London to Zürich
In January 2022 shortly after celebrating New Years in London, we decided we weren’t ready to go home yet. Quite spontaneously we settled on Switzerland, unsure of what exactly our trip would entail but with picturesque quaint snow covered villages in mind. So we booked a flight to Zürich.
Without solid plans in place we scoped out some hotels in the few days prior to departure, with the help of Leading Hotels of the World, a hotel collection organization we have built a relationship over the past 6 years we’ve been traveling as content creators. We also had a little luck on our side that we were traveling during a post-New Years lull in the ski season.
And thus our Swiss adventure began with a flight from Heathrow to Zürich.
Train to Zermatt was booked. Two Zermatt hotels agreed to host us. We were on the plane. The enthusiasm levels were high.
Zürich to Zermatt
Upon landing in Zürich we promptly missed the train we had booked from Zürich to Zermatt due to a fatal combination of booking a departure from the incorrect Zürich train station and getting lost trying to find the correct one. Missing our ideal train meant following a train itinerary that had lots of wait time between connections. We spent an hour in Visp, a mountain town en route to Zermatt, just as it began to snow. We were freezing and exhausted but enthusiasm levels were unwavering.
Approximately 12 hours later, around 10pm, we arrived in Zermatt.
First stop: Zermatt Village
Turns out Zermatt is the dreamy mountain village we imagined when we pictured a winter trip to Switzerland. It’s located in the southwest and it’s home to one of the most beautiful alpine scenery in Europe, with the Matterhorn being front and center of the skyline from almost every location. The Matterhorn in all its glory is the single most photographed mountain in the world. Especially after we visited.
One quirk that makes Zermatt even more unique is that it’s a completely car-free town! You can only get about 5km away from Zermatt in your own vehicle, and after that you must catch a train to town. The ride into town runs every 20 minutes, and once you arrive you can get around by walking, taking the e-Bus or an e-Taxi, or even hopping in a horse-drawn cab.
Aside from being a popular ski destination, people travel to Zermatt for the views, the lovely microclimate, the upscale shopping and the restaurants that even the harshest food critics would love. It’s Main Street is lined with boutique shops, a variety of remarkable chalets and hotels ranging from historic to modern, and inviting restaurants. And not to mention, despite being quite a quaint little mountain village, there is absolutely an après-ski scene…
At hotel: The Omnia.
For the first half of our time in Zermatt we stayed at The Omnia . This hotel was designed to be a contemporary interpretation of a traditional mountain lodge. If you want to add some inspo to your 2022 mood board, check out their half-indoor half-outdoor pool with views of the Matterhorn. The rooms are tastefully minimal and modern, the restaurant is fantastic and the views will take your breath away. This 5 star hotel is equipped with all the modern amenities and facilities you’d expect, plus it’s right in town within walking distance to Main Street. As far as introductions go, suffice to say our intro to Zermatt staying at The Omnia blew us away and set the bar high.
We stayed in a beautiful suite, room “W”.
Next stop in Zermatt: Riffelalp
Our next stop in Zermatt is a short scenic train ride from Zermatt village (via The Gornergrat railway). Even if you plan to stay in Zermatt Village, taking a trip up on the Gornergrat train is highly recommended as there are many scenic delights just a few stops up.
— Pro tip: take the Gornergrat train, get off at the stop before the top and take a short walk to the Riffelsee, a tiny mountain lake and if there isn’t much wind, the Matterhorn reflects perfectly on the lake.
Hotel: Riffelalp Resort
At precisely 2222 meters above sea level (7,290’ elevation), on a small plateau above Zermatt, sits Riffelalp Resort , where we spent the next few nights of our trip. This 5 star hotel is nestled right in the heart of the Gornergrat skiing and hiking district. It’s nothing short of a skiers paradise, and it’s the only “ski in, ski out” hotel that I have experienced that is quite literally, that. Whereas Zermatt village offers views of the mountains, Riffelalp is among them. The Matterhorn feels like it’s within reach and there is a panoramic masterpiece in any direction you turn.
Riffelalp Resort has the distinction of being Europe’s highest luxury hotel. Built in 1884, it was originally intended to be a summer-only resort and throughout the 19th century it was a hot spot vacation destination for Europe’s high society.
Today the hotel feels classic and cozy while still being upscale and grand. It’s spectacular both Winter and Summer. The region has a nine hole golf course, direct access to skiing and hiking, multiple dining options, a luxurious spa with an outdoor heated pool overlooking the Matterhorn, it even has a bowling alley!
This resort is part of the Leading Hotels of the World , a distinctive collection of exceptional hotel properties that we are members of.
— Pro tip: as of 2020, LHW membership is totally free and comes with perks like room upgrades, free breakfast, late checkout, etc. Become a member here .
We stayed in a outstanding suite, room 2219. Our terrace was actually directly connected to a ski run, and we quite literally took a ski break mid day by skiing down to the back of our room for a glass of wine. That day may have been the high point of my year. I’ll let these photos of the view speak for themselves!
Zermatt to St. Moritz
via the Glacier Express
The next leg of our journey involved traveling from Zermatt to St. Moritz. To our absolute delight, we discovered that there is a bucket list worthy luxury scenic train that runs to and from Zermatt and St. Moritz, The Glacier Express . We soon discovered that said train is quite expensive, especially to sit in an upper class cabin. For example, to reserve a seat in “Excellence Class”, which is a lavish cabin a step above First Class (leave it to Switzerland to create a class ranked above first), it’s an additional CHF 420, or $455, on top of first class ticket price you must also pay. After much debate, we decided if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right. And upon further research, we found a way to get a discount on our tickets - and that sealed the deal.
How get a discount on a ticket for the Glacier Express
Pro tip— There is a Swiss Public Transit Half-Fare card that gives a 50% discount on almost all public transportation tickets in Switzerland, the Glacier Express included. This card is valid for a month and costs $130 (or CHF120), a rate that will quickly pay for itself if you plan on traveling frequently by public transport during your time in Switzerland. The half-fare card is not class-bound, so it will even get you 50% off your first class ticket. Grab one at any Swiss railway station for immediate use.
After some serious mathematics that I kindly delegated to Zack, we found that the half-fare card would be worthwhile to apply to our tickets for The Glacier Express, and we would have it handy for any future travel on Swiss public transport that trip. (Note that the half-fare can be applied to the first class tickets on The Glacier Express, but you must pay full price on the additional fee for a reservation in Excellence Class.)
If you’re curious what our final ticket prices came out to for the most sought after train seats in Switzerland - we each paid CHF 555, about $600. It was a yolo moment for us. Here’s a little more info on this experience:
What is The Glacier Express?
The Glacier Express is often referred to as “the slowest express train in the world”. It’s a scenic 8-hour train ride that goes through some of Switzerlands most beautiful landscapes, slowing at each viewpoint so that passengers can be immersed in the views. Unlike most trains that are only designed to transport from A to B as quickly as possible, this train is designed to showcase the surrounding landscape with unobstructed panoramic windows on the ceilings and walls, even if it means taking its sweet time to do so.
What’s included in Excellence Class?
In the Excellence Class cabin, you have a luxurious lounger window seat, equipped with a personal tablet providing constant infotainment. The infotainment experience guides you through information about each town and landscape you pass through via audio through your personal headphones and with a live updated map on your personal screen. The seat comes with a regional 7-course meal with a wine pairing per course, an aperitif, tea time in the afternoon with sweets, coffee and snacks on demand and finishes with a dessert. We fully indulged in all of the above. Excellence Class has The Glacier Bar which is an area to socialize with other travelers and order additional drinks. In Excellence Class you have a devoted concierge host ready to serve you. They also give you a little parting gift at the end of the journey. Also noteworthy is that the Excellence Class cabin has its own high speed WiFi network. This was crucial for us as we used the 8 hours to both indulge in the experience and to sneak a bit of work in.
Watch my tiktok recap of this experience here.
We arrived to St. Moritz feeling extremely full, a bit lethargic and quite tipsy after our indulgent train ride from Zermatt. We checked into the Kulm Hotel, were escorted to our suite, and were immediately re energized with sheer excitement at the sight of the views from our room.
This is another Leading Hotel of the World property, and one of the most iconic hotels in the area. Dating back to 1856, the history of winter tourism and luxury hotels in St Moritz is all thanks to the opening of the Kulm. You can quite tangibly feel the history as you stroll through this magnificent hotel, but the rooms and amenities are all updated and modern. The views over the lake are absolutely surreal both in the Winter and Summer seasons. The hotel facilities include a nine hole golf course, three outdoor tennis courts, an immaculate spa that offers every possible treatment you can think of, a fitness center, a Michelin star restaurant, an ice skating rink and even a nail salon and hair dresser.
This is a hotel that fits in seamlessly with its glamorous surroundings of St. Moritz.
We stayed in room 460.
St. Moritz to Andermatt
Our return flight was approaching, but without anything majorly pressing to return home for, the idea of extending another week in Switzerland was just too tempting. It’s honestly a wonder we didn’t also apply for citizenship at this point. So we decided we’d push our flights, rent a car and head toward Zürich, and find another cute mountain town to stay in along the way.
The Little Village of Andermatt
This is when we found Andermatt, a tiny Swiss village with exceptional skiing. Andermatt, while perhaps more low key than St. Moritz and Zermatt, has a certain magic about it. It used to be more of a secret among European ski enthusiasts due to its incredible snow and less crowded slopes. Since then Andermatt has been the subject of a massive development project with the opening of its first five star hotel, The Chedi, state of the art chair lifts, Michelin star restaurants, among many other developments that have transformed Andermatt and increased tourism exponentially.
Where we stayed
We booked an apartment in Andermatt for the weekend while we were en route. The place we booked was called Alpine Apartments , and despite it being so last minute, we were very pleased with our cute little apartment. It had everything we needed to hunker down, get some work done and binge watch Cheer while we waited for a snowstorm to blow through Andermatt. It was located just outside of the main village in an area that is all modern developments, only a short walk to the center of Andermatt.
The following week we moved even closer to the slopes, to a brand new Aparthotel concept called The Base, aptly named after its proximity to the base of the slopes. The gondola up is quite literally a few steps out of the front door!
We spent our last few blissful Switzerland days skiing Andermatt and enjoying cozy evenings in our beautiful apartment. We stayed in apartment 10, book it here .
And with that, our Swiss trip had come to an end. We had the time of our lives!