The pocket-sized Alpine village of Andermatt is shedding its dowdy image and becoming a chic destination. The opening of The Chedi Andermatt hotel has helped, along with some choice boutiques and restaurants, spectacular private housing developments and more construction projects in the pipeline. The sleepy village today presents a livelier face, especially during ski season, when it attracts a small but sophisticated crowd.
Designed by the celebrated architect Jean-Michel Gathy, the exterior is a contemporary take on an Alpine chalet on a grand scale, and the interiors combine the lofty ceilings and modern fixtures associated with his Asian projects, using warm tones and textiles. The effect is impressive and gave me a sense of glamour and cosiness in equal measure. The clean lines of the interiors contrast with the views out onto the pine trees and mountains. There is even a sunken, outdoor seating area with a central firepit, a replica of those I have seen in Aman properties in India and Bhutan (and probably more useful here in the Alps).
Inside the main hotel building is a collection of lounges on the ground floor that flow one into the next. Each has a designated purpose – bar, library, cigar lounge, and so on, but in reality, The Chedi has created a series of chill-out areas with day beds and soft seating, great for a light snack, a spot of tea, or to relax after a hard day’s skiing. It’s as if cosiness was one of the remits for the architect, as there are so many lovely nooks and crannies to explore, making this grand hotel feel almost homely.
My visit to Andermatt was in the height of summer with sunshine, beautiful wild flowers and glorious, long days. In autumn, I imagine it’s a stunning setting too, with the changing colours in the forest and cosy evenings spent inside. In the winter it must be wonderfully atmospheric with snow underfoot and a real sense of occasion. And in spring it’s still possible to ski, while at lower levels the hiking trails open up. This is truly a hotel for all seasons.
- Daily breakfast for 2
- Served in The Restaurant
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability, not applicable to Suites
- Spa credit
- US$100 or equivalent to be utilised during your stay towards treatments
- Resort experience
- Authentic Swiss chocolate platter served with a bottle of Champagne
- Early check-in / Late check-out
- Subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
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There is a great sense of arrival at The Chedi Andermatt, with a very impressive, industrial-style canopy over the approach. I was immediately greeted by the valet, who took care of the bags and the car. On entering the hotel there’s a lofty drama to the lobby, and while the minimalist aesthetic and natural materials are elegant, it’s a shame that it doesn’t look out over the mountains.
Check-in was very efficient. Unlike some hotels, they had taken note of the passport copies I had sent in advance, so all that was needed was a credit card and a signature. I was met by the very engaging sales manager and taken straight to the room. Rather touchingly, the hotel had made a note of my travelling companion’s birthday and had set a beautiful bunch of flowers and a card out for her in her room. Top points.
Rooms and suites
My suite was open-plan with high ceilings – essentially a continuation of the natural materials theme: minimalist, unfussy and cosy. There were some lovely details, such as the slatted screens dividing certain areas of the room, leather drawers on the mini-bar and in the dressing area, and linen covers on the stationery and activities files.
The lighting was atmospheric and controlled by an iPad, as were the rest of the fixtures and fittings such as blinds, temperature and audio. Some of the controls are intuitive, and some are frustrating. I had real problems trying to get my music to play through the audio system, and the minimum room temperature of 19 degrees seemed on the warm side at night. The lighting was beautifully atmospheric, but for the visually impaired this might pose problems. The wi-fi was consistent and fast, and there were various plug points throughout the bedroom and living area in obvious places.
The suite was not without a few design faults, however. For example, there was a sliding partition door between the entrance hall and the living area, but no division between the bedroom and living area, which would be useful for families or couples with varying sleeping patterns. Another minor gripe was the drop lighting over the dining table, which I headbutted no fewer than four times during the day. Other features like the fireplace, open to both the living area and the bedroom, more than maDe up for this, but it seems these little issues could be easily rectified.
As the suite is all on one level, anyone with access difficulties would have no issues here.
The temple-like bathroom was a sanctuary within the suite, with the bathtub as the main focus. A combination of sliding and hinged doors meant the area could be private or open, depending on your preference. I was pleased to see plenty of towels and huge, fluffy, hooded bath robes, a powerful hairdryer and a make-up mirror. The Chedi offers gorgeous Aqua di Parma products, and the 40ml bottles last a couple of days each, but still housekeeping were very keen to supplement my supply daily.
The rain shower was large, big enough for eight people, as the sales manager was keen to advise. The Aquaclean WC was just as spacious as the shower, but the slight frosting on the door leaves little to the imagination.
Then there was the twin vanity unit and the dressing area, and while very attractive, I found them both wanting, practically speaking. Designed by the same architect as many of the Aman resorts, it’s no surprise that there are similarities in design, including certain pitfalls. Mood lighting is atmospheric and, let’s face it, flattering. However, in the evening while trying to put on make-up, it’s not helpful. Then there was the low-level stool, which looked stylish, but when you sat down to dry your hair, you couldn’t see yourself in the mirror.
Overall, I thought the bathroom was sleek and sexy, but these small gripes can add up.
The main restaurant is on the ground floor and is beautifully designed with floor-to-ceiling glass, surrounded by pine trees and mountains in the background. The decor combines contemporary and turn-of-the-century themes and pulls it off by using muted tones and natural materials that complement, rather than compete with, the views. The central focus is an impressive five-metre-high cheese cellar – my idea of heaven. It’s open to all at breakfast, and to order from during lunch and dinner.
The Chedi hotel chain has always prided itself on its food, and Andermatt is no exception. Even the house cream of carrot soup as an afternoon snack was sublime. But the kitchens in the hotel focus on two cuisines: contemporary Swiss and pan-Asian. My fish carpaccio starter was beautifully fresh and subtly flavoured with herbs I couldn’t identify, perhaps local. The beef fillet was velveteen and cooked to perfection, although it was so good that the sauce was a distraction. The overall menu is incredibly creative, and there were many dishes I would have been happy to test. Next time.
For oenophiles there is an extensive wine list with some superb European vintages as well as some excellent local wines, many of which simply don’t make it out of the country.
Breakfast is served in the main restaurant area, and the four kitchen areas are converted into four elegant buffet stations. I was somewhat surprised to see that eggs to order are charged additionally, but the spread covers the major food groups, including a whole area devoted to wheat-free options.
Other restaurant options
The sumptuous Japanese restaurant has won various awards for its fine cuisine and extensive sake menu. It has a limited capacity, so it’s best to book in advance.
The hotel also has a wine cellar, actually on the ground floor, which can be used for wine tasting and also general private dining. Food or light snacks and high teas can also be served throughout the various seating areas on the ground floor, and when the sun is shining there are tables dotted around the landscaped grounds.
In winter months, guests can eat in the cosy chalet, which is put up in the courtyard, and in the summer there’s a clubhouse adjacent to the local golf club, open for lunch and tea.
The Chedi is in the heart of Andermatt, and there are also plenty of restaurants in town should you wish to have a change of scenery. Everything is accessible on foot, although the hotel does have a fleet of cars should you prefer not to walk.
Spa and wellness
The vast spa complex is a fabulous highlight of the hotel, almost a reason to visit in itself.
The hydrotherapy suite brings Asian influences into its design with clean lines and beautiful low lighting. Two steam rooms and two saunas are complemented by a temple-like pool, divided into three temperatures, each guarded by meditating statues. It sounds austere, but with sunlight dappled by pine trees over the water, it has a calming effect. The whole area is very well thought out, with elegant places to sit and rest and plenty of towels.
The spa comprises 10 beautifully appointed, quiet suites. Therapies predominantly use Alpienne products, which combine natural ingredients for a selection of herbal baths, facials and scrubs. Ila and REN, both chemical-free brands, are used for facials and skin treatments.
The in-house gym has state-of-the-art Technogym machines in a lovely setting overlooking yet more pine trees. There is a spacious and airy reformer Pilates and yoga studio, and there are regular, scheduled sessions as well as private lessons on offer.
Pool and beach
Through the changing rooms it’s possible to access the main indoor lap pool, which has a glass ceiling and glass walls, beautiful in summer and presumably fabulous in winter too. Adjacent, but separated by a floor-to-ceiling glass wall, is the outdoor heated pool – not large enough for laps but certainly big enough to accommodate a decent number of guests in need of a relaxing dip and drink post-ski or hike.
There aren’t any specific children’s activities, although there were plenty of families staying at The Chedi when I was there. During the summer it’s mainly hiking and biking, and there are plenty of well-marked trails. There is also an 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course, and the hotel even has a selection of vintage cars available for hire to recreate the famous scene in Goldfinger, filmed nearby. During winter months there are 120 kilometres of ski slopes plus cross-country options, snowshoe trails and sledge runs. And with your personal ski butler, The Chedi ensures you make the most of your time outside the hotel.
Staff and service
The staff went out of their way to make my stay comfortable. The lobby and concierge staff were polite and efficient to the maximum.
There were many extra touches that made the service here notable. On arrival I bemoaned the fact that I was ill prepared for the cold evenings, and warm jumpers were promptly provided. My companion mentioned that she had two children at home and two child-sized pairs of Chedi slippers were produced to take back as gifts. Little touches made the experience here very memorable indeed.
Given the size of the hotel, it seems to attract a mixed bag, from clients in Andermatt on business, families, couples, and even small groups of friends away for some pampering or golf. I didn’t pick up on anyone too glitzy, but all guests were quietly elegant and sophisticated.
On departure, my car was ready and waiting, check-out was brief and efficient, and I was sent on my way.
How to get there
1 hour 30 minutes by road transfer fro Zurich Airport
123 Rooms & Suites