Switch mode

Precious Moments

You know the feeling you get when time seems to stand still, in the most beautiful way? That’s what arriving at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof in your horse-drawn carriage feels like. And taking a spa break while the Matterhorn teases you behind its demure curtain of clouds just might be the best possible way to experience this timeless mountain getaway.

Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Winter 2021 Precious Moments 01 DANUSER 171218174035 V193 Bearb Ecirgb

We may as well get the most shocking aspect of my stay at the Zermatterhof out of the way now: I am a Swiss National and have lived in Zurich for over 30 years, but I’ve never actually seen the Matterhorn. There, I said it. And now we can comfortably dive into one of Switzerland’s most unique alpine hotels. Or rather, into the inviting indoor pool of the Zermatterhof’s “Vita borni” Spa, where I’ll be spending most of my time as a spa expert – and Matterhorn novice.

Diving into history, the zermatt way

Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Winter 2021 Precious Moments 05 IMG 8256 Ecirgb T210

Having just been named “Hotel of the Year 2021” by Karl Wild of the renowned Swiss Hotel Ranking, the Zermatterhof quietly resides in the middle of town, right next to the beautiful church and just a stone’s throw away from the main, pedestrian-only street. Built in 1876, during Zermatt’s very first Renaissance as a hotspot for “summering” Europeans, the Zermatterhof immediately became the biggest hotel in town, with a (for the time) mind-boggling 94 rooms.

In the past 140 years, it has lost nothing of its luxurious comfort, all while keeping its historic décor and charm. Knowing this, I’m not surprised by the warm greeting as we disembark from the horse-drawn carriage that picked us up at the train station, a mere five minutes away. I am surprised, though, at how quiet and serene the small square in front of the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof is. But this will soon change, as the sun is coming out and travellers will be arriving by train quite soon, most of them dressed in their finest mountaineering gear and ready to conquer Switzerland’s most iconic mountain peak. My friend and I have left our hiking boots at home, though.

There simply won’t be enough time for adrenaline and rock dust: We’ve not only got spa treatments booked, but are expected to arrive for dinner at “Loti”, one of the two Zermatterhof restaurants at 7 PM sharp. My husband would argue that I’m simply making excuses to avoid a probable near-death experience on the mountain, but I take my job as a beauty journalist quite seriously and need to be well-rested and prepared to take in all that this historic hotel has to offer.

Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Winter 2021 Precious Moments 04 Laura Chouette Uyrwacdahlu Unsplash Bearb Sw

Thanks to my job, I’m no stranger to beautiful spas, but I’ll admit something here that may surprise you: I’ve discovered that neither size nor high-tech treatment rooms define whether you feel at home there or not. The “Vita borni” spa, located on the lower level of the hotel with a small, yet lovely outdoor sun area, may not be the largest mountain spa, but it is immediately, wonderfully inviting. The name, which means “life from the source” connects pureness of the surrounding mountains with the healing power of water, both hot and cold.

My girlfriend and I are immediately whisked away into our respective treatment rooms to enjoy a full-body massage, and a 90-minute facial, respectively. I don’t want to spoil things for you, but please do read up on my “signature treatment” tips! My favorite detail was certainly discovering “Matterhorn Swiss Mineral Cosmetics”. This small Zermatt-based brand creates natural, beautifully formulated skincare products using actual mineral particles made from finely-ground Matterhorn rocks, which are rich in minerals and trace elements like silicium, calcium and magnesium – that are fabulous for the skin. They then add local plant extracts, such as Edelweiss, alpine rose and mountain pine, all sourced sustainably.

Needless to say, my one single souvenir from Zermatt was not a snow globe or fun T-shirt, but the gorgeous Matterhorn Peeling Mask! Wonderfully relaxed, we meet back up in the serene relaxation room, and then proceed to take full advantage of being in the spa at dinner time. From the steam bath to the sauna, a jump into the ice grotto and then back to the pool for a few minutes of swimming – and not another hotel guest in sight, except for Spa manager Linda quietly tidying up. We linger until the last possible minute before running up to our beautiful corner suite with two balconies and a view of the Matterhorn, which kept itself shrouded in clouds during our entire visit, as if to make sure we’d be back to see it in its full glory soon.

Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Winter 2021 Precious Moments 03 Noah Usry Cojuqf 9GT0 Unsplash (1) Bearb Ecirgb
Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Winter 2021 Precious Moments 02 Spa Sauna Bearb Ecirgb

As a Zermatt first-timer, I was truly surprised that a small alpine village that is so famous could retain so much charm, despite the thousands of tourists that visit daily. And it was the small things, like the twice-daily herd of goats that are ushered through town, bells happily clanging, or the pleasure of hearing the local Alphorn quartet practice their afternoon set in a quiet back alley. Being Swiss, part of me wanted to resist its charm, but after a glass of ice-cold Champagne at the Zermatterhof’s lovely outdoor bar, I gave in. And enjoyed myself thoroughly enough that I swore that I’d see the famed mountain peak during my next visit. In the meantime, its image on a bar of Toblerone will suffice, especially when a frothy cappuccino is involved. Thank you for a wonderful stay, Grand Hotel Zermatterhof!

Words Steffi Hidber

Related Stories

A giant mythological creature, fish in beeswax and fluffy dog beds: at The Alpina Gstaad luxury hotel, animals play more than just an insignificant supporting role. Nevertheless, they also need to be able to behave appropriately, as author Titus Arnu found out during his stay as a guest in Gstaad with his Labrador Oskar.

Discover more

The engine is running as the anticipation rises. Our upcoming road trip takes us on the Ruta Cumpleta, the most comprehensive tour of the Alpine Circle, over the most scenic roads through the cantons of Graubünden and Ticino. Join us on a journey crossing grandiose passes while stopping at magnificent hotels and restaurants.

Discover more

Whether seeking Alpine adventures, culinary delights, or simply looking to dive into Switzerland’s inspired natural beauty, the Engadin has it all. With its stunning landscapes, pristine lakes, and charming villages, it’s no wonder the region consistently ranks as a top destination for travellers seeking unforgettable experiences.

Discover more

Tartare in the bowl, non-alcoholic dog vodka, and Basler Leckerli treats galore: at the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois, our columnist’s black Labrador enjoys five-star service fit for a king.

Discover more

A colourful evening with fondue, fun and friends in the company of a colour-blind Labrador: despite this apparent contradiction, we spend a delightful time at the ultra-stylish Carlton Hotel in St. Moritz.

Discover more

A welcome refuge from Zurich’s hustle and bustle and the arctic chill voutside, I didn’t exactly expect a female DJ when I first checked into the cool, calm and collected La Réserve Eden Au Lac. No big logos or signs announce the imaginary yacht club entirely designed by Philippe Starck. In the designer’s own words, ‘This hotel is like rock ‘n’ rolling with the Queen of England; everything is traditional yet resolutely unconventional.’ I was immediately intrigued to find out more.

Discover more

The perfect destination for an urban art safari à pied, Switzerland’s largest city and cultural epicentre beckons art enthusiasts from near and far with its miscellany of world-renowned galleries, public art installations, pop-ups and the country’s largest art museum.

Discover more