The village of Zermatt has the privilege of being situated on the foot of the world's most photographed mountain, the Matterhorn.
What many people do not know is that the Matterhorn has two faces along with its two names. The Swiss side has the more recognizable face, while the Italian Cervino looks... well... ugly.
Why Zermatt surprises
With its recent building boom, every developer in Zermatt is trying to secure the best views of the Matterhorn. However, many of the more established places already have the best view of the peak. That said, there is more to Zermatt than just the one mountain.
Those familiar with the Swiss alps either for hiking or skiing in days of yore will remember the fondue, the raclette and the Älplermagronen - stodgy, cheesy dishes fit for an alpine farmer but lacking on culinary finesse.
While you will still find traditional restaurants serving these favorites, Zermatt will surely surprise you. Go out on the slopes, and you will be drinking Champagne and eating caviar. Or, at the very least, enjoy premium steaks and summer truffle pasta.
Indeed, Zermatt has turned into an Epicurean's heaven!
A great way to taste your way around Zermatt is by taking part in the Kitchen Around Dining Tour. It turns your dinner into an experience.
Enjoy a three-course meal behind the scenes in the kitchens of some of Zermatt’s finest hotels and see where the magic happens. Along the way, you will also collect small gifts to take home. Kitchen Around is a fantastic gift for the foodie among your friends!
The Chalet Hotel Schönegg
And those wanting a hotel that combines the best of Zermatt, look no further than the Chalet Hotel Schönegg. This Relais & Château hotel is ideally situated on the Eastern slope of the Niklaus Valley, offering unobstructed views of the Matterhorn from its gorgeous terrace.
You will get picked up by one of the hotel's electric vehicles at the Zermatt train station and brought to the hotel. There, you will most likely be greeted by either Anna or Sebastian Metry, the brother and sister team leading the hotel in the third generation.
With its theme of "Wine, Dine, View," the Chalet Hotel Schönegg does not disappoint on any level. The dining room offers a traditional feeling with professional service. Large windows look out across Zermatt and, of course, onto the Matterhorn.
The views do not disappoint – and neither does the extensive wine list
Why not stick with Swiss wines or ask for a recommendation? Wine writers like Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson will be some of the first to praise Swiss wine and lament that the best wines are hard to find outside of Switzerland. I will go one further and say great ones are hard to find - period.
However, a few select restaurants and hotels like the Chalet Hotel Schönegg have made it their goal to curate the best Swiss wines, and they do not disappoint.
For our four-course gourmet dinner prepared with fresh local produce and meats, I choose a traditional Valais grape: Cornalin. Knowing that I am into wine, Sebastian Metry offers me a taste of something special, though: the ValCino, which is only available in four restaurants.
ValCino blends together the best of the Valais with one of our other favorite destinations: Ticino. The wine was produced by two friends, Ludovic Zermatten (Cave Renaissance) and David Delea (Cave Delea), and it consists of 50 percent Cornalin from the Valais and 50 percent Merlot from Ticino. Both grapes are vinified separately and aged for 22 months in barrique, after which they are married and bottled.
A spa with views to die for
After a day of intense hiking or skiing, there is nothing better than relaxing in a hot tub. Even the spa area of the Chalet Hotel Schönegg offers beautiful views of the Matterhorn!
Unfortunately, our day of hiking was cut short by rain. Consequently, the Matterhorn had gone into hiding as it was blanketed with clouds. But then, while relaxing in the hot tub, the clouds slowly slip away. Out comes an impressive sunset illuminating the valley with hues of orange, yellow and pink. Mother nature’s cinema from the comfort of a hot tub: perfect.
Hiking to the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge
The next morning, we are greeted by crystal-clear skies and a full buffet breakfast. With a slight chill in the air, we decide to eat inside and look at the Matterhorn from there.
With so many possible hikes to take, we can barely make up our minds. So, we call in the expert: Anna Metry gives us several suggestions for possible day hikes that will allow us to catch the train back to Zurich in the evening.
In the end, we hike to the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge - the longest of its kind in the world - and leave the views of the Matterhorn behind us. That's until our next visit to Zermatt!
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