Perfect Matterhorn

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Text Daniel Bauchervez / Photo Parkhotel Beau Site AG
Date of publication Winter 2020-2021

It was the golden era of alpinism, 1907, when the Grand Hôtel Beau Site first opened its doors. Five floors of exceptionally luxurious rooms looking out to the Matterhorn. 113 years later, the hotel retains all of its charm and has recently been modernized.

 

1907. Theodore Roosevelt is President of the United States, Nicolas II Emperor of All Russia and Edouard VII has recently inherited the throne from his mother, Queen Victoria. In South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi is calling for passive resistance and in Finland, the first women are being elected as Members of Parliament. In Zermatt, all at the same time, the Gornergrat train is attracting growing numbers of tourists and aristocrats up the mountains. Beau Site is the hip place to be in the summer — and soon enough in the winter, too, when the trains decide, in 1928, to push their way up to Zermatt even after the first snowfall.
The grande dame’s grandiose facade leads into a main hall where Hercule Poirot would have fit right in, sitting next to a wood fed fire in the colder months. Parkhotel Beau Site embodies the traditions of Swiss hospitality, with the added bonus of a Matterhorn wake-up. Its impeccable service and irreproachable comfort are maintained by a team of 65 dedicated employees in peak season. It’s everything cosy luxury should be, without the stuffy attitude.

A hotel for all seasons
Respect for the past doesn’t mean living in the past. The hotel underwent major renovations in autumn 2019, notably in the lobby, the reception area, the bar and the restaurants. In 2016, the spa had already been revamped with a cool 30°C pool, two large 36°C Jacuzzis, a hammam, a Finish sauna and a vitarium (a sauna-steam bath combo, with cooler temperatures). Here, whether you choose hot stones, ayurvedic with sesame oil, or Hawaiian lomi lomi style for your massage, you’re sure to be pampered.

In the evening, retire to one of the hotel’s classic rooms in the main building, or in the adjoining Villa, built in 2010. Its more modern rooms are also bigger and boast larger windows. But no matter where you sleep, you’re guaranteed an incredible view of the Matterhorn. Some rooms can even enjoy the mountain view from bed, and the exceptional Beau Site tower suite has a private veranda (reached via a glass spiral staircase), which will take your breath away with over 180° of exceptional views.

Honouring local growers
The dining table at Beau Site has also evolved. The Grill, its main restaurant, now serves high-quality meats and fish in an updated setting. Regional and seasonal products are a key part of the menu here. Chef Christoph Nienstedt, who worked for the Swedish Royal Family 30 years back before adopting Switzerland, makes his own sausage, dried meats, and exceptional dishes sourced from local suppliers like the Riffelalp Alpine cooperative (providing the beef) and the Ebneter organic farm (for the pork and lamb).  The yogurt hails from the local Horu Dairy, the cheese is from Stafelalp, and the Emmental is made by Jumi. All these products are part of the generous breakfast offer and can also be found at 3 Seasons, the hotel’s new self-serve restaurant. And let’s not forget about the ample wine cellar. Here, Valais wines rub shoulders with Italian and French elixirs, which can be savoured at tastings at the hotel’s vinotheque, Divine. And if you’re looking for something other than wine, try the hotel’s Bar 1907, also recently updated, but still retaining all the classic charm of the Belle Epoque, complete with a live pianist after 6 p.m.

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