Zermatt , Switzerland
Zermatt is an uber-fashionable Swiss resort highly popular with both the British and international markets. Dominated by the magnificent Matterhorn Mountain, Zermatt is able to combine great skiing with an attractive, lively village and stunning scenery.
Zermatt was first made popular by the British mountaineering fraternity of the late Eighteenth Century and like Chamonix, another popular destination of the era, the architecture of the resort owes much to that age. Many of the best and largest hotels in Zermatt were first built well over a hundred years ago so there is an overwhelming feeling of heritage and history attached to Zermatt.
As this resort was initially developed with hotel accommodation the private and holiday rental chalets that have all been built during the last 30 years are generally not centrally located. Instead these are found in the more out lying elevated areas such as Winkelmatten. Whereas these luxury chalets are situated some way from the centre they do give guests some spectacular views over the resort, and in many cases also towards the iconic Matterhorn Mountain.
Although the resort is car free, it is not a quiet rustic village such as Wengen or Saas Fee (in the neighbouring valley). Zermatt is big business and the class, glamour and quality all hit you as soon as you step off the train (the resort can only be accessed by train from Tasch). There is no doubt that Zermatt is a ski resort that is best appreciated when done in style. So try not to worry about the credit card bill - just soak up the atmosphere, jump in to the stylish lifestyle and enjoy.
Guests return year after year to enjoy the wonderful scenery and the excellent skiing which covers three major ski areas. With over 200km of piste to choose from and peak elevation of 3,820 metres, Zermatt offers expansive and snow-sure skiing throughout the season. However, it is the fabulous on-mountain dining that really draws people back. There are many books and guides devoted to the on-slope restaurants and mountain hut eateries of Zermatt. The list of famous places to eat is long and distinguished - many argue that this Swiss resort offers the best on-mountain dining experiences of the World and we are not going to disagree.
This website hosts a fantastic collection of luxury properties in Zermatt but to see a much wider range of more affordable Zermatt chalets please see the collection of properties on our sister website, Alpine Answers.
Pros & Cons
- Amazing high Alpine scenery - as beautiful mountains go the Matterhorn is very hard to beat.
- Totally charming car free resort town with a superb selection of shops, bars, restaurants etc.
- The best mountain restaurants of any resort and varied nightlife to suit any taste.
- High altitude snow sure skiing that links with Cervinia (Italy).
- Zermatt hotels, are by far some of the best out there - as are the 80 plus chalets in Zermatt
- Not suitable for beginners - too much travelling about the resort and no good beginner areas.
- Ski areas (Gornergrat, Sunegga and Klein Matterhorn) could be better linked.
- Expensive lift pass. Some hotels in Zermatt, bars and restaurants are expensive too. Choose wisely.
- Ski lifts are located on the edge of the large resort town - accessed by bus or long walk.
As you can imagine a resort as large and developed as Zermatt has a staggering choice of restaurants so it would most definitely be advisable to eat out a couple of times from your accommodation. Zermatt has it all, from international haute cuisine to McDonalds. Try Moods (for fish), Rua Thai (for Thai!), Chez Heini (for traditional food and a good sing-along), Giuseppe's (for Italian - booking a must), Avena and the Pipe (for curry), The Old Spaghetti Factory (part of the Hotel Post set up). Many Zermatt hotels have wonderful restaurants such as the Monte Rosa and the Hotel Julen - these are expensive but offer delicious food as well as a great sense of occasion. Recommendation from a client (Jan 2011): Dan Daniell - An excellent restaurant and the lamb themed menu is a real refreshing change from the standard pizza and pasta menus. Word of warning ... not one for vegetarians. The decor is stuffed Alpine animals (shot by the chef's dad) and there is one vegetarian option on the menu ... fish! Whymper Stube - an authentic and good quality food. Just a little small and a strong smell of raclette throughout! Our tip is however, the Heimberg restaurant. A 200 year old wooden house that marries genuine alpine ambience with contemporary feel-good design.
Zermatt has without any doubt the best mountain restaurants in the World. Of course they offer good food, wine and service but it is the special atmosphere of the hut-based venues that is impossible to match. Many go to Zermatt just to visit Franz & Heidy's (Findlerhof) or Chez Vrony - booking a table is a must (your hotels in Zermatt should be able to do this for you). Other places of note are Paradies, the Tuftern hut (simple but great views from the terrace) and Enzian. At Furi (Klein Matterhorn side) the restaurant Furri and Simi's are both good and further down the run to resort Zum See is charming and some say offers the best mountain food in the resort. There are too many other great places to mention here - we suggest that you make your own tour of the slopes and stop at any restaurant you can find - you will not be disappointed and will have the fun of skiing around discovering your own favourite places before returning to your Zermatt hotels. Recommendation from a client (Jan 2011): We really enjoyed the restaurant at the Gandegghutte (no mains electricity or water but really decent hearty food). Slight up-hill push to get over to the restaurant but well worth it. Chalet Etoile - Plan Maison (Cervinia). Predictably pasta is on the menu here but it is really high quality pasta. Also priced in euros with the house red at 15 euros per bottle which is nice!
There are a few great apres ski resorts in the Alps; Cortina, St Anton, Verbier and Ischgl are a few. However, Zermatt is as good as any of them. Below Furi there are several bars on the slope side that are great fun. The Hennu Stall blasts out loud music and raises the tempo - beers and toffee vodka here will set you up for the run back down to the resort and back to your hotel. Zermatt's Othmar's Hutte organises dinners followed by tobogganing and the Olympia Stubli has live music. For those staying in a chalet or hotels in Zermatt's Winkelmatten area the Sonnblick is recommended. In town the Paperla, Elsie's (for a slightly older crowd), Pipe bar and North Wall are the most popular pre dinner venues.
There is a wealth of choice when it comes to deciding where to go in the evening. Zermatt hotels often are a good place to start. The Hotel Post complex caters for most with a quiet bar (Papa Caesar's), a disco (the Broken) and live music upstairs at Pinks. The Hotel Alex's bar draws in an older crowd and the trendy urbanites head for the modern Vernissage a bar with a difference (a fabulous art gallery, cinema and music room) where you can have a cocktail or three or Moods - run by the old team from the Post Hotel. Zermatt's Hotel Pollux has lively music and most UK chalet staff either hang out at the North Wall or the Pipe Bar.
- Cable Car
- Chair lift
- Drag lift