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Food and drink

The Riffelalp Resort's rates include half-board, so you'll be eating on the premises at least some of the time.

A good-sized chunk of the Riffelalp Resort's payroll is spent on the kitchen staff, to judge from the labor-intensive nature of the food served. The menu tends to be heavy on dishes that emphasize preparation and presentation, in the Swiss luxury-hotel tradition that says "Unless it looks pretty and has a French name, it doesn't belong in a five-star dining room."

The main Alexandre Restaurant's service staff consists mostly of young German waitresses who are unfailingly cheerful, polite, and attentive to the guest's needs. A mâitre d' in the requisite black tie circulates among the diners, but the overall atmosphere has more in common with an upscale American restaurant than with the formal dining room of a hotel like Badrutt's Palace in St. Moritz. (Leave your tuxedo or evening gown at home, but do pack your suit or a nice dress.)

Downstairs, the Walliser Keller serves fondue, raclette, and other traditional alpine dishes in an informal setting.

Bars include the Lodge (a comfortable piano bar/lounge with 70 seats) and the Vinotek wine bar in the basement, which wasn't yet open at the time of my visit. In sunny weather, you can eat, snack, or drink on an outdoor terrace that attracts skiers from the groomed runs that pass the hotel.

Observations, quibbles, tips:

  • The breakfast buffet is extremely generous, with everything from croissants and cheeses to sausages and scrambled or soft-boiled eggs. But in an Alpine setting, hearty peasant breads or a few distinctively Walliser specialties would be appropriate additions to the menu.

  • The Walliser Keller's raclettes and fondues offer a pleasant change from the international cuisine of the main dining room, but the hors d'oeuvres and desserts are identical with those served upstairs. (There's something vaguely disconcerting about starting off a rustic meal of melted cheese, potatoes, and pickled onions with a slice of seafood paté.)

  • In the Walliser Keller, don't sit at the bar if you want fondue. There just isn't room for both your plate and a fondue pot. (It's also a good idea to book ahead for the Walliser Keller, which has only 40 seats at a handful of tables and the small bar.)

  • Try the wines of the Valais region with your meal. (But be careful--alcohol works more quickly at high altitudes!)

  • The Riffelalp Resort provides guests with a free roundtrip to Zermatt on the Gornergrat cogwheel railway each evening, so take advantage of the Seiler Hotels' "Dine-Around" option if you're staying more than a few days. The Riffelalp's concierge will reserve a table for you at any of the nine Seiler restaurants in Zermatt.

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Riffelalp articles: Photo galleries: Zermatt articles:
Riffelalp Resort Historical photos Zermatt (Winter)
Historical overview The new hotel Gornergrat Railway
Reviewer's notes Zermatt skiing Matterhorn
Related Web links Zermatt village Glacier Express