The five-star Riffelalp Resort, which opened in 1884 and subsequently became a playground for the rich and famous, enjoys an enviable location in the heart of Switzerland’s Gornergrat skiing and hiking district. The setting borders a stone pine forest and is nothing short of enchanting. The hotel itself remains the epitome of luxury. The 65 rooms, five suites, and two apartments are decorated in a rustic-luxe style with wooden walls, elegant sofas and armchairs, and traditional rugs. They also brim with a host of modern conveniences including satellite TV, free Wi-Fi, and Jacuzzis. Most importantly, given the views, all rooms also come with balconies and terraces. Entertainment options are abundant too, with billiards and bowling rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, and a dedicated spa and fitness area.
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Riffelalp is in the middle of Zermatt’s hiking and skiing area, which has miles of trails for every conceivable experience level. Other activities in the locale include ice skating, winter hiking, and tobogganing at nearby Rotenboden. In summer the area is perfect for hiking, mountain biking, kickbiking, or tennis matches at Europe’s highest tennis court. The region also offers plenty of culinary and cultural diversions such as Zermatt’s Unplugged concerts in April, and a nine-hole golf course in nearby Randa (transfers can be arranged via the hotel).
Need to Know
Rooms: 70 rooms and two apartments. From $633, including lunch and dinner. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The main restaurant, Al Bosco, is a rustic-chic affair serving Swiss specialties that can be taken on the terrace. Restaurant Alexandre ups the ante with a wood-paneled interior and five-star menu, and in winter the Walliser Keller opens and serves regional cuisine from an open fire. The hotel bar offers a classic interior of wood floors and striped armchairs, while the outdoor Mark Twain lounge is perfect for drinks in the sun. Spa and gym details: The hotel features Europe’s highest outdoor pool (heated of course), with superb views of the Matterhorn, water-jet recliners, water-jet seats, and various water jets mounted on the side. There is also an indoor pool with whirlpool, massage showers, solarium, Finnish and organic saunas, and a “Schönbiel cave” with steam bath.
Who it's for: Those longing for a romantic rural escape and some quality pampering. Our favorite rooms: The Matterhorn Suites are enormous and come with balconies looking out at the surrounding mountains, two bedrooms (one with a king-size bed and the other a queen), living room, bathroom with steam bath shower, and separate shower. Plan ahead: Table reservations for both Al Bosco and Alexandre are highly recommended.