It was overcast when I arrived in Zermatt so I didn’t see it at first. It was only when I arrived back at Chalet Ulysse after a brief stroll around town that the clouds cleared and it emerged in front of my eyes: the Matterhorn, right there, looming large outside the living room window.
It’s easy to see why the Winkelmatten area is dubbed the Beverly Hills of Zermatt. Not only does it have a lofty view of the famous mountain with its wonky summit, but it’s also an upmarket, tranquil and chic residential district… on a hill. With a mixture of modern chalets and charmingly dilapidated mazots (traditional Swiss wooden grainstores), it’s a pleasure to explore. The sun terrace of the Sonnmatten restaurant is a great place to ogle the Matterhorn over a beer – and, handily, it’s right opposite the chalet.
Part of a portfolio of properties run by a British couple, Ed and Suzanne Mannix, Chalet Ulysse is a delight to come home to. Unlike the impersonal luxury of some hotels, it feels luxurious but not grand or pretentious. It’s a home from home, a place to relax in, ideal for groups looking for convivial evenings round the dinner table.
The ground-floor apartment, where I stayed, has two generously sized bedrooms and a large living space with leather sofas, a dining table and well-equipped kitchen. There’s a big television, HiFi system, a few books in the bedroom, a capsule coffee machine, good quality toiletries in the spacious bathroom and even a sauna in the basement.
The décor is in keeping with the chocolate-box surroundings but isn’t overdone. Typically Swiss motifs of skiers, chamois and edelweiss feature on the curtains and tablecloth, there’s a black and white cowhair armchair in the living area, and etchings of the Matterhorn on the walls.
Ed and Suzanne provide some basics on arrival, such as tea and coffee, a jar of honey and fruit juice in the fridge. Plus, there’s a bakery next door. But if you’re self-catering and need more supplies it’s easy to catch the bus (red line) to the supermarkets in town as it stops right outside the chalet. Electric taxis also trundle near-silently through the streets, particularly handy late at night when the buses have stopped running (Zermatt’s legendary nightlife must be sampled, after all).
In the morning, it’s best to use your feet to get to the Matterhorn Express gondola. It’s just a five-minute downhill walk from the chalet, making it easy to take the first lift up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise before the crowds arrive. And when you arrive back at the chalet after a long day’s hiking or skiing there’s only one way to round off your day’s exertions: a drink on the chalet’s little terrace, sun hopefully beating away the clouds to leave you with that wonderful view of Switzerland’s most iconic mountain.
With a mixture of modern luxury chalets for rental with companies such as The Luxury Chalet Company, and charmingly dilapidated mazots, which are traditional Swiss wooden grainstores, there is plenty to choose from when looking for something a little different and more authentic in the Swiss Alps.
Chalet Ulysse, Staldenstrasse 112, 3920 Zermatt, Switzerland.
Tel: +41 79 247 1588
The chalet is a 20-minute walk from the centre of town/rail station on the route of the red line bus, which follows a loop.
Type of Chalet: Private chalet that can be catered or self-catered, as requested
Number of Rooms: The ground-floor apartment sleeps up to 4 in two rooms. The main chalet sleeps up to 8 in four rooms across two levels. The two apartments can either be used separately or altogether for large groups, and has free Wi-Fi.
Insider Tip: The Sonnmatten Restaurant opposite the chalet does a wonderful four-course set menu each night.
Price Band: Medium (around 230 CHF a night per person including meals, based on 12 sharing in March).
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Caroline Bishop is a freelance journalist who swapped city life in London for outdoor adventures in Switzerland where she writes about travel, food and culture.
Photographs courtesy of Matterhorn Chalets