Best of Switzerland: The Cervo in Zermatt
Among insiders the small village of Zermatt in Switzerland has long been one of the top destinations for a picture-perfect winter holiday. Nestled into a group of surrounding mountains, one of which being the infamous Matterhorn, Zermatt is home to around 6000 inhabitants, attracting thousands of visitors each year looking for relaxation, sports and fun. Going there for the first time I was not sure what I was in for, but one look at the village from the top of a mountain was enough for the small community to instantly gain a soft spot in my heart.
One of the things that make this place so special is that it’s been car-free since 1931. Nowadays there are only a few small electro cars commuting people from A to B. But taking transportation is hardly necessary as Zermatt can easily be explored on foot. Tourism has boomed in the past 10 years with 2011 seeing over 4 times more visitors than in 2002. In line with this development, more and more cool bars and clubs and beautifully modern hotels are opening up with the favorite being The Cervo.
The Cervo is a rare cross breed of design hotel, alp chalet and lodge, making it appealing to traditionalists as well as those seeking top modern comfort. It doesn’t look to be any one thing, it just cares about making you feel right at home.
As unique as the design is its location. Going left, you’ll be headed straight into the woods on a beaten track that doubles as the end of the piste . To your right you have the village at your feet. The views here are spectacular with the Matterhorn right there. It’s idyllic and quiet up there but the center of action with plenty of shops, bars and the central train station are just a pleasant 10 minute walk away.
While the Cervo is making it easy for its guests to leave, it really does not offer a whole lot of reasons to do so. The cosy rooms are spacious and designed to give off comforting vibes with lots of wooden features and and cool details like a retro rotary dial phone. And there is just something about plaid wallpaper that just makes my heart skip a beat.
We stayed in one of the deluxe rooms which comes with a very long balcony from where you get to to enjoy the beautiful view over the center of town. Every one of the five chalets has its own spa area with a sauna and various massage services on offer.
And there is more. The restaurant Stuba on the top floor of the main chalet is the talk of the town, dishing up some great classics of fine dining as well as regional specialties. Stuba is best enjoyed at dinner time, with a group of friends or a special someone but if you get hungry between piste runs, relax at the downstairs bar and order a Brotzeit, the Swiss version of Tapas.
Final perk: just across from the main hotel building is an elevator that connects the Cervo to the center of town as well as the ski lift. While others pay to use it and can only do so until a certain hour, guests of the Cervo can operate the elevator at any time of day and night, simply by using their room key card. How is that for a VIP treatment?
When you’re not skiing or snowboarding, or relaxing at the hotel, it’s always worth walking into the centre to either do some shopping in one of the many clothes stores, stick up on some fine Swiss chocolate for your loved ones or sit down in one of the many cafe’s for a cappuccino and a good piece of cake.
Nightlife is rather legendary in Zermatt with plenty of drinking holes at your service. Luckily the young hotel staff at the Cervo were well acquainted with the local bar scene and were able to point us in the right direction. So it didn’t take long until we found the Papperla Pub, a local favorite, where visitors, ski teachers and waiters meet up for a wild apres-ski party. There is usually live music here and it doesn’t take long until grannies can be spotted dancing with guys in eighties track suits.
Another good option for live music is the Hennu Stall, where the party vibes are almost reminiscent of Munich’s Oktoberfest. If you feel like clubbing, the Schneewittchen is just next to the Papperla Pub, so come here if you have energy left. Zermatt is not too big, so all nightlife options are easily explored. It’s worth popping into each of them to find your favorite.
“We party much harder than they do in Ibiza.”, someone told me at one of that bars and after a few drinks there I believed every word of it. What happens in Zermatt, stays in Zermatt. Come here to let your hair down, go for long walks, do all the winter sports your heart desires, eat delicious food, indulge in massages and steam baths, watch infinite reruns of Sex and the City or simply enjoy the romantic silence of the village as the snow gently falls.