Stay Over Night, Going Out, Eating in Zermatt
Even if many tourists have only one or even only half a day time for visiting Zermatt, I can only repeatedely say that Zermatt is much too beautiful and much too interesting for only a day excursion. This is why I recommend everybody to stay over night in Zermatt at least once or spend straight away a whole holiday there instead. But at least once, one should walk through the narrow alleyways in the evening and enjoy the impressive atmosphere, at least once, one should enjoy a local speciality for dinner. And maybe, one is so lucky to enjoy the Matterhorn not only in the common blue-white-grey shade but in the red sunrise. This is why I mention in the following tips and recommendations to stay over and go out in Zermatt.
Hotels and accommodations in Zermatt
In Zermatt, there are accommodations from the most simple rooms for the functional overnight stay up to the luxury suite in a five stars hotel. There is an adequate accommodation for each taste. In the winter high season, Zermatt is sometimes fully booked and it is not possible to arrive there without a previous booking. to the contrary, in the summer time, it is not a problem to find an accommodation in Zermatt at short notice; many hotels even close during the summer time for a longer time period, as the activity is not profitable.
But one has to be aware of an important fact: compared to many other places in the Alps, Zermatt is very posh and luxurious. The prices are accordingly high, no matter if for accommodation or for dinner. Those who are used to spend their holidays in typical holiday regions as Spain, Italy, France or in islands as the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands in four stars hotels, will find in Zermatt the same luxury and service already in a three star hotel.
For those guests who arrive in Zermatt without any booking, there is right at the main station a big board with each of the hotels, nicely arranged according to the category. Telephones free of charge can be used in order to ask right at the hotels for a free room and for the prices. In the toursit information office - also located right at the main station - there is also this hotel overview available with the same free of charge telephone. A fantastic service for guests!
From the main station, it is possible to get either on foot or by an electric taxi to one's hotel. The expensive hotels send their portier to the main station in order to pick up their guests right from there. There is also the possibility to be picked up at the parking place in Täsch by a taxi or a van, bur then one misses the gorgeous train journey up the hill. Moreover, the normal motorized taxi does not get one right to the hotel but only to the parking place of Zermatt, where there is then an electric taxi to take.
From the beginning, it was already certain to me that only an hotel with a straight view to the Matterhorn came into question. Still after a week, this mountain caused such a fascination in me, that I repeatedely had to gaze at it. Of course, the hoteliers are aware of this fact; this is why a room with view to the Matterhorn costs more than one that is arranged to the south, equal as in an island, a room with view to the sea is more expensive than one with a view to the street.
Also in the winter time, the view to the Matterhorn was important to me. But what is at least equally important is to be close to a funicular or a mountain railway, in order not to have to use the ski bus additionally. In the summer, this is less important, as one gets nearly form each spot of Zermatt fastly to the mountain railways.
For those who want to spend their holidays at the mountains of Zermatt but not want to spend so much money for the accommodation, I recommend to stay over night in Täsch. Then, one indeed has to get by rail up to Zermatt and down back every day, but with the money saved, not only the rail ticket but also the dinner is paid.
My hotel tip: the Seiler-Hotel Nicoletta
As already mentioned, during the search for an hotel the important thing to me was a room with a straight view to the Matterhorn. Through a special offer on the internet, we came in our first holiday in Zermatt to the Seiler-Hotel Nicoletta and were surprised in a positive way. The name Name Seiler stands in Zermatt for a fistful great hotels and for a very important name, that goes back to the origination of Zermatt in the 19th century (see Chapter on the entry page about the touristic development of Zermatt).
During our first summer holiday in Zermatt, we were so satisfied with the Hotel Nicoletta, that we also spend the following winter holiday there. In the following, there is a description and appraisal of the hotel:
General things about the hotel
The Hotel Nicoletta is situated amidst Zermatt; barely 5 minutes walk from the main station. There are only 50 m to the busy main street; it is hard for an hotel to be better located! Additionaly, 50% of the 60 rooms have a straight view to the Matterhorn. We did not only enjoy the views to the Matterhorn but specially the proximity to the main street.
What resulted to be very convenient was the fact that we had a Migors supermarket at 10 m distance of the hotel, thus at the same street. Thus, we could do some small shopping without any laborious and time wasting carrying of bags.
The four stars hotel was built in the year 1970 and since, it has been modernized several times. The Hotel Nicoletta is not the only Seiler-Hotel in Zermatt; also the famous houses Mont Cervin, Schweizerhof and Riffelalp belong to the Seiler-chain. The building has five floors, whereby in the 4th floor, there is the panorama restaurant with view to the Matterhorn as also a big piano bar with a billard table.
Kudos to one mere square metre in the hotel lobby: in a niche of a size of a telephone cabin, there is a computer with free access to the internet for the hotel guests. Thus, during our holidays, we could save the expensive fees for the interet shops that of course are also available in Zermatt.
The hotel rooms
From the total of 60 rooms in the hotel, 50% are with a view to the Matterhorn; the remaining 50% offer at least not a boring view to a patio but a wide view over the tennis courts and ice rinks and the village square of Zermatt away up to the highest mountain of Switzerland, the Dom. Therewith, from practically each hotel room one enjoys nice views, and in this concern, the hotel differs from many other hotels in Zermatt, where the buildings partly string together.
The rooms are very luxuriously arranged; I did not expect such a luxury. One sleeps in a beautiful, wide bed with a comfortable matress. There is a TV in each room with all german programs; a TV program guide is also always at the ready. There is also a longue and an extra table. Of course, a mini bar also belongs to a well arranged hotel room, and surprisingly, the prices were not that exorbitant as one is used to.
We had a little safe in our room, in which we could keep our valuable things. The use of this safe was free of charge, it could be closed and reopened by a number code that could be chosen by oneself. Fine service! Unfortunately, there are still hotels that urgently advice to lock in the valuable things, but demand a few euros per day for the use of the room safe.
Kudos also to the bath room. We found everything in apple-pie order. All utensils were available for the case we forgot something. For each guest, there was an own bathrobe and even some comfortable disposable slippers. What I found specially pleasing was that we had a good shower from which no runlet came out, but a pleasant waterjet.
Apropos water: in Zermatt, the tap water is perfect potable water. Thus, the purchase and carrying of water bottles in the supermarket can be confidently omitted.
Those who do often holidays in Switzerland know that the Swiss people have their own electricity network with different power sockets. Indeed, we had a power socket of 220 V, where german plugs can be plugged in, but due to unknown reasons, the connection only provided electricity for one minute - no problem in case of a quick shaving, but a big problem if one wanted to connect a charging device with rechargeable batteries. Thus, in any case, it is important to buy previously an adapter; I bought my one in Zermatt; a piece of gold of the same weight would probably have been cheaper...
For those who want to make their holiday in Zermatt to an unforgettable luxury holiday, I recommend a suite in the Hotel Nicoletta. Also in this case, I can only repeat: the suite in the Hotel Nicoletta beats many a suite of a five stars luxury hotel. While a separate dormitory is still standard, two bath rooms (one has even a whirl pool), a dressing room and a balcony and roof deck are already uncommonly luxurious.
The service, the hotel personnel
When we arrived to the main station of Zermatt and/or we arrived with a taxi to the car parking place of Zermatt, we were picked up by the hotel portier with his electric car and brought right to the hotel. There, we were friendly welcomed and everything was already arranged. But it was a little disappointing that the pick up service charged us 20 francs for this short stretch. I expected this to be a standard service.
The room service in our hotel was specially good. The rooms were cleaned and tidied up on a daily basis, not in a rush but thoroughly and clean. If I wrote before that in Zermatt, four stars are equal to five stars in another country, than this is the most noticeable in the room service: our rooms were made two times a day: in the evenings, the beds were opened, a white cloth was put in front of the bed and the bath room was cleaned again, for the case the guest took a bath or a shower. Also, some fresh towels can be obtained in the evening. Until then, I only experienced such a service only in five stars hotels of the typical holiday regions.
In general, kudos to the hotel personnel. I found it very nice to be friendly welcomed to the hotel when I arrived there after a hiking tour or after snowboarding and were also immediately asked how the weather and the view was, etc. Also at the bar, it was possible to have a nice talk with the staff; by this way, I could learn some things about Zermatt and about Switzerland that are not mentioned in any book or travel guide.
Eating and drinking in the hotel
If one books a room in the Hotel Nicoletta, breakfast is included. We enjoyed the breakfast every day, as each day, we were lucky and could get a seat at the window of the panorama restaurant. Thus, during breakfast, we had a wonderful view to Zermatt and to the Matterhorn. is it possible to have a better start of the day?
yes, the day can be started even better, and this is when one does not simply help oneself at the buffet, but when one gets also a fried egg with bacon freshly prepared. In general, the breakfast buffet was very rich and fresh. on the first day, one typically is spoiled for choice, one simply has to try everything and overeats.
Is it allowed at all to say something negative in case of a freshly and caringly prepared breakfast buffet? But in the mornings, I missed a triviality that was something sweet to conclude the brakfast. A little piece of cake or a sweet piece from the bakery would have put the finishing touch of the all-morning breakfast. Aftger all, there was honey and nutella as a replacement.
Concerning the dinner, during our first stay we only booked breakfast included, so that we went each evening out for dinner, during our second stay to the contrary, we had demipension included.
Each evening, the dinner in the panorama-restaurant was a highlight. In the minimum case, we got a four course menue served; but in some evenings, there were even seven courses. The food was not only excellent and brilliant but also caringly prepared and nicely presented. Thus, the sight had at least as much benefit of the food as the palate did. Once a week, there is a theme night, where there is a very special food like, for example, a French or Bavarian evening, and the complete menue is adapted to it.
Actually, the daily dinner was unsurpassable in quality and richness but despite of this, we went two times out for dinner. Why? Those who spend their holidays in a Seiler-Hotel in Zermatt have the possibility to take part in a dine-around program within the frame of the booked demipension and therewith, it is possible to dine in another restaurant of the Seiler chain instead of the usual hotel. Does it make sense, as the evening menue in the panorama restaurants represents a perfect and yummi menue?
Even if one gets a superb dinner each evening, the proceeding and the atmosphere is always the same. I do not want to say that it gets boring, but surely a kind of habit comes up. The difference is surely minimal by consuming the respective menue in another restaureant of a Seiler-Hotel. But the diversion is great if going to one of the speciality restaurants. Thus, we had a cheese fondue and a raclette in the Schwyzer Stübli as also in the Prato Borni of the Hotel Schweizer Hof, of course, each time packed into a menue of several courses. The atmosphere in this cosy cheese parlors was a complete different one as the one in the hotel restaurant and therewith, it was a nice diversion. Apart from this, for me, it is an obligation to me to have during a holiday in Switzerland at least once a cheese fondue and a raclette.
Thus, kudos to the dine-around-program, that provides diversion even for dinner. And a further kudos to the fact that if wished, one can dine completely externally and gets a certain amount of money credited for that. Therewith, I can only recommend to demihalf pension and then, if the case is given, to go spontaneously out for dinner.
After one of the many eventful days, we sometimes sat at the bar in order to have another drink. The bar is very wide and cosy. What we specially liked was having a nice view to the street and the village square. And what we liked even more was the fact that with any drink, we got something to nibble: cookies with coffee, or crisps and peanuts with beer. This is a nice way to end the day. kudos to the man at the piano, who entertained one with nice and diversified music from classic over musical up to jazz, and whose repertoire was so rich, that he could fulfill practically any wish of music.
Sports and relaxation in the hotel
Now, finally, the issue of the big advantage of the Hotel Nicoletta comes up, the point, in which this hotel differs from all the other four stars hotels of the city. Right in front of the hotel, there is the five stars Seiler-Hotel Mont Cervin; between both hotels there is a 20 x 8 m sized indoor swimming pool. What a pleasure, when one comes home and feels tired at the evening and can go swimming!
But now, it is even getting better: right beside the swimming pool, there is a wide meadow with some trees that also belong to the hotel complex. Thus, in the summer time, one can lie on a deck chair in the open air and enjoy the mountain sun. Actually, one has to go indoors in order to have a refreshment, but one has practically a full-fledged summer bath with lawn for sunbathing; this was good fun!
A nice and big sauna, as also a steam bath belong to the swimming pool area. A fitness room is also available, but who needs it, if one is during the whole day in the mountains? Anyhow, it is good to know that it is there, as there could be also bad weather during a whole day.
Those who have not enough relaxation in Zermatt and in the mountains, can get some massages and special baths. I never tried this, this is why I cannot write anything further about the wellness program in the hotel.
We had some wonderful holidays in the Hotel Nicoletta, either in the summer as also in the winter. It was a pure coincidende that we found right this hotel, but we immediately made it to our usual hotel in Zermatt. Of course, it is nice that the hotel thanks one if one returns to it: in the winter, there is a ski day together with the hotel management and a cost free lunch menue in the Riffelalp-Ressort.
The situation of the hotel, the straight view to the Matterhorn from the room and from the restaurant, the friendly personnel, the free internet connectrion and specially the big swimming pool with an open air lawn for sunbathing make the Hotel Nicoletta to me to be the number one among the four-stars hotels in Zermatt.
Going Out, Eating and Drinking in Zermatt
It is evident that in such a significant tourist place like Zermatt there is a lot of party. Countless pubs, bars and discos attract the visitor to stay. When it is really warm in the summer, of course, live takes place on the streets. Of course, this is then a highlight, if one can dine at the open air. But it is clear that on a highly located mountain village, in which the winter is longer than spring and summer time together, there are not so many restaurants with outdoor terraces.
Thus, those who want to dine at the open air better reserves a seat before. Then, a real Mediterranean atmosphere comes up, as one practically sits right at the street, on which a few electric cars are driving and can watch the people passing by. And in Zermatt, there are any kind of people walking around, starting from the heavily equipped Matterhorn-summiteer up to the backwards stumbling fotographer from Japan, each type of person is represented.
What is considered in the accommodation, is considered more than ever for eating and drinking: the prices are extremely high. A good dinner for two is nearly not available under 50 €. But therefore, one gets first class quality offered. It was the first holiday, where, any time we went outside the hotel for dinner, we never experienced a flop. The food always tasted excellent, no matter where we ate. This is why I abstain from single restaurant recommendations, as I really can recommend every restaurant at the main street.
But there is one recommendation I do want to do: a little aside from the main street, very close to our hotel, there is a restaurant named Ascot with a nice and big terrace. There, we ate two times, once freshly barbecued meat at the open air, and the other time a speciality of the house, the typical meat fondue chinoise with filmy cut pork and beef meat. What a pleasure, what a service! We could have continuing eating until exploding, as we could get all we could eat. Although we had very good food every day, this evening was the very highlight concerning food. The fondue chinoise is the best we ever ate in Switzerland; there is no other restaurant that could beat this until now.
May I mention at the end, where I most enjoyed the food? The highly located mountain restaurants in the mountains of Zermatt do not only offer a refreshment and snacks for the hikers and climbers but also spoil their guests with tasty specialities. And roughly speaking, after an exhausting hiking tour or after several sportive ski descends, a nice raclette, rösti of cheese fondue at a height of 2500 m with dream views to the four-thousander- peaks tastes better than any best prepared dinner in the valley.
And another thing: if one wants to have something quick and the budget is low, for these cases, there are numerous snack bars in Zermatt, from raclette to bratwurst, from crèpes up to mc donald's. Apropos raclette, the portions are small, very tasty and relatively cheap; it is not anything unsual to order a second or a third "load" at the restaurant.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz