Today is the day I finally get to share with you about how 2017 ended for us. If I told you we spent a couple days of our holidays bathing in Europe’s highest outdoor pool, surrounded by snow, would you believe me? And what if the pool had a direct view of the Matterhorn, one of Switzerland’s most famous mountain peaks?
Thanks to the historic and recently completely renovated Riffelalp Resort in Zermatt, Switzerland we could enjoy some of the best things about Switzerland. I was able to surprise my husband at the end of his last semester of university, with this unforgettable holiday getaway in the Swiss Alps.
While 2017 had its pretty major ups and downs, our couple of days on Riffelalp were a gift of time and beauty. Definitely, it’s safe to say the year ended on a high. 2,222 meters (over 7,000 feet) high, to be exact at Europe’s highest 5 star hotel!
My only complaint is it’s impossible to do the resort justice in either word or photograph. Photographs will mostly have to do because I’m going to quickly run out of adjectives or find myself using way too many exclamation marks.
Arriving to Riffelalp Resort
Greeted by a friendly luggage courier at the train station in Zermatt, Switzerland, we were given tickets for the mountain climbing train called the Gornergrat Bahn.
Believe me when I say, as we took the Gornergrat up the mountain from Zermatt, our excitement escalated with every meter it climbed. The view from both sides of the window kept me hopping from this side to that side. First looking down on the village of Zermatt nestled in snow like a magazine picture, then face to face with frozen waterfalls. And then up, up and we were in the mountains, more than I ever was in the mountains before.
Stepping off at the Riffelalp station and following the path through the trees to Riffelalp Resort, it felt like with every step we were stepping further away from life’s tough realities and into nature’s retreat.
Our very own room
Another friendly person checked us in and personally showed us to our room where our luggage had already been delivered. The best thing about the rooms in this hotel, are their cabin vibe. Every modern comfort is within your reach, but the history and cabin-in-the-woods-feeling is preserved.
I lied. The best thing about the room was the coffee maker and endless supply of coffee. I maxed out my coffee intake while there.
Not a coffeedrinker, Ber’s favorite thing was the stereo system in the bathroom. Laying on the bed one evening, I heard him jamming in the shower to Christmas songs like I’d never heard him or anyone else jam in the shower before. The room was fit for luxury mountain-dwellers, but the bathroom was fit for a king. A huge shower, separate bathtub, and yes, the surround sound speakers for jam sessions.
As we stepped out on our balcony, this is what we saw. In fact, we didn’t even need to step out to see it. We could push a button to open what I liked to call the “stage curtains” and lay there watching the sun come up over the Matterhorn. There’s nothing to describe this level of beauty.
Breakfast and Dining
There was a large selection for breakfast. One would need to stay for weeks to try everything. It was fresh (not a small feat when you’re in the mountains where food must be delivered by train or helicopter!), and the dining room was beautiful as was the food itself. I was so glad I decided to ask for french toast, if only because of the colorful garnish.
Let’s all take a moment to marvel that almost no matter where you are at the Riffelalp Resort, you can glance up and see the Matterhorn! It adds a priceless element to the experience and I could not stop taking pictures of all the ways the light through out the day was highlighting another element of its beauty. I’m a fan for life.
There are three restaurants on site. Restaurant Alexandre, Gourmet food and elegant dining; The Italian Ristorante Al Bosco; and Restaurant Walliserkeller where we ourselves enjoyed fabulous Swiss dining. Our choice was the cheese fondue accompanied by a glass of Swiss chardonnay. For dessert, chocolate fondue made of Toblerone chocolate, which has something in common with Riffelalp Resort by the way: a view of the Matterhorn!
St. Trop Spa and THE Pool
Like many five stars the resort is outfitted for swimming, massage, and sauna. Unlike other five stars, Riffelalp Resort boasts Europe’s highest outdoor pool, heated in winter and surrounded by snow. While the spectacular view of the Matterhorn is definitely a main attraction for staying on Riffelalp, the pool has got to be a close second. It would not, however, be so amazing without the Matterhorn. Though I dare to say the Matterhorn would not be so amazing without THIS POOL! Let’s get into the warm water now and go for a swim…
Indoors there is another large pool and multiple saunas including organic and Finnish. We especially enjoyed the cave for two where you follow stone steps down into a cave where there’s both a jacuzzi and a sauna. Spa and beauty treatments are also available, as well as complimentary fruit, fruit juices, and tea as refreshment.
Lobby and Lounges
For all the feels of a cozy mountain chalet, one could visit The Bar and enjoy drinks by the fire, live music, and a card game.
I joked that the beautiful lighting in the smoke lounge (pictured above) almost made me want to be a smoker to sit in there and soak it up. In addition to these, there is also the Wine Cellar and the Mark Twain Lounge, which was named for the famous author thought to have climbed Riffelalp himself before writing a travel report called, The Tramp Abroad.
Sheep, sheep, and more sheep. Much to the delight of my ever-sheep-loving heart these animals were all over the place. I even began counting them, but lost count at 50. If I were to decorate a hotel I would also want so many sheep all around. The assistant director described to us the day they were loaded off the truck during the renovation and her amazement and confusion as to what one could possibly do with so many sheep. But she admitted, they and the real sheep which show up outside during the warmer months, are an adorable and much loved trademark of the Riffelalp Resort.
Skiing is the most popular activity at the Riffelalp Resort, which is offically a ski-in-ski-out accommodation. Not only can you buy your ski passes and rent your skis from there, but you can also ski all the way down from the hotel, down to the village of Zermatt. We enjoyed exploring the two chapels and the rest of the grounds. And, believe it or not I also put on a pair of skis for the very first time in my life!
Maybe there’s already enough here that makes you dream of your own holiday getaway at the Riffelalp Resort. To be honest, there’s only so much that Ber and I can say about it having been there only a couple of days. What speaks much louder is that many people come here year after year, often bringing the entire family with them. While we can attest it’s worth going once for a once-in-a-lifetime jaw-dropping experience, some are able to go anywhere in the world they choose to, and they return here time and time again. This is not only a compliment to the natural beauty of the location, but a huge compliment to the staff who has cultured an atmosphere of friendliness, down-to-earth hospitality, and personal connection. We heard people greeting each other over breakfast as old friends, and even members of the staff greeting guests they more than remembered from previous years. It was the kind of warm hospitality it’s hard to put a price to.
If you’re going to tuck yourself away on a mountain and away from society for a little bit, there’s no better place than Riffelalp Resort, 2222 m, Zermatt, Switzerland. Ber and I definitely think of it as an experience rather than just a hotel stay, and we’re grateful for the memories. Hopefully you could experience it a bit as well through these pictures.
If you would like more information or to book your own stay, you can visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram. I also have shared more pictures of our stay there on my Instagram which you can find here.
I would like to thank the Riffelalp Resort for their invitation in exchange for this review. As always, the thoughts and opinions are my own and I’m happy to talk more with anyone about our personal experience there! The pictures are taken by me, with the exceptions of the ones of me which were taken by my faithful sidekick, Ber, and the picture of us in the cheese cellar, which was taken by a friendly waiter.
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