Condé Nast Traveller - Hot List 2012
May 2012


Backstage Zermatt In the shadow of the Matterhorn this glass-and-steel construction -- part-Swiss chalet, part-Manhattan loft -- is the vision of Heinz and Evelyne Julen, also behind Vernissage, the 20-year-old art and entertainment complex in the basement of the same building. With its buzzing bar, gallery and performance space, this is where young Swiss bands play live gigs. Upstairs, the hotel’s 19 rooms are decked out in industrial-style decor incorporating brushed stainless steel, distressed leather and sepia-tinted site plans framed on the walls. Much of the hotel’s quirky furniture (including chandeliers constructed from trumpets, saxophones, strands of silver beads and disco balls) can be purchased at the next-door store, a cornucopia of design by the Julen duet. There’s also a new lounge-restaurant serving light and locally-grown organic fare, and guests can experience ‘cine-dinners’ during intervals at the Vernissage movie theatre. A trailblazing new spa has seven treatment ‘cubes’, representing the seven days of creation including a sauna with a slideshow of images taken from the Hubble Telescope and a flotation chamber playing a soundtrack of whale song. It’s everything you might want from a gritty urban bolthole -- yet this is one of Switzerland’s loveliest traditional villages, with access to miles of ski slopes and a few steps from the platform of the Glacier Express connecting Zermatt to St Moritz.

When to go: New Year, to combine serious skiing with a proper party.

Room to book: one of the six split-level, cube-shaped lofts designed by Heinz Julen and showcasing his original artworks.