutes to pod lucky number 7.
I then headed to the central chalet a few steps from my pod to enjoy the afternoon Tea Time. There were a variety of pastries, fruits & organic teas sylishly displayed and cozy couches to enjoy them on. I also discovered a “movie theater” room filled with bean bags and a large screen.
King Size bed
mezzanine with another bed
flat screen TV with Apple TV
Whitepod’s Restaurant Les Cerniers serves gourmet Swiss cuisine using locally sourced and fresh ingredients. The menu offers succuent meat & fish dishes as well as a variety of mountain specialties like Assiette Valaisanne and Swiss fondue.
The breakfast is simple yet high-quality and delicious. There’s fresh pastries & bread, scrambled eggs, bacon, fruits, cold cuts, cereals, dried fruits & fresh orange juice.
Whitepod also ha pod suites, like the Forest Suite, 007 Suite & Swiss Pod Suite, each stylishly decorated according to its theme.
Whitepod Zen Suite
The Whitepod Zen Suite during winter was stunning and levels above the Deluxe Pod. If you want ultimate luxury with a traditional Japanese bath in your pod then check out the Zen Suite.
I loved being able to take a luxury vacation while also being mindful of my ecological footprint by staying at Whitepod. I hope that more and more hotels will take this direction as the resource consumption and waste produced by the hospitality industry is substantial. While Whtepod does not have a rating I would personally give it 5 stars as it had a level of service and quality found at traditional 5-star hotels. The staff went out of their way to make my stay as comfortable as possible, which is no easy feat as the pods are a 20-min walk from reception.
Grand Hotel Des Bains Kempinski is the oldest and largest five-star hotel in St Moritz, 1864 to be precise. Regal in every way, the iconic Kempinski hotel is everything you’d expect from a luxury hotel in the glitzy Swiss destination of St Moritz. The exclusive Swiss German town is the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism and found fame through its mineral springs first discovered 3,000 years ago. St. Moritz is a pinnacle of luxury and a popular destination for celebs and royalty. I stayed two nights at the Grand Hotel Des Bains Kempinski and am sharing my thoughts in this St Moritz hotel review.
The hotel is just a few minutes from the train stop (the journey took me about 8 hours from Geneva). From the moment I set foot on the hotel, I was a bit overwhelmed by its opulence especially after my long tiring journey. It is a stunning hotel. I was upgraded to one of the highest grade suites in the hotel that’s situated closest to the incredible Kempinski spa.
This is very much a spa hotel, so a must if you love luxury spas. The Kempinski St Moritz one is probably the largest spa I’ve ever experienced in a hotel.
It’s set on 2,800 sqm and has four different saunas, a steam bath, a laconium, an indoor pool, Kneipp baths, a gym, a sun terrace and a separate ladies’ spa. The gym overlooks the indoor pool at the bottom and the ladies spa has about four different small sauna rooms.
My suite had two bedrooms, one slightly larger and nicer and a second smaller one ideal for kids. It also has a separate foyer, living room, kitchen, dining area and balcony,
There was a bit of a miscommunication at first about whether breakfast could be delivered to your room as some hotels will simply charge a room delivery fee. The breakfast came beautifully presented with quality fresh fruits, cheeses, jams and spreads along with juice and coffee.
The balcony had a view of the hotel plus mountains. Truly how I wish breakfast was savored every morning by me.
The service was attentive and 5-star worthy, which is what I would expect from an iconic St Moritz hotel.
I went on a 4 day trip in August to Menorca, a small island next to Mallorca in the Balearic Islands and had to go with the best hotel I could find. The Melia Cala Galdana looked like true luxury and seemed to have the best oceanfront views. The cost was about 430 euros per night, which is very pricey for a hotel on a relatively quiet Spanish island, but after staying at the hotel the cost is definitely worth it if you’re going in high season.
Room 4.5/5 (-.5 pt: docked for being very small, basic amenities)
Service 3.8/5 (-1pt: came 10 minutes before breakfast was ending and was not welcomed by the waitress working, tried to order pancakes/omelette as usual and was told the kitchen was closed when the chef was clearly manning it. -1 pt: Added an extra night to our stay at check in and was not upgraded even though I was a Melia Pro member and there was confirmed availability. +.8 pt: Champagne and dessert provided
Pools 3/5 Infinity pool not Available to all guests, public pool nothing special
Food 5/5 Cape Nao was excellent, Quality breakfast
View from the Deluxe Room balcony
View from the buffet breakfast and half board dinner restaurant
View from the lounge restaurant
Infinity pool available only to certain room level guests
More shots of the Mosaic restaurant (where buffet breakfast and buffet dinner happens)
After driving 4 hours from the northern tip of Sardinia to the southern tip, we arrived at Falkensteiner Resort Capo Boi, a family hotel set on a conservation area with its own private sandy bay, a spectacular double-tiered infinity pool with breathtaking Capo Carbonara Bay views and five-star amenities. They also offer a decadent dinner buffet complimentary each night, activities such as snorkelling, stand-up paddle boarding and tennis on site, kids play areas & much more. You basically never feel the need to venture out of the resort while on holiday.
The White Pearl Villas in the capital of Santorini was one of the most picturesque stays I’ve ever had! And I’ve stayed at quite a few spectacular resorts over the years so that’s saying something. Santorini offers such unique landscapes and I was able to enjoy it daily right from my hotel room.
Finding a job in Switzerland isn’t easy, and if you’re not a Swiss or EU citizen or exceptionally skilled in finance, trading, IT or international relations, it’s even tougher. I wanted to share a very real and in-depth account of my journey on how I landed my first job and started my career in Switzerland as a fresh graduate from America with no work experience (aside from internships). I also wanted to share the various interview processes I went through, which varies from company to company and ranges from casual to highly formal. Most recently, I interviewed with UBS Zurich. Please remember my experience is unique to me and my personal circumstances and everyone’s experience is different. If you’re looking to work in Switzerland, I hope you’ll find useful tips and information to help you find a job in a country with some of the highest-paying salaries. Come find me @organicbeautylover and ask me any questions you have!
It’s experiences like Mercado Sagrado that make me feel like I belong back in California. I’m able to connect with like-minded people who want to vibrate on a higher level and who are looking to inspire and be inspired by the stories, energies and crafts of others. It’s the kind of event that feeds your soul (and tummy) through healing workshops, talks, music and food- every kind of nourishment you could dream of. The lifestyle annual fair is held in the Topanga Canyons at Paramount Ranch, and it feels like you’ve stepped into an old Western and back into nature. Stylish creatives, artists and designers bustle about in boho chic outfits and flowy dresses, live music plays in the background, and the scent of sizzling vegan food wafts through the fresh, crisp air. I only attended Sunday but next time I’m determined to go both Saturday and Sunday so I take full advantage of all the enlightening talks and workshops.
I was so excited attend Derma E‘s Zen in the Bev event in Beverly Hills this week and had to take a bunch of photos to share and document what was probably the best-looking event I’ve been to. I feel like I have to start off by saying this isn’t an organic green brand, so while it isn’t quite on brand, it is a more natural and affordable option that’s widely accessible at ULTA and Whole Foods.
Not only was this event held at a Beverly Hills mansion with pool and views overlooking LA, there was no shortage of activities scheduled like sound bath meditation, henna, hair braiding, intuitive readings, yoga with views, massages, cupping, facials and more. I mean I’m talking about the works: crystal clear pool with a unicorn floatie, kombucha on tap, acai bowl bar with a dozen toppings, vegan ice cream truck by Frozen Fruit Co, vegan taco bar at the grill, matcha brownies. My stomach and heart was full at the end. Thank you so much Derma E for this super relaxing and beautiful day!
First off, I’m sorry that I didn’t get to show you guys as many beautiful destinations as I got to last summer (Sardinia, Cannes, Monaco, Lisbon, Algarve, Lanzarote, Canary Island- so many last year!). This summer I stayed closer to home, visiting nearby Lyon (2 hours by car from Geneva) and Montpellier (4 hours by train from Geneva) as well as Malta (I’ll be featuring this trip over at Kali’s The Periodical so stay tuned!). Wherever I go I’m most interested in food (and beaches) and in this blog post I wanted to highlight a small handful of must visit restaurants in Montpellier. If you go you probably wouldn’t stay more than a few days anyways so no need for an exhaustive list.
I finally visited the Canary Islands after wanting to go there as a college kid studying abroad in Europe and can only recommend it if you’re looking for a truly unique island vacation. Situated close to the coast of Western Sahara, Gran Canaria is the 3rd largest island in the Canaries archipelago but has the largest population. The landscapes are sweeping, dramatic and vary from the north to the south to inland.
Multiple pools on different levels with panoramic views
Stunning infinity pool that feels like you’re floating mid-air
Aloe Spa using natural beauty products
Extravagant breakfast & dinner buffets
New Sens Kitchen Patio Garden dining area
Tons of free yoga and fitness classes daily
The spa pool at night
The Aloe Spa is also equipped with a hammam, steam room, ice fountain and air room as well as lounge area with snacks, tea & water.
The various sunbeds scattered throughout the topmost level of the resort
The best buffet breakfast and dinners I had on the islands
The other best part of this resort was the breakfast & dinner buffets. Everytime I have a superb dining experience at a hotel and think it can’t be topped I’m proven wrong and this time it was the Sheraton’s. The selection, sophisticated presentation, quality of ingredients, gourmet options and attention to detail was outstanding. Pictured above is the fresh juice station where you could order customized juices but they also had pre-prepared detox juice blends in individual bottles.
and smoothies. There were so many different food stations you could easily miss one.
Dinner was equally fabulous with a different theme each night ranging from Asian to seafood and Tierra (meat-focused) to Spanish. Due to lighting I wasn’t able to take pictures, but there was most notably:
Chef’s stations for freshly prepared fish, calamari, sausages and other meats
Wok station for customized wok dishes prepared by a chef
Dessert selection with perhaps 30+ different desserts including a molten chocolate lava cake station and candy section
Gourmet hors d’ouevres
Excellent 5-star service
The room I stayed in was Double Deluxe with a balcony offering views over the golf course. There are no rooms with views of the ocean but the rest of the hotel more than makes up for this. I stayed at other 5-star hotels that did and didn’t offer ocean views and this hotel surpassed them by far in every way.
The room has a modern Asian aesthetic with accents of red, wood and slate and came with ample amenities including a welcome champagne bottle. Air conditioning worked perfectly, the bed was uber comfortable and the size of the room though on the smaller end was perfectly cozy.
Having stayed at a few other reputable 5-star hotels on the island I’m so glad I got to experience the Sheraton Gran Canaria because it truly did stand out. Anyone who comes to this island and chooses not to stay here is without a doubt missing out on an experience that no other hotel can offer.
I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Algarve before even during my 4 years working in Europe and I wasn’t CRAZY excited to go knowing nothing about it. But I wanted a quick getaway and I love discovering new places so I went ahead and got the ticket. I wish I had known of it sooner because Algarve is truly breathtaking with its limestone cliffs, sculpted rock formations, clear emerald seas & pastel-colored sunsets. *Also, I decided NOT to edit these shots like I normally do because I’d rather you see Portugal’s beauty in its natural state.*
The first night I stayed in Albufeira which is a cute little coastal village about an hour from Faro airport. I couldn’t do much sightseeing because i needed to work remotely but the beach is only a few blocks away and I was able to enjoy the sun, sea, and sand in the afternoon. I also highly recommend going to The Beach Basket – I went there twice because it was that good and the panoramic views of the sea are an added plus. The beaches in this region have orange golden sand and sea green waters that I haven’t seen anywhere else in Europe. Utterly unique and a welcome change if you’re used to seeing the crystal clear waters every summer.
The next day I headed to Ria Park Hotel located in Algarve where I was invited to stay. A 5-star hotel located between Vale do Lobo & Quinta do Lago and just a 9-minute walk to the beach, Ria Park has a stunning lagoon-style pool, spa, golf course, FIFA soccer pitch, restaurants and rooms with views over the gardens, pool & sea. I also met up with the Marketing Director of the hotel group (Ria Park actually has 3 hotels – Quinta do Lago which is a classic 5-star, Ria Park Hotel a more modern 5-star hotels and Ria Park Garden which has 4 stars for the budget traveler) and was able to share with her my journey as well as learn more about the hotel. It’s actually frequented by all 3 Portuguese soccer teams and even Cristiano Ronaldo himself because they train at the hotel’s FIFA pitch & chill together as a team at the hotel. There were 2 teams staying at the hotel while I was there but I think they were division 3 or 4.
The lagoon-style pool
I was so touched by the Pasteis de Belem that had toothpicks with my “name” on them. Pasteis de Belem is to die for- I can’t even explain it – it’s orgasmic. There were also some tapas, Portuguese wine & fruits waiting in the room.
I stayed in a suite on the top floor that had a King size bed, Minibar, marble bathroom and spacious balcony
I did need to work remotely from the hotel so I didn’t do any sightseeing that day except kayaking to the Bengali Caves in the evening. These pictures don’t do it justice at all.
So the next morning I had a buffet breakfast on the restaurant’s veranda and laid out by the pool before heading to a few nearby beaches.
As always I brought several SPF products to stay protected under the sun and I didn’t get sunburned despite the strong sun raysl
Falesia Beach which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe
Praia da Marinha, the most famous beach of all in Algarve and the one I’ll never forget
After lying out and soaking in the beauty, I went back to the hotel to lie out by the pool and visit the spa, which has an indoor pool, Turkish bath, sauna, relaxation room and gym.
I had an amazing time in Algarve thanks to the breathtaking beauty of the region and Ria Park Hotel. I was there for about 4 days and it felt like I had been on a relaxing vacation for weeks. The beaches are close to the hotel that it was easy to get from place to place and the Portuguese hospitality combined with 5-star service was excellent. Everything is so affordable including high-end restaurants that you can really live it up and I appreciated that coming from Switzerland. I sincerely hope that I get to visit Algarve again and be able to spend more time exploring the region and enjoying everything it has to offer.
The last few hours before taking my flight back home were spent exploring a bit of Faro.
Sardinia, known as The Forgotten Isle, is a large breathtaking Italian island that’s still relatively unknown. Its long white sandy beaches, rugged landscapes, sapphire waters & delicious cuisine will seduce you. If not in real life, then at least by these pictures (I hope). Mr. Organic Beauty Lover and I landed into Olbia airport and rented a car to take us around the island. We then drove about 40 minutes to Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu (a Sofitel MGallery hotel), a beautiful hotel with an outdoor swimming pool, a private beach which can reached by the hotel’s free shuttle service, a sauna and a gym.
The Hotel Majestic Barriere is an iconic 5-star hotel located right on Croisette Avenue and just steps from where the star-studded Cannes Film Festival takes place in May. The hotel has 365 rooms, 2 penthouse suites and spectacular panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. With 4 bars & restaurants including a beautifully redecorated Fouqet’s restaurant, the NEW Spa Diane Barriere, private beach, pool, projection room & fitness center, the Barriere world has everything you could ever want.
Over the long Easter weekend in Europe I went to visit the French Riviera and cities of Cannes, Nice & Monaco. My favorite out of the 3 was Nice, a seaside city full of cosmopolitan vibes, old world charm & sunshine.
After living in Europe for nearly 5 years I decided to visit Lisbon only after I had run out of ideas for cities i wanted to visit. It wasn’t a city I had heard much buzz about or knew anything of really. I’m so glad I decided to finally visit because what I found was a total gem of a city!
Mykonos is one of Greece’s most famous islands with its picturesque cobblestoned whitewashed streets, bold colors & crazy nightlife. Since it was the end of October, the island had emptied out and the weather was quite cold, cloudy & windy so we weren’t able to enjoy the nightlife or the beaches but it felt like we had the whole island to ourselves. I recommend going at the latest in September though to enjoy Mykonos fully.
Over the weekend I went to Mallorca for a quick getaway and because I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to summer. While it’s been cooling down everywhere else, it was hot and toasty on the Spanish island. Whether you’re looking for a romantic vacation to get away from it all or an exciting nightlife-filled getaway, Mallorca has everything.
I went to Oahu for the first time last year and all I could think about was how can I get here again. The answer – airline miles! Thank goodness for them. My friend and I arrived into Kahului airport and rented a car at night. I suggest getting a flight that arrives while there’s still sunlight because seeing the island from a window seat thousands of miles up in the air is spectacular. We headed to Kihei and had a super late dinner at Sansei Restaurant & Bar. Maui is a very quiet island compared to Honolulu & Waikiki. Bars & restaurants shut down early and Sansei seemed to be one of just a few bars open til midnight or later. It happened to be karaoke night at Sansei and 50% off late night special time!
We arrived into NYC on a Friday evening and immediately started looking online for places to eat. We decided on one only a few blocks away called Secara, a Columbian restaurant serving fine Columbian cuisine and then tried to visit some popular rooftop bars only to find that there was an insane waiting list to take the elevator up. I was amazed at how every block was lined with an endless number of restaurants, shops & cafés galore. Everything is literally at your fingertips.
Just an hour from Geneva, Samoens is a village in the French Alps in the southeastern region of France. It’s known for being a popular ski resort, but during the summer Samoens becomes a different kind of pristine paradise with its epic mountains and floral displays. A bit of history, this village was famous for its talented stone masons who were even called upon by Napoleon to work for him. Below is part what I did, where I stayed and what (organic beauty) products I used:
Paris has a special place in my heart. I lived here when I was 21 for about 6 months and it was one of the best periods of my life. Every day feels like a magical experience even if you’re doing seemingly normal things like having a coffee sitting in a brasserie and people-watching. It’s undeniable that everywhere you turn the city oozes charm, breeds romance and inspires awe. It is truly the most beautiful and romantic city in the world. Below is a short (for Paris) but sweet visual diary .
Cobblestoned streets and picture perfect buildings are everywhere.
Annecy is a small town in the Southeast region of France and it’s less than an hour from Geneva. It seems like the French version of Geneva in fact because it has Lake Annecy but it’s full of cobbled streets, Savoyard charm, castles, cathedrals and canals. I visited this city for just a few hours but fell in love with its picturesque beauty so much so I had to whip up a quick impromptu post with the pictures I took. It was 90 degrees so I of course brought a few of my favorite sunscreens along with me. Below is a short visual diary of my super quick getaway.
Lausanne is a gorgeous Swiss city just 45 minutes away from Geneva, known for being a university town and home to the International Olympics Committee headquarters. It’s also a peaceful lakeside city with stunning views of the Alps. It was overcast while I was there so I couldn’t see the views in their full glory, but it was still glorious nonetheless.