"If it's not too unseemly, I'd like to gush a little. It was sensational in every way - the taste of the food and wine, the sight of the Matterhorn, the smell of a wood-burning stove. My previous best ever Saturday lunch took place about three years ago and involved Michelin stars, so congratulations for knocking that off its perch. Fabulous. Here endeth the gush."
Spacious, contemporary, wittily-designed loft apartment
Low season: from CHF 21,500 catered/CHF 16,000 self-catered; Mid: CHF 23,500/CHF 18,000; Peak: CHF 33,000 catered only
Summer: from CHF 5,200 to CHF 5,800 per week self-catered
The Lodge is a stunning, luxury penthouse that is exceptionally stylish and contemporary. It is run by an excellent chef/manager couple, so the food is out of this world and the service is really top-notch. A great place for a big group.
Witty ‘modern Alpine’ in style. Ultra modern exterior, with rustic exposed beams and old wood floors indoors. There are stainless steel appliances in this luxury chalet apartment, giant plate glass windows and dramatically suspended wood-burning fireplace in the huge living area with the dining area off it. Quirky finishings too, including cow skin-covered stools around the fire, unusual metal lamp shades and upside down walking canes used as coat hooks.
The rooms are gorgeous, all large, tucked away under the eaves (but with enough room for tall folk to stand) and hugely stylish. They are neutral in tone, with snowy white linen, bleached wooden beams and dark stone bathroom appliances. Toiletries are supplied by the spa specialists, Elemis. There are five double bedrooms, four of which can be configured as twins. Each has its own LCD flat screen cable TV and DVD player, plus open plan en-suite bathroom (yes, you need to be friends) with either modern bath tub or a massage shower with rainforest shower head. Loos, fortunately, are separate. The master bedroom, with its separate shower room, corner bath tub and toasty fire stove, is the most plush.
Gourmet meals are served six nights a week at this fully catered ski chalet, as well as the usual full English breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner. The Lodge uses lots of local produce, such as Zermatt’s famous local lamb and various cheeses and yoghurts that are made in the village. Down the valley in the Valais region there is a veritable market garden of fruit and veg too, all of which the chef uses. Even grapes are grown locally wherever possible (one of the world’s highest vineyards produces a fine wine which is served in the chalet), so the emphasis is very much on local stuff.
That said, The Lodge can access just about anything. Dinners are genuinely divine, belt-busting and pretty fancy, with choices for each course ranging from foie gras parfait with black truffle and fig preserve to salmon tartare, pumpernickel, smoked salmon and caviar for starters; followed by flash roasted lamb fillet with nutmeg mashed potatoes and sautéed girolles or roasted sea bass with lobster risotto and bisque butter sauce for mains. When I stayed, even the teas and coffees afterwards came with chocolates, dammit.
As for the wines, once again the focus is refreshingly on local bottles. The cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Valais have many small and passionate winemakers and The Lodge has a specially chosen selection of the finest Swiss whites – Swiss whites are, in fact, award-winning and world class, but the world just doesn’t seem to know it yet. These include a Chardonnay AOC Lully 1er Cru Fut de Chêne 2006, which is not available through wine merchants, and a Heida 2007, the Heida grape being grown most locally to Zermatt, above the town of Visp. The reds include a Pinot Noir Promesse AOC 2007 from Sion in the Valais.
The Lodge has its own sauna and hot tub on the balcony, complete with unbeatable views of the Matterhorn. A therapist can be arranged to lay on a whole menu of beauty treatments and massages, as an extra service.
The chalet can organise quality child care, from nannies to babysitters, as well as arranging high chairs and baby cots. There is no minimum age. The ski school in Zermatt also offers excellent programmes for children aged 6-12, as well as a special group for teenagers. For little ones aged 4-5, Zermatt also has Snowli Kids Village Riffelberg with fairy-tale figures, magic carpets, a merry-go-round and children’s lift.
The views – and the suspended fireplace.
The fact that The Lodge is located in a rather non-descript block, rather than a stand-alone chalet. Once inside it’s lovely, however.
This Zermatt chalet occupies the whole top floor of a new-build chalet that has genuinely fantastic views of the iconic Matterhorn (which is also visible from the outdoor south-facing hot tub). It is close to the main street, too, and just a five minute walk (in ski boots) to the Sunnegga Express lift station.
The nearest airport is Geneva, although this is a four hour train ride or 3hrs 30mins drive away. The Lodge can organise airport pick-ups by taxi, minibus or helicopter (all of which cost extra), but a lovely way to arrive in car-free Zermatt is by train, because the journey has such breath-taking views. From Geneva (where the train departs from right beside the airport), you’ll need to change trains once, but the quickest route is often to change twice (journey times vary from 3hr 38min to 4hr 07min).
Once you arrive in Zermatt a representative from the chalet will meet you and escort you to your chalet, either by foot (with a cart and porter to take the luggage) or in one of the resort’s electric taxis.