Riffelalp Resort

Riffelalp Resort: Zermatt’s best ski-in ski-out hotel in the check

High above Zermatt, on a sun-drenched plateau with a direct view of Switzerland’s most iconic peak, is one of the resort’s best ski-in ski-out hotels. What is unique here is not only the excellent location, but also the history of the house. Almost 20 years after the first ascent of the Matterhorn, the former Grand Hotel Riffelalp was opened for summer tourism in July 1884. Today, the Riffelalp Resort is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and creates the perfect bridge between luxury and sportiness.

This winter, we were allowed to check in for two nights in a room in the “Matterhorn Superior” category and get an idea of the amenities that winter holidays at the Riffelalp Resort bring with them. Our impressions in a nutshell? Well, it’s a pity that my schedule didn’t allow for a spontaneous extension of my stay. But now for the details:

3:30 p.m.: Check-in at the legendary Zermatt Ski-in Ski-out Hotel

From Zermatt, you can reach the Riffelalp Resort at 2,222 metres above sea level by taking the Gornergrat railway. The construction of the rack railway began about ten years after the opening of the former Grand Hotel Riffelalp and for reasons of track construction the location of the hotel could not be taken into account as originally planned. For example, the Riffelalp stop is about 400 metres from the resort. The distance can be covered in summer with Europe’s shortest and highest tram. Now in winter, this means either a short walk or you can travel with the luggage transport.

The journey works perfectly. When we arrive, a porter is already waiting for us, who receives our luggage and takes it directly to the reception or ski room. And we can enjoy the short 5-minute walk from the train station to the resort “ballast-free” and get a brief overview. Since a comprehensive renovation including rebranding from 1998 to 2000, the Hotel Riffelalp has been operated as a modern 5-star resort with a total of 65 rooms and suites. The interior is dominated by warm, cosy materials and colours – wood, stone and matching carpets. At the same time, thanks to cleverly placed windows, a surprising amount of light enters the interior.

After a friendly welcome followed by an uncomplicated and quick check-in process (if you like, you can fill out most of it online in advance and thus save time on site), the moment of surprise comes up: “Will we see the Matterhorn from our room?” But yes! And how! The balcony belonging to the room feels like a box seat.

Riffelalp Resort Deluxe Zimmer
Zimmerausblick Riffelalp Resort

6:30 p.m.: Welcome drinks & buffet fun

We enjoy the last rays of sunshine of the day from “our” balcony and then go to the hotel bar. It is open daily from 11:00 a.m. until late in the evening and is – as far as we have seen – a popular place to stay almost at any time of the day. And we immediately felt at home here.

In a cross-comparison with other hotel bars, Bar 2’222m is characterized by a cleverly structured, spacious floor plan with a variety of different seating options; On the large leather sofa directly in front of the blazing fireplace or would you rather retreat a little in a comfortable wingback chair? The choice is yours! I also give extra points for the selection of snacks served as an aperitif.

Shortly before 7:00 p.m., the bar is well filled and it becomes clear that the crowd of guests is colorfully mixed. The range includes different family constellations, younger and older couples as well as solo travellers. Some of them are still dressed in winter sports equipment, others are dressed in a sporty, elegant way. There is no trace of stiffness or snobbery far and wide.

On this first evening, after the aperitif in the bar, we go to the main restaurant Alexandre. In addition to a regular evening menu and an à la carte offer, guests can expect a daily changing culinary highlight. During our visit on Sunday evening, for example, this was an impressive appetizer buffet, where ordering a main course quickly became superfluous.

08:00 a.m.: Daywatch at 2222 meters above sea level

The next day starts – how could it be otherwise – with a look out of the window. Is the Matterhorn showing up today? The view is promising! The last snow clouds still caress the flanks of the mountain icon – but we are confident that they will also dissipate and that we can expect a wonderful day of skiing.

Matterhorn Riffelalp

But first, you need to recharge your batteries. Breakfast is served from 07:00 to 11:00 in the Alexander restaurant. We are early and it is still quiet at the buffet. With the time available, however, no crowding is to be expected per se. Worth mentioning are the daily changing freshly squeezed fruit juices and the still oven-warm, fresh pastries. We are not the most demanding “Zmörgelär” per se, but I would think that the buffet can easily meet high demands.

Frühstück Riffelalp Resort

09:30 a.m.: Panoramic tour of the “Matterhorn Ski Paradise”

Something I think is really great about the Riffelalp Resort – in addition to the fact that it is located directly on the 360 great kilometres of slopes of the Matterhorn Ski Paradise – is the in-house ski rental. In winter, Bayard-Sport is rented directly in the ski room, where guests can easily rent ski or snowboard equipment. I usually always take my own ski boots with me. On the other hand, I prefer to rent the skis on site – this saves me both the “lugging” on arrival and the associated regular maintenance and checks. And that’s exactly what I’m doing here.

While the ski rental is logically associated with extra costs, the room rate includes participation in guided day tours with ski guide Yann three to four days a week (depending on the weather). Especially if you are in Zermatt for the first time, you get a great introduction to the ski area.

We, on the other hand, already know the ski area relatively well from previous visits and want to take advantage of the good conditions in the morning for an ambitious round from the Klein Matterhorn side to the Rothorn and via Hohtälli back to the Riffelalp. And this time, too, Zermatt manages to literally sweep me off my feet (as a not so passionate skier) with its ingenious kilometre-long descents!

Skifahren Klein Matterhorn
Abfahrt Zermatt
Fluhalp Zermatt Winter
Panorama Skipisten Zermatt

1:30 pm: Stop at Al Bosco

After a brilliant round of skiing, we return to the Riffelalp in the early afternoon. Zermatt is not only record-breaking in terms of kilometres of slopes and length of runs, but also scores with outstanding piste gastronomy. Luckily, we have been able to test many classics such as Chez Vrony, Fluhalp, Paradies and Zum See during previous stays. So it was obvious to try out the Riffelalp answer this time with the “Al Bosco“.

RIffelalp Al Bosco

For lunch, we ordered the legendary “Riffelalp Gamelle” (18 CHF) and the Matterhorn Pizza (31 CHF) and shared a delicious piece of tiramisu for dessert (15 CHF). Conclusion: Both in terms of taste and price, an absolutely recommendable stop for a bite to eat.

Tiramisu Riffelalp

The only point of criticism: I had booked my table in advance via the online reservation tool and unfortunately my booking (despite reservation confirmation) went unnoticed. Luckily, Al Bosco still had plenty of free tables on a Monday in January. But if you want to be sure that everything works even on a weekend day in the high season, it is better to reserve a table by phone, in my experience.

3:00 pm: Spa Time at the Riffelalp Resort

The Riffelalp Resort not only scores as a ski-in ski-out hotel, but also knows how to inspire wellness fans with its spa. A special highlight is the 35° outdoor pool with a direct view of the Matterhorn. The best place to let your tired muscles bubble through after a sporty day of skiing. Inside, it’s worth taking a detour to the generously designed sauna area.

Pool Riffelalp Resort

Where the Riffelalp Resort could take a leaf out of the book compared to other comparable 5-star hotels is in the treatments. I had booked a mountain stamp massage and missed some of the “finesse” during the whole process (greeting, conclusion and farewell). For example, that after the massage you are accompanied to the relaxation room and offered a tea (or similar).

19:30 Uhr: All-you-can-eat raclette

On our second evening at the Riffelalp Resort, after the obligatory aperitif stop in the bar, we head down to the third restaurant of the house – the Walliserkeller. Here we can expect a rustic mountain hut ambience and a matching selection of Swiss specialties, including the classic cheese fondue (moité-moité) and raclette à discrétion. We opt for the latter and enjoy a casual dinner where we get into conversation with our table neighbor – an American couple of our age. A successful end to two all-round perfect days at the Riffelalp Resort.

Riffelalp Resort Zermatt

And yes: I can well imagine checking in here again for two or three days in one of the coming winters. The combination of top location and discreet luxury offered by the Riffelalp Resort is – as far as value for money is concerned – excellent!

Practical tips for your stay at the Riffelalp Resort

  • Room rates from 380 CHF per night (category Nature Grandlit) incl. breakfast, spa entry, own ski locker and participation in the daily program.
  • Overnight rates for the “Matterhorn Superior” room category start at CHF 580 per night.
  • You can reach the Riffelalp Resort with the Gornergratbahn from Zermatt (travel time 20 minutes). Due to the location of the hotel, it is recommended to travel by train.
  • The resort has direct access to the ski slopes of the cross-border Matterhorn Ski Paradise ski area. From the hotel, a red slope leads down to Furi, from where you can either go up towards the Gornergrat or the Klein Matterhorn. Since there are no direct practice lifts in the area, the stay is only worthwhile to a limited extent for beginners (or you simply have to be aware of it).
  • Zermatt has introduced dynamic pricing for ski passes. Depending on the season, demand and scope of services (Zermatt only or including Cervinia), a 2-day pass costs between around 130 and 180 CHF. Current price information can be found here: Ski passes winter
  • Of course, there is also a lot to experience around the Riffelalp Resort away from the slopes. An overview of all winter activities can be found here: Riffelalp Resort in winter

Note: Our stay in Zermatt was supported by the Riffelalp Resort. All impressions and opinions are ours.

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