Okay, as much as we Life Busers enjoy our backpacking, car-camping, huts, yurts, Toyota Tunder flatbeds, etc. … sometimes we need a splurge.  After having spent several nights in very average, nondescript Swiss and German hotels on this trip, Todd and I figured Zermatt was the place to embrace the splurge mentality.  We jumped in with both feet and booked 3 nights at the Riffelalp Resort in Zermatt.  Technically, it’s not in Zermatt proper, it’s actually about 2000 feet up the valley sidewall from Zermatt.  The hotel is only accessible via either the Gornergratbahn or a well-marked footpath leading from Zermatt up to the Riffelalp.  Just a word of caution, the footpath route is very scenic but does take about an hour uphill (obviously less time going down into town.)  Riffelalp Resort  [slideshow]

Let me just say that the location of this hotel and the superior service and luxury of this hotel will make you never, ever want to leave!!!  It will make you want to mortgage everything you have to stay another night.  Upon your arrival at the train station, you are met by one of those little golf cart buggies where they will take your luggage and give you tickets for the Gornergratbahn ride up to the hotel.  The hotel provides free tickets for each guest for both your arrival and departure train rides.

We were in room #203 with the most spectacular views of the Matterhorn.  The photo of the Matterhorn with the summit bathed in an orange glow was taken from our room at sunrise.  The linens were the crispest, most amazing linens and the duvet cover was as puffy as it gets.  The size of the room was very generous.  The service was of the highest European quality!  The breakfast buffet was another place I could have stayed all day.  It was the typical Swiss breakfast where the buffet goes on forever with wonderful muesli, Swiss cheeses. creamy butter, breads, yogurts, fresh fruit, and traditional local meats.

The view of the Matterhorn from the pool is perhaps one of the best hotel pool views in the world!!  The pool itself is like a giant hot tub with a series of jets, vibrations, and waves that ripple throughout the pool.

The proximity of the Riffelalp to the Gornergrat hiking system is also unbeatable.  Out the hotel door and you can be hiking immediately.  If you choose to ride the Gornergratbahn up and hike down the bahn is only around the corner.  The trail running was breathtaking.  In fact, the hotel is the endpoint for the Zermatt Trail Marathon which I hope to be doing in 2013.  They were setting up for the race the day we arrived.

There is nothing upon which the Riffelalp does not deliver spectacularly.  So please, if you find yourself in Zermatt, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a stay at the Riffelalp Resort.  You will find it very hard to return to reality.  Hey, sometimes the Life Bus needs to park itself in Valet parking!!

Please note there are a few caveats about taking the Gornergratbahn to and from the Riffelalp.  Here ya’ go:

The bahn is very easy to catch in town and is a scenic ride up to the hotel.  From the place where the bahn drops you off to the hotel is about a 5 minute walk on a nice pathway.  There is a caveat here that is very important to note.  The ride on the bahn costs approximately $20 per person each way from the hotel to town.  Todd and I thought we would just cruise up and down between the town and the hotel.  We definitely got a wake up call when we walked down into town and then went to ride the bahn back up.  It was $40 for the two of us to get back up to the hotel.  Needless to say, we didn’t cruise down into town again.  Instead, we enjoyed all of the hiking being in such close proximity to the hotel.  You can ride the bahn from the hotel to the top of the Gornergratbahn and back down as well.  These prices vary depending on the distance you are riding.  Check the website for pricing, stops, times, etc.  Gornergratbahn