With the rise in value of the Swiss franc, you may think that the cost of skiing in Switzerland just got a bit too much, but not so. There is no reason to eschew the land of cuckoo clocks and chocolate, superlative skiing and cow bells. We have put together a few recommendations on how to stretch your franc further…
1) Eat out!
Ok, we’re not suggesting that all restaurants in Zermatt are cheap, but there are some fantastic places that won’t break the bank if you know where to go:
• Grizzly’s Bar: Close to the Coop supermarket, Grizzly’s is the perfect place to sit down and have a craft beer after a day on the slopes. Graham & Isabel will give you the warmest welcome. Take a ringside seat at the bar and watch Chef Graham magic up the most incredible international dishes in his tiny kitchen. Theatre before your very eyes. We’re not saying it’s the cheapest place on this list – but the portions are insanely huge! The burgers are magnificent – you’ll never go home hungry but in the happiest bar in Zermatt, you’ll always leave with a smile.
• Walliserstube: Owner/Chef Andreas offers a wide variety of local, Walliser dishes, including cheese fondue, meat fondue, hot stone, etc., but has the added advantage of being next to Zermatt’s fishmonger, and so has the first pick of the best, freshest fish. In our Swiss tradition, he doesn’t stint on the vegetable garnish, perfectly cooked, and a wide variety, which is always welcome and healthy. However, as I watch the snow fall down outside my window, I have to recommend the warming, decadent herbed cheese fondue with his homemade bread to dip into. Heaven
• Sparky’s: Sparky has a wonderful ability to use flavours to their full and most delicious potential, directing this talent towards simple, value for money comfort food. His Thai green curry is the best we have ever had, and new on the menu this year is the steak and ale pie with creamed potatoes. Sparky makes his own pastry (half flour, half butter!), and uses Eichhof Hubertus dark beer that is also served at the bar.
• GramPi’s: Two floors of lively Italian dining. Superb value for money, charming Italian staff, genuine Italian pizza and pasta, good food, huge portions. What more could you want? The place has a buzz. The service, overseen by the unflappable, smiling Salvatore is smooth and seamless. The pizzas are made by an Italian Pizzaiolo in his wood burning oven. They serve seasonal specials (venison steak, wild boar pappardelle, truffled linguine in Autumn, Asparagus in a variety of ways towards the end of winter…) and a divine Venetian calves liver with rosemary and garlic oven roasted potatoes.
• The North Wall Bar & Restaurant: Pizza and craft beer. Ariet & David will welcome you into this really easy-going bar and restaurant. Enjoy a couple of craft beers at the bar until the smell of fresh pizza draws you into the spacious dining room. The premise is simple – you’ll be given a slip of paper and you choose from the long list of extra toppings to put on your Margherita. There’s no cheaper pizza in town – and the pizza here is really excellent. Thin crusted and perfectly cooked – 15chf for a basic Margherita.
2) Eat in!
• Catered. At first glance, it might seem an expensive idea, but if you tot it all up, a catered option in your chalet is not a bad economy at all. No hassle, no fuss, staff to look after you and a chef to cook for you. A gourmet four course dinner (duck confit on beetroot mash with celeriac purée and courgette fondant, succulent scallops with chorizo and sweetcorn, roasted cider pork belly, etc.) with carefully selected tasting wines, and you don’t need to shop for it or slave for it, and someone else will do the washing up. Ski Zermatt can make it happen. Have a look at some of the food we’ve made for our Ski Zermatt guests.
• Pizza delivery. Your apartment is cosy, the fire is roaring away, you have candles and music on, and tired ski legs. No problem. Federico from Pizza Delivery Zermatt delivers not only pizza, but a variety of pastas, salads, meat and fish main courses right to your door at very reasonable rates and no delivery charge. Our favourite is the Fritto Misto di Pesce – huge chunks of squid, octopus, prawns in the lightest batter…
• Take Away – hot soups from Soupi are made every day & served with fresh crusty bread at this cute Soup Bar in the Church Square. There’s a new special every week – this year made by a local Zermatt musician. The Hot Punch is delicious (and packs a punch if you choose to have it with a shot of whiskey!).
• COOP, Migros and Denner are the supermarkets here in Zermatt. Don’t tell everybody, but meat and fish are discounted to clear in the early afternoon each day.
3) Eat over the border.
Zermatt is famous for many things and celebrated above all for it’s incredible gourmet mountain restaurants. Whilst it is certainly worth the money to eat the amazing food and soak up the superlative Matterhorn view from the terrace at famous Chez Vrony, perhaps save that for a lazy, sunny special occasion day, and instead, ski over into Cervinia and lunch in the sun at Chalet Etoile, Bontadini and Rascard. We love the Pera Doussa, an agriturrismo in ValTournenche, where they serve their own produce, including a homemade, potent raspberry grappa, then tow you back to the piste on the end of a rope attached to a skidoo.
4) Travel by train
One of the greatest pleasures of Switzerland: the trains are on time, reliable, clean, even have electric sockets where you can plug your laptops and mobile phones, and they journey through some of the world’s most stunning scenery.
Buy a Swiss Transfer Ticket, valid for a return journey if you use it within a month. It works out easily more than 40% cheaper than a standard return ticket, but you must buy it before you travel.
Children under 16 travel for free on a family ticket. Again, you need to organise this in advance. We can help you: it is all part of our pre arrival holiday planner service.
5) Travel by limousine
You may dismiss this option out of hand, but if you are a large group, it can work out cheaper to order a transfer pick up from the airport. These are not just minibuses, but leather-seated, comfortable, chauffeur driven sitting rooms with DVD players and all mod cons. Being met at the airport by a young man in a suit and dark glasses who whisks away your luggage and drives you to your apartment is the most relaxing way to start your holiday. Just have a look at the cars you could travel in with Alphubel.
6) Discounts on ski hire.
Our ski rental partners, Flexrent, offer 10% off all rentals to all Ski Zermatt guests.
7) Discounts on Ski Passes
Children under 9 ski for free! All children under 16 ski for free on Saturdays.
There are substantial discounts for anyone under 20 years old.
We keep an eye out for special offers for our guests….at the moment there is a 10% discount until 31st January.
8) Spa & Wellness
Many of the hotels have special offers during the day to visit their spa. The very grand Mont Cervin Palace 50CHF for the whole day of swimming, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, relaxation, and many other hotels do something similar.
9) Live music
Zermatt is fantastic for live music. We have noticed a massive rise in the standard and number of musicians working here since the start of last year.
There is on-piste and Après Ski live music at Blue Lounge, Fluhalp, Hennu Stall, Papperla Pub and Cervo. An excellent band, with a line up that changes regularly plays every night at Gees Bar & Bistro. Cable Car has an Open Mic night every Tuesday, and incidentally has the most affordable drinks too. The Cavern plays host to various line ups and bands Wednesday to Sunday, and The Pink hosts famous musicians from Chicago.
10) Free stuff to do
It’s not all about skiing.
• Ice skating. Turn up at the Spielplatz with your skates and twirl around the huge natural ice rink. For beginners, you can hold onto giant skating penguins until you can stand up by yourself
• Sledging: There are various sledge runs, all of them quite exhilarating, some perhaps too much so!
• Walking & hiking: The walking trails above Zermatt are kept in tip top condition by a team of dedicated workers both in summer & winter. See my Elysian Collection blog about what happens to your old Christmas tree after Christmas…
• Night clubs: All the night clubs in Zermatt are free entry. It costs nothing to go into Broken, Vernissage, The Cavern, Gees Bar, Cuckoo Club and boogie the night away.