It's difficult to know how to review a hotel with no faults, but it would be strange to give up on the task just because a place is nearly perfect.
The Chalet Hotel Schoenegg sits a couple of hundred feet above the attractive ants' nest of Zermatt, so you're looking across the rooftops and have an un-cluttered prospect of the Matterhorn in the distance, supervising the proceedings like the chairman of the board.
But don't be concerned about the slog up the hill; shared with its immediate neighbour the Alpen Royal, the Schoenegg boasts the most dramatic hotel entrance in Zermatt. An archway in a rock face off one of the central streets takes you into a dimly-lit (and cool) tunnel running a hundred yards through the living rock, from the end of which a lift whisks you up the equivalent of several storeys to the hotel reception. Described by our Inghams' rep as a 'James Bond' entrance, our first trip along the tunnel in the Schoenegg's 'electro wagon' from the station put me more in mind of Harry Potter's Gringotts' Bank.
You emerge into a classic alpine chalet hotel, comfortable and pristine, managing to be both cool and warm at once, to a welcome both attentive and unobtrusive. Since we'd booked a room with a Matterhorn view at the front we shouldn't have been surprised to get one, but the first glimpse out of the balcony window of our large and comfortable room (number 409) was still breathtaking.
We were on half board and any nervousness about the nightly set menu was dismissed on the first evening. The meals are superbly selected, balanced, measured, presented and served, with the added zest of the views up or down the valley over Zermatt's alluring rooftops. The restaurant's carved timber interior exudes hospitality and comfort - as do the staff.
Over the week we used a 'Peak Pass' to go up everything and walk about - or down - and on most days took up the Schoenegg's offer of a packed lunch after the generous and bountiful breakfast buffet. To return to the Schoenegg for a leisurely bath or shower and cool off on the balcony before another superb dinner was almost too good to be true.
Having booked three nights in Montreux before returning home it was with heavy hearts that we left Zermatt and the Schoenegg in particular. It was going to be a hard act to follow - and the Riviera of Lake Geneva failed to live up to the town or this lovely hotel.
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Hotel Zermatt