Ski hotels have long had a bad rep for being just a pitstop for refueling and crashing rather than a destination in their own right. None of which has been helped by alpine style, a look that stubbornly refuse to move beyond pine panelling, chairs with cut-out hearts and red and white gingham cafe curtains.
All that's changed in recent years with swathe of new hotels interpreting 'modern' in clinical white, stainless steel and glass terms. The Schweizerhof, recently 'reimagined' in Zermatt is one place that's getting the vibe just right, striking the perfect happy medium between cool and comfortable.
It's fair to say the hotel, from the French designer Kristian Gavoille and the team behind Mama Shelter, caused something of a sensation when it opened earlier this season in Zermatt, a resort where the high-end venues have a kind of Mittel European twee-ness, exemplified by horsedrawn carriages and doormen in bowler hats and swirling capes.
You get none of that at The Schweizerhof. What you do get is a welcoming, open-plan public areas, lush decor and an overall put-your-feet-up-and-chill concept that's all about recreating the homely chalet experience, within a relaxed, luxury hotel environment.
Decor-wise, while high-end leather Italian furniture, shaggy occasional chairs, dark natural woods, French marble, copper Flos lighting and textured rugs all create the vibe of an upscale nightclub, there are discreet nods to the locale – here an ironic cowbells, there a stag's head peering out from between leather-bound books. Chunky 1970s-vintage table lamps and objets personally curated from brocantes across France all providing an earthy, rough-hewn vibe.
Public areas are designed for with small break out zones, leather bound books encouraging small intimate groups to form.
The food offering is equally informal. A fine dining option, La Muna, is a fusion Asian/Peruvian affair, where ceviche is the order of the day, making a refreshing change off the carb-heavy offerings you most likely get in the mountain-side restaurants.
Or for something more hearty, the more buzzy open-kitchen works the American barbecue concept with the biggest grill you've ever seen. Racks of meat, wood-fired pizzas are cooked upfor hungry skiers buoyed up with rosemary-infused Prosecco cocktails and laid back tracks from the nightly DJ bar. Après ski was never quite this sophisticated (or cool).
There's also a third offering, the Cheese Factory, which offers exactly what you'd expect. After all, what's a ski holiday without at least one fondue?
Bedrooms are spacious and have a distinctly Scandi hygge vibe, offset by shots of colour – terracotta or bottle green velvet – which softens the matt-oak panelling. Throws with mountain graphic prints nod to the environment outside.
The look may be trad, but the technology isn't, with everything from the heating and light settings to the music you listen to or the Netflix show you tune into, controllable from your in-room iPad. Which means never having to haul your sorry bones off the extra squishy beds. Although you'd be mad not to.Most rooms have a balcony and views of the Matterhorn.
Downstairs there's a lovely pool and a requisite sauna, hot tubs and steam room as well as a state of the art gym and even a kids club so the little ones can lose themselves in a movie afternoon while Mum and Dad have a few hours to themselves on the slopes.
The snow's still good (as are the cocktails) so there's still time for a cheeky break. Or make an early booking for next year.