Zermatt, Switzerland

Photo: Zermatt photos / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Zermatt is a classic Swiss destination. Cozy chalets with stone roofs and flower boxes. Songbirds and horse-drawn carriages instead of traffic. Cheese, chocolate, and mulled wine. A network of alpine cable cars, gondolas, and cog railways. Four ski areas. A view of the iconic Matterhorn. Perhaps it’s the classic Swiss destination.

Since you already seem to know the Mattertal—a valley surrounded by numerous four-thousanders—so well, it might be time to switch up your next trip to southwest Switzerland. Don’t worry, you’re still going to ride the Glacier Express through the Alps. You still get to visit your favorite luxury boutiques and Michelin-starred restaurants. You still get to ski throughout the summer thanks to high glaciers. Zermatt is still your destination.

The only thing that’s changing is your hotel. Zermatt is known for its traditional hotels. They’re lovely and professional. They’re also among the most expensive in a country not known for bargains. So Backstage Hotel Vernissage might come as a shock.

Photo: Backstage Hotel Vernissage

Backstage Hotel Vernissage sits in the center of Zermatt. It’s just off Bahnhofstrasse, the village’s bustling main street. The tennis courts, which turn into a winter ice rink, are just across the street. The train station, where drivers desert their cars for environmentally-friendly electric shuttles, is only five minutes away. You can’t miss it.

The hotel’s location isn’t the only thing that makes it easy to find. If the directions don’t make sense, just look for the mirrored-pine structure that doesn’t fit in with the buildings around it. Tourists, who aren’t even staying at the hotel, are usually taking photos of it. The unique building was the childhood home of Heinz Julen. The local artist still lives on the top floor. While the interior has been transformed into an uber-modern design hotel. Think brushed stainless steel, glass floors, chandeliers made from musical instruments, floating fireplaces, and lots of distressed leather. It’s creative, playful, and certainly unique.

It’ll be difficult to pick your favorite part of the hotel. For rooms, you get to select between a Deluxe Matterhorn, whose freestanding tub has a view of the jewel of the Swiss Alps, and a Cube Loft, whose bed sits atop a giant glass cube in the center of the space. The Michelin-starred restaurant, After Seven, offers four-, five-, and seven-course “surprise menus.” The spa follows the story of creation through seven sensory cubes, ending with a representation of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling in the meditation room. A sprawling, two-level deck overlooks the year-round heated pool. Plus the cinema shows current blockbusters. It all comes with a very reasonable price tag. You’ll definitely never look at Zermatt the same way again.

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