As a member of one of the farming families who owned Zermatt in the pre-tourist era, architect-designer Heinz Julen had all the right connections to make an impact on his ultra-conservative home town. The Matterhorn Focus is the latest showcase for his cutting-edge vision. The hotel, which opened last summer, stands just above the Matterhorn Express gondola, the centre of the Zermatt lift system. It is also just a 15-minute walk from the village centre.
Glass walls maximise views, with 20 of the 30 rooms facing the mountain, pictured, and the remainder overlooking Zermatt. The oak floors are heated and there's slate in the bathrooms. The cupboards are glass-fronted but the minimalist style is softened by ostrich-plumed bedside lights, comfortable sofas and pony-skin chairs. There are seven suites named for local peaks. Many rooms have spacious balconies or terraces.
The food and drink
The owners, Chris and Sonia Noti, have two small children so they decided only to offer breakfast in their opening year. The buffet breakfast is served in the atrium dining area under contemporary metal chandeliers and lamps hung with sparkling chains. Drinks are available throughout the day at the integrated bar or in two side rooms, one a library with pony-skin seats, the other a snug with a roaring wood fire.
The wellness centre is a major feature. It has a curvy swimming pool overlooked by the bar area and a tunnel to the terrace whirlpool. Robed guests lounge on wide wooden sofas or take advantage of a range of treatments.
All visitors enter via a tunnel and a lift, excellent for wheelchair users, though risky for all in the event of a power cut – presumably rare in Switzerland. Two of the rooms have showers and toilets adapted for guests with disabilities. The lifts have raised script for the different floors to orient the partially sighted.
B&B in a double costs £150 per night in January.
Hotel Matterhorn Focus, Winkelmattenweg 32, CH 3920 Zermatt (00 41 27 966 2424, www.matterhornfocus.ch).