| Travel, Lifestyle, zermatt,

The Highest Spa in Europe – Riffelalp 2’222 mt

Beatrice Lessi


I knew Riffelalp Resort had a view, and a very special one from its iconic outdoor pool, but I didn’t expect that, when I arrived. This incredible location is a sunny, relatively flat spot that has a lot of light even during short winter days, and, above all, offers grand, open views of the Matterhorn from every angle.

Red Train or Tram

Riffelalp is 400 mt. above the famous Swiss village of Zermatt. To get there, one needs to get on a typical Swiss red train, called  Gornergrat Bahn in this case, to reach the resort. The train features huge glass windows to see the Matterhorn and the fresh snow from every seat. People don’t watch their phones here; the view is mesmerising.

Arriving at Riffelalp, the hotel staff puts your luggage on a skidoo, something that looks like a cross between a motorbike and a snowcat. You can either walk to reception or have a taxi ride on the fancy bike.

In summer, the highest tram in Europe waits at Riffelalp station to take you on what is probably the shortest tram ride in the world to the Riffelalp Resort.

With my husband, we checked in and then had lunch at delicious restaurant Alexander.

After enjoying the mountain views and playing in the snow, we decided the following day would be dedicated to fitness.

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The Riffelalp Skidoo

Spa at 2’222 mt.

Early in the morning, I had a run with my dog Simba. After such an active start, a relaxing day at the spa was a treat I was looking forward to. I wasn’t disappointed, because the spa was actually more impressive than I expected. The outdoor pool is attached to a bigger indoor pool with bubble bath, fireplace and lounge area. Downstairs, a Chriiter Grotto   –  an almost scary dark cave with waterfalls, stones, ice flakes, pink steam and saline baths – was a great prelude to the warm rooms upstairs: a hot whirlpool, a Finnish sauna, a very comfortable bio sauna at “just” 50 degrees, complete with relaxing classical music, and a relaxation room.

We stayed one night and decided not to ski. However, the Riffelalp Resort is in the middle of the world famous Zermatt ski resort – the ski slopes go directly past the hotel – and is a perfect ski-in, ski-out hotel.

Yoga at the pool

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On the right, the “Don’t Swim! Danger of Crocodiles” sign

Decor and Overall Feeling

Riffelalp Resort is a traditional, wooden chalet style building with all the comforts of a five stars hotel. It opened in 1884 and quickly became a playground for Europe’s high society. One can feel its history, its Swissness and how intact it is.

Half-board guests can dine in partner restaurants in the village. The hotel’s train brings night owls back to the Riffelalp free of charge until 11.30 pm. But most of them prefer to stay in heaven on earth at 2,222 metres  above sea level, and enjoy the distance from the rest of the world.

Since I started writing for the Swiss Deluxe Hotels magazine, people ask me what’s my favourite hotel. I don’t have one single answer – it depends for what and can also change. But Riffelalp is the most spectacular of them all. The kind of understated luxury one can find here is unparalleled. Riffelalp is not huge, is not imitating anything else, is pure tradition with a touch of art, and finally is the most popular and photographed location in Switzerland. With a feeling of lightness and warmth one can only find in the mountains.

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Sheep sculptures are repeated everywhere in the resort

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Bathrooms are modern and spacious (don’t we all love that?)

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Traditional mountain decor at Riffelalp

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I loved the details of the lights in our room

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Room with a view – nor surprisingly!


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The library at the lounge

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Fresh snow just around the main entrance

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Feeling like a kid

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Morning run in the mountains



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