Not just for skiing, Andermatt’s picture-perfect setting makes it a luxury summer haven, too.
Words Hannah Hopkins
From the Swiss Alps, perfect for skiing, to the acres of green space for a long summer hike, the gorgeous village of Andermatt makes the perfect weekend break, sun or snow. Small enough to get around on foot and large enough to keep you interested, it has all the charm and beauty that you’d expect from a historic Swiss village.
Located in the midst of the Urseren Valley, at the foot of Gotthard Pass, Andermatt has been given something of a luxe-over since 2013. Central to this was the opening of The Chedi Andermatt – a milestone in the development of the resort and now a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. A spectacular combination of apartments, chalets, hotels and leisure facilities, with skiing on its doorstep and world-class service, the hotel and its under-the-radar destination won’t stay secret for long.
Inspired by the chalets and grand hotels of the past, the front of the five-star Chedi mirrors a traditional wooden chalet, with subtle injections of modern features. Designer Jean-Michel Gathy had the tricky task of balancing the signature Asian style of the Chedi hotels with Alpine chic, but he’s managed to pull it off with aplomb, creating a space that’s natural, grounded and stylish – think large fireplaces, wood panelling and terraces that blend indoor and outdoor spaces together.
We stay in a Junior Deluxe Suite with a balcony, lounge, bedroom and bathroom, but all the rooms or suites are a spacious 52-55 square metres in area – giving you plenty of privacy and living space. There’s a romantic mood to the rooms, with dark Alpine wood, soft leather chairs, bronze lamps and fireplaces. The TVs, temperature, blackout blinds, lights and even the do-not-disturb sign can be controlled via an iPad and the handmade Hastens bed (worth about 50,000 Euros) are the same beds the king and queen of Sweden use.
Most wow-worthy are the bathrooms, which come with heated stone floors, rain showers and a huge bathtub. Wrapped up in cosy robes, sipping red wine on our mountain-view balcony and breathing in the fresh Swiss air, is a real treat.
Early mornings are ideal for hiking or biking the signature mountain trails. We venture up an easy route but naturally go off piste and end up on a slightly tougher medium route. Despite not being prepared with hiking boots – a rookie error – we manage to get high up the mountain, where we’re rewarded with Sound of Music-style views – wildflowers, snow-capped peaks and all. Of course, it’s not all about hiking and skiing in Andermatt – the 18-hole Andermatt Swiss Alps Golf Course located in the beautiful Urseren Valley between Andermatt and Hospental is also the perfect summer activity.
Back at the hotel we dine at the Chedi Restaurant, which showcases not one but four open kitchens specialising in cold cuts, desserts, Western and Asian Cuisine. Surrounded by exquisite aromas, it’s fun to watch the food being prepared directly and freshly in front of you. A particular highlight in The Restaurant is The Wine and Cheese Cellar: at five metres high it attracts cheese connoisseurs who marvel at its delights through the glass walls – you can pop in anytime to sample the huge variety of cheeses.
Also very popular (and one of the top-rated restaurants in Andermatt) is the hotel’s Japanese Restaurant, which has just been awarded its first Michelin Star. It seats just forty-six guests, either at the open Sushi and Sashimi Bar or the Tempura and Teppanyaki Bar. Venture into Andermatt itself for dinner and you can eat onion soup and pappardelle with rabbit ragu at Italian Baeren or go traditional Swiss with fondue and raclette at Gasthaus zum Sternen.
After a smorgasbord of culinary delights at breakfast the next morning, we spend our final day sunbathing in luxurious surroundings by the Gemsstock Mountain, where as well as an indoor and outdoor pool (heated to a bathwater-style 30 degrees), there are bath towels, sun cream, beauty products, reading materials and light refreshments on tap. We visit the spa to try the classic full-body massage, designed to target the most overworked areas of your body.
You can choose from a range of Alpienne-branded therapeutic products to deepen the massage’s efficacy, we opt for Propolis Massage Milk – ideal for dry skin. A trip to the Finnish sauna and hammam rounds off a blissful weekend nicely.
As we wait to pick up the Bernina Express back to Zurich, we devour Swiss meat & cheese sandwiches and sip Aperol Spritz at a local cafe. With the sun beaming down and the snow-capped mountains surrounding us, it’s a reminder that the simplest things in life are often the best.