I'm struggling for choices of hostel accommodation in Geneva first weekend of December. between hostel world, hostel bookers, YHA and Hi hostels there are only four options under (only just under) £30 per person per night. Is that just the going rate for Geneva - surely there must be more than four options.
30 Pounds are just 38 Swiss Franks. This isn't really a lot of money in Switzerland, so I don't think you will find anything that is really a lot of cheaper. Additionally, Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in Switzerland if not in the whole World.
To make it worse, Geneva is the domicile of a lot of big organizations like for example UN, CERN, ICRC, WHO, IAO, ISO, ITU, WIPO, WMO, WOSM, WTO or UNHCR. That's why the living costs as well as the accommodation costs are exploding.
So in my opinion you should be happy with your 4 affordable hostels.
When I was traveling in Switzerland and wanted to see Geneva, I would actually stay at a small hotel in Lausanne, some 45 minutes away, but along the main railroad line. At a much lower rate than Geneva itself.
Geneva is a "destination," city, hence expensive. Anything "outside" of it would be far cheaper. But Switzerland is a small country, so "outside" of Geneva is a "commute" by say, American standards.
Geneva is one of Europe's most expensive cities. In addition, it is not a backpacker destination.
All in all, 30 GBP per night (or possibly a bit more in 2014) is a quite decent price for accommodation in Geneva. You should also be aware that there can be quite a bit of price fluctuation, according to events taking place in Geneva.
You can extend your search to places in nearby France, such as Ferney-Voltaire or Annemasse. These places are linked to Geneva by the urban buses:
F for Ferney-Voltaire,
61 for Annemasse. The caveat is that you will have to pay for these buses. On the other hand, if you stay in a hotel or hostel in Geneva, you are entitled to free public transport in Geneva. That's something you have to consider in your calculations. Schedules and fares are available via the TPG and Unireso websites.
Staying somewhere else in Switzerland (e.g. Lausanne) and commuting to Geneva, as mentioned by Tom Au is a bad idea. Prices are probably a bit lower elsewhere and there may be some more choice. However, standard train fares in Switzerland can be prohibitive. The situation is different if you have an Interrail or Eurail Pass.