THE WEEKEND: Ask any sweaty, AC-deprived Londoner during the recent heatwave, and they’ll tell you that the city is no place to spend summer. It’s no surprise then that during warmer months, the average Swiss city-dweller will flee to the cool of the nearby mountains whenever they get the chance. The postcard-pretty Alpine enclave of Andermatt is a favourite summertime escape among the Swiss, with outdoor activities aplenty, a buzzy cultural calendar and a little dose of luxury.
WHERE? Andermatt is located in the Central Swiss Alps, just 70 minutes from Zurich and 45 minutes from Lucerne, but feels worlds away. Veiled in fields of wildflowers, dense forests and frothing, colourless waterfalls, this is the kind of landscape that makes it onto the silver screen (see: the 1960s Bond flick Goldfinger). The great outdoors are especially great here with over 500 kilometres of hiking trails and four theatrical mountain passes (Gotthard Pass; Göscheneralp Pass; Oberalp Pass; and Furka Pass—of aforementioned Bond-movie fame) for cycling and car chases – er, scenic drives.
THE STAY: There’s a handful of guesthouses available in Andermatt, as well as a Radisson Blu hotel, but the place to stay is the 123-room Chedi Andermatt, an Alpine-meets- Asian designer retreat, which is not only one of the best hotels in the Swiss Alps but also thankfully open for summer. Spoiling hotel highpoints include impossibly plush Hästens beds; a dazzling spa with indoor and outdoor pools; and a cigar library—the largest of any hotel in the world—with over 900 cigars from 15 countries. Recently, the hotel revealed a new partnership with Audi and Harley Davidson, offering up the latest electric models of their vehicles for guests to use, alongside their signature Morgan 4/4 classic car.
THE FOOD: Located 2,300 metres above sea level on the Gütsch mountain station and only accessible by cable car, The Japanese by The Chedi is the most famous restaurant in town. The Michelin-starred, dizzyingly high hotspot is only open for lunch, but the same award-winning five- to ten-course Kaiseki menus (plus sake pairings) can also be enjoyed in the evenings in the fireplace-bedecked main hotel. You will not go hungry in this chic-but-cosy hideaway, and other culinary highlights include a two-storey “cheese tower” of exclusively Swiss cheeses and an impressive wine list, the majority of which is Swiss.
ASK ABOUT: Born-and-bred Andermatt guide Bänz Simmen. This man (bookable via The Chedi) is Andermatt personified and somewhat of a local legend: snag him for a foraging walk to source wild cumin, snow sorel (which works beautifully in salads and tastes like green apples), and wild blueberries, so juicy and blue they’ll stain your fingers. Simmen will also show you Andermatt’s famed Devil’s Bridge, a one-time highlight of the Victorian grand tour. For those more interested in fauna than flora, there’s a new High-Altitude Safari at The Chedi for spotting Andermatt’s very own ‘Big Five,’ made up of the marmot, billy goat, chamois, falcon and llama (first enlisted by Alpine shepherds to ward off wolves). Another way to make the most of the mountainscape is with a spin on the Glacier Express. Dating back to the 1930s, this candy-red, toy-like scenic train disembarks in Andermatt; and according to local rumours, is slated to be headquartered here in the near future.
NEED TO KNOW: Need To Know: Nightly rates at The Chedi Andermatt start from £680. thechediandermatt.com or call +41 41 888 74 88