Travel Guide: Zermatt, Switzerland

ZERMATT, Switzerland

The large Savanna Number 4 duffle is perfect for this alpine getaway. And don’t forget to bring plenty of cosy sweaters and your warm travel robes! 

We have tried to make a quick and agile list of our favourite places to stay, eat and have fun in this Swiss Alpine jewel in the center of Europe.

Restaurants

 

1. Whymper Stube

The perfect end to a long day of Alpine hiking, not only because it’s named after the first Englishman to climb the Matterhorn but also because the house speciality – a fondue of local mountain cheese – requires the actual stamina of a mountaineer to conquer!

2. Ross-Stall

Like the animals running free across your Very Troubled Child luggage, the meat used in the Ross-Stall’s fondue Chinoise is from free range, Swiss country-side reared animals.

3. Elsie’s Bar

While you can’t eat its caramel coloured, Valais-styled interior, Elsie’s Bar is a favourite pitstop for the palatable treats it serves in this delicious colour. Irish coffee and a grand selection of whiskeys. Oysters from Bretagne are delivered daily for the maritime inclined among us. 

4. Avena

Avena is the type of restaurant you end up at through asking a local for recommendations or because you passed by and heard people having a great time. On the menu? Classic Swiss with a twist! Curry, Thai prawns, and lots of original flavours.

5. Alex Grill

Char is an ingredient in itself and is one that ignites a wild imagination, opposite of the wistfulness brought about by the cold. From just laying eyes upon the grilled meats at Alex Grill, you’ll be guaranteeing the embers that fuel your love for Zermatt will never burn cold.

6. Le Gitan Grill

Are trendy restaurants doing your head in? Sometimes a good old bar and grill is all you need (and potato gratin of course).

7. Restaurant Le Mazot 

Good, solid bistro food that you don’t just want to take photos of but write an anthology of essays with titles such as “on charcoal grilled lamb” on.

8. Chez Heini

Good food makes people happy, superb food can cause people to get carried away. You can tell Chez Heini’s lamb is truly as spectacular as the reviews make out because of the high number of spelling mistakes written by people engulfed by passion.

9. Restaurant Spycher

Service is extra attentive at a flambé restaurant, where dishes are lit on fire at the table. And this is true for Restaurant Spycher, where “perfection” is often used to describe the dining experience as everything from start to finish is handled with precision and care.

10. Restaurant Schäferstube 

An authentic “Stübli” (living room in the mountains) and the most traditional of the restaurants in the Zermatt-based Julen hospitality group. By traditional we’re talking sheepskin, cow bells, the smell of pine, and an open-fire charcoal grill…not to mention the herd of sheep grazing the property’s grounds!

11. GramPi’s 

Your eyes start to scale the picture-filled walls like a guideless climber from the moment you pull up a chair at GramPi’s. This fun interior, coupled with the mesmerising view of the Matterhorn and scrumptious wood fired pizzas, turns even the silent-types chatty and enjoy their social duties for a change.

12. Da Nico

More traditional Italian dishes can be enjoyed here such as Saltimbocca (prosciutto wrapped veal). The tiramisu is a favorite.

13. Ristorante Capri

With a 1 Michelin star, the claim the restaurant makes of “brining the summer” to the wintery Alps through its food doesn’t raise eyebrows but glasses. A meal here is a trip to the Amalfi Coast.

14. The Omnia 

Being on “the powder” all day encourages skiers to tap into their senses. The Omnia furthers that with remaining understated in its restaurant design and its menu, focusing on the quality of ingredients. One plate of transformative tagliatelle coming right up!

Mountain restaurants

 

 Chez Vrony is perfectly located to enjoy a quick (or not so quick!) lunch on the slopes.

Chez Vrony is perfectly located to enjoy a quick (or not so quick!) lunch on the slopes.

15. Chez Vrony

Thanks to Netflix, food has become cool again, though the artistic appreciation of a chef’s surroundings has been expressed through the food of Chez Vrony for the last 100 years. Sausages and cheese from Alpine grass fed cows reward hikers who arrive at the mountain restaurant after a day of “Winterwandern”. Once down from Sunnegga, go left through the “Easy Run” piste and you will find it on the right.  

16. Findlerhof

When you’re inspired by the view, you can bet that the chefs are inspired too. Because you don’t just randomly happen into Findlerhof, the dining experience is extra thought-through and special. With so many diners here referencing “the soul” in their online reviews, it’s a “must eat at before you die” sort of place.

17. Paradies 

Park your skis and pop in for lunch. Sitting among everyone in ski gear, clinking glasses and eating good simple food, you can feel the point humankind fused nourishment with enjoyment.

18. Adler Hitta 

Just as stepping into the sauna, out of the cold, is so rewarding, so is having sparkling wine, rotisserie chicken, and looking straight onto the Matterhorn’s peak, after a morning of hiking.

19. Fluhalp 

Let’s face it, by now you realise the food in Zermatt is above average quality. Either that, or we didn’t know it before but Zermatt is a posh person’s pilgrimage to understand how to appreciate life more. Check out the boisterous people enjoying Furhalp’s live-music and you’ll understand what we mean.

20. Alphitta

The sort of place you wish you became a regular at as you truly appreciate the devotion the owners put into the place. After decades of being managed by the same family, the new managers were able to update Alphitta and still keep true to its roots.

21. Al Bosco 

What’s a pilgrimage without religious artefacts being sold along the way? Shaped like the holy Matterhorn, the pizza at Alphitta’s neighbour, Al Bosco, is a large triangle!

22. Stafelalp 

A little footnote about Zermatt’s mountain restaurants – many of them close at around 5pm. With that in mind, take your seat at the homey Stafelalp restaurant at the foothills of the Matterhorn.

23. Gandegghütte 

Bundle up with a blanket while you wait for your hot plate of Rösti – the speciality here, cooked up by Gandegghütte’s ski-instructor owners. More off the beaten track which means fewer tourists.

24. Blatten 

The sort of restaurant where you randomly pop in for coffee and cake après-ski and then throw out all your existing dinner plans and come back for a hearty dinner that’ll send you straight to sleep.

25. Zum See 

It’s no coincidence that piste sounds like food terminology. Zermatt’s food scene is as accomplished as its world-renowned ski trails. Many restaurant reviewers say they’d return to Zermatt just to eat at Zum See.

26. Chalet Etoile 

Located outside of Zermatt in Breuil-Cervinia (a resort town that shares a ski area with Zermatt), is Chalet Etoile, an Italian-Sweedish inspired kitchen that updates its dishes to cater to the times. While your dining partner licks his lips, tucking into the traditional Swedish fish soup, scoop up a piece of seared tuna with wasabi ice cream.

Hotels

 

Anna and Alberto travel to Zermatt every winter. It’s a tradition they started a few years ago, and tradition is what Zermatt’s hotels do best.

Schlosshotel's fantastic breakfast is the best way to start your day under the Matterhorn

Schlosshotel’s fantastic breakfast is the best way to start your day under the Matterhorn

1. Schloss Hotel

How can all VTC’s reviews be so favourable, you might wonder. But even if we were trying to snow sugar coat the experience of Zermatt hotels we couldn’t since service is just so excellent, everywhere. Schloss Hotel is the sort of hotel you want to know staff on a first-name basis and where, if you didn’t know before, you’ll have a revelation that Swiss hospitality is as different as with its language from its northern neighbours.

2. Romantik Hotel 

While strolling in a fairy tale town with the Matterhorn as your backdrop is romantic enough, if you want to guarantee a romantic escape then stay at the chalet-style Romantik Hotel. On top of Matterhorn-facing rooms, the fantastic food is a sure way to get to any heart.

3. The Omnia 

A modern interpretation of a traditional mountain lodge, The Omnia, designed by renowned architect Ali Tayar, is the Alpine equivalent of the organic American Northwest contemporary style. Danish modern furniture, a passion of Tayar, can be found inside.

4. Grand Hotel Zermatterhof 

Horse petting or a day at the spa – both super relaxing and super instagrammable as is the whole of this grand hotel for that matter. Built by families in Zermatt who formed a collective over 100 years ago who wanted to leave the hotel as a legacy to their descendants, they’ve not only succeeded but surpassed expectations by achieving the mountainous accolade of grand hotel.

5. Cervo 

Rent out entire chalets if travelling as a large group as you’ll have your own spa at your disposal! If a room is enough, book the Signature Spa Suite which comes with a whirlpool equipped terrace with a view of the Matterhorn.

6. Mont Cervin Palace 

Why bother mentioning the shuttle service when it’s a given for any luxe hotel? Well, at Mont Cervin Palace it’s a horse drawn carriage! If anything, take it so that your Savana Trunk set gets to ride in a fashion that befits its style.

7. Hotel Monte Rosa 

It’s not light headedness you’re experiencing on your first visit to Zermatt but a bout of cognitive dissonance. That’s because you expected this traditional, fairy tale town to be kitschy or old and stuffy like all the others. You’ll fast discover Zermatt is an exception, and that there are many pleasures to quickly rid you from your psychological discomfort.

8. Backstage Hotel 

Anything-but-compact, the Cube-Lofts at Backstage each have fireplaces and some even have Matterhorn views from the freestanding bathtub. The boutique hotel does regenerative spa experiences like no other as, with the spa tastefully themed around the Old Testament’s story of creation, you’ll literally feel reborn.

9. Le Petit Cervin 

Located right next to Mont Cervin Palace, Le Petit Cervin is named as such as it’s the larger hotel’s little brother. In contrast to the former’s alpine style, the rustic chalet style of Le Petit Cervin is ideal for sojourners in love with “themed” travel. On top of that, guests still have full access to all the amenities in the main building.

10. Hotel Firefly 

Sheepskin throws over Swiss mountain chairs (the ones with the heart cut outs), Eames style armchairs, embroidered bed linens… Design certainly is a highlight at this hotel. We think the hotel is named after the lightning bug because of how enchanting the fire that lights up the hearth is come twilight.

Mountain hotels

 

11. Riffelalp Resort 2222m 

You know those photos in luxury travel magazines of snow-covered mountains with people in infinity pools that look photoshopped into the foreground? It was probably here, at Europe’s highest wellness-centre.

12. Hotel Coeur des Alpes 

Perfectly cooked eggs and hygge is what the Hotel Coeur des Alpes serves guests. Entranced by the Alpenglow on the Matterhorn while in an outdoor hot tub next to your love – it doesn’t get more hygge than this.

13. 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat 

The Gornergrat is a ridge from which over a dozen peaks can be seen, the most famous of which are Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn, and is where Europe’s highest hotel, 3100 Kulmhotel stands.

14. Design Hotel Matterhorn FOCUS 

While luxury hotels beg you to complacently stay-in all holiday long and not leave the premise, let alone your breakfast-catered room, you’re likely not the type to idle away your days if you’re picked one of the best locations for what the Swiss call “Wandern”. With a spa, cosy rooms and direct access to hiking trails, Matterhorn FOCUS allows guests to enjoy both.

15. Parkhotel Beau Site Zermatt 

Who does dessert buffets? This hotel does, every Wednesday. On top of the classic champagne breakfasts the top-notch restaurant puts on weekend barbeques where rabbit, lamb, and more exotic meats, including wild boar and ostrich, are offered.  More experiences to tickle the sense include evening piano recitals.

16. Hotel Sonne 

The hotel that’s been in the family for generations – and we’re not just talking about its owners passing the baton from parent to child but also its guests! Great for special occasions.

Après ski and bars

1. Alex Lounge & Cocktail Bar

Single malt whiskeys, live-music every Friday in winter, and crêpes. Basically, all the things you want a bar to have minus the other things that no one orders anyway.

2. Julen Lounge Bar 

Adjacent to the Restaurant Julen, maybe you’re here to wait for your table or maybe you’ve pulled up a moo moo chair intentionally for the bar’s signature lamb sandwich.

3. Gee’s Bar & Brasserie 

Burgers, fish and chips, and other pub fare, as well as cocktails and even apfelschorle served in leaded crystal glasses. Basically, anything served here is the best tasting so-and-so someone’s ever had! Connected to Cuckoo Club (nightclub).

4. Harry’s Ski Bar 

If you’re wondering where all the people you were skiing alongside earlier have disappeared to at night, they’re all crowded together, drinking beers on the terrace outside Harry’s. Just look for the dozens of pairs of skis propped up against the wood fencing and you’ll know you’ve arrived.

5. Papperla Pub 

A pub you want to make friends in, where you order a drink not out of habit but because you’re actually parched from conversation. With a live band loved by all who visit, and a truly convivial atmosphere, Papperla Pub is après-ski in the truest sense of the word.

6. Snowboat 

Contemporary, international food and service for a change from all the rich Swiss food (not that your post-ski body is complaining). With a kids menu, Snowboat is ideal for families. Plus if you dare take on more Zermatt tips than the plenty in this VTC guide then the bartender is known to reveal an insider tip or two when the time’s right.

7. Cuckoo Club 

Disco located underneath Gee’s Bar & Brasserie. Your tasting sample would include pimped out hot dogs and a DJ who spends summers playing clubs in Ibiza. Because you don’t expect the sleepy looking town to come alive at night, the fact Zermatt has a club like this doesn’t detract from the fairytale but adds to it.

8. Broken Bar Disco 

Legendary nightclub, not just for Zermatt but the entire Swiss Alps! Locals and tourists get down underground in the catacombs each night till after 3 in the morning, keeping alive the age-old Zermattian tradition of dancing on the bar’s famous wine barrel.

9. Hennu Stall 

Remember that Alpine-style club you were in once, where dirndl and lederhosen clad party people were getting drunk and singing along to schlager music? Well, Hennu Stall is, for one, actually Alpine – if you ski down the Furi-Zermatt slope you’ll end up at it. With snow all around, your ski gear on, and warm winter drinks in hand, German party-pop music is welcomed!

10. Hexenbar 

Is it just us, or are witch-themed anythings really sweet? Ever since Wicked, the spell-casting creatures have managed to shake their 16th century stereotypes and become employable. It’s no surprise, with their potion “brewing” backgrounds, they majority are barkeeps, such as at Hexenbar. 

11. Chämi Bar – The Pollux 

Warm up with your pick from the fine selection of tea by the fireplace, or sit outside on Bahnhofstrasse, the town’s main drag, with a glass of red wine on fluffy sheepskin covered chairs as you watch other vacationers disappear into neighbouring bars for their après-ski, the prominent mountains in the background.

12. Edward’s Bar Café 

Hotel Monte Rosa’s bar cum café has the trimmings of a gentlemen’s club. Thankfully neither private nor restricted to men, Edward’s caters to all patrons equally – whether it’s a cocktail or coffee, all cravings are equal here.

13. Brown Cow Snack Bar 

Informal pub that draws a lot of tourists daily for all-day English breakfast and its choice for food (and seats) not to mention its late kitchen opening hours.

14. Champagne Bar 

You’ve never heard of anyone enjoying falling when skiing. “Smoothness” is a quality appreciated on the slopes, both of the snow and of the recreational activity associated with it. The Veuve Clicquot served at the Champagne Bar is one more smooth thing to appreciate on the slopes.