Zermatt may have a reputation for fine dining and an intimidatingly formal atmosphere, but there is a whole world of great partying, avant-garde cocktail bars and friendly pubs to be discovered. Read on to find out the 10 best nightlife spots in Zermatt.
Stars Bar Courtesy Grand Hotel Zermatterhof
Ruden Bar and Stars Bar
The Ruden Bar and Stars Bar are part of the five-star Zermatterhof hotel, built by a 19th century citizens’ cooperative and central to the town’s history as a world-renowned ski resort. The Ruden has a more relaxed atmosphere, with an open fireplace and a selection of snacks, making it a great place for a casual chat or meeting. The Stars Bar, on the other hand, is slightly more formal and sophisticated, with an extensive cocktail menu and decor resembling a Victorian gentlemen’s club.
The famous Papperla Pub has become something of an institution in Zermatt. The team and patrons are a very international crowd, and regular live music adds to the perpetual party atmosphere. Come in after a day on the slopes for a mug of steaming hot Glühwein (mulled wine), or Jägertee (strong rum punch). Although the most iconic images of Papperla Pub show visitors’ skis lined up in the snow around the walls of the pub, the place is also open in the summer, when you can enjoy its warm hospitality al fresco.
Featuring a cigar lounge, dance floor, and expertly crafted cocktails, Cuckoo Club is the ideal venue for an evening of uninhibited indulgence. DJ Toney D, resident DJ for Winter 2015, is a giant of the Swiss dance music scene and spends most summers delighting party goers in Ibiza. Resident mixologist Maria will make you any classic cocktail you like and surprise you with some innovative twists on old favorites, too.
Bar, Coffee Shop, Irish, Swiss, European, Coffee, $$$
Head to Elsie’s Bar, one of Zermatt’s legendary nightlife spots, for a taste of classic Valais-style hospitality. The bar has been around since the early 1960s, when members of the jet set would head to Elsie’s for some Irish coffee or escargots, with a side of rustic charm. Today, it is still the best place in Zermatt if you prefer to have your caviar and champagne in cosy, wood-panelled surroundings.
The unpretentious watering hole of North Wall Bar is a favorite haunt of locals and ski resort workers, but welcoming to anyone looking for genuine, unpolished fun. Expect affordable beer and homemade pizza, the occasional crazy costume party, and regulars who are happy to chat about anything from skiing to politics.
Part of the stylish Backstage Hotel, Vernissage is a combination of cinema, bar and contemporary art gallery. Here, you can have a cocktail next to the glass-walled projectionist’s booth, or dance the night away under chandeliers made from old film reels. The music is best described as eclectic and alternative, with concerts and club nights like “Matterhorny”, where “electro meets handmade sounds”, dominating the calendar. Vernissage is hands down the edgiest bar in Zermatt, where you can take a break from the typical alpine ambience of most other venues.
One of the newest sports bars in Zermatt, The Cable Car is a lively, sociable venue where you can enjoy a pint and meet new people over a game of pool, darts, or even bowling. Major sporting events, like the Six Nations Championship, are screened at The Cable Car, which also hosts a weekly open mic night. As might be expected for a venue that hosts events like the “Ultimate” UV Party, The Cable Car’s patrons tend to be younger and very international.
For a more sophisticated and quiet night out, head to Hotel Alex, where the atmosphere is a combination of rustic Swiss chalet and opulent 19th century mansion. The drinks menu is definitely on par with the best cocktail bars in the area, but what really sets Hotel Alex apart are the delicate crepes and blinis (with salmon or caviar) that are served in the early evening.
A truly authentic, chalet-style pub, Z’Alt Hischi is small but perfectly equipped to offer a splendid après-ski experience. The house speciality is homemade Eierlikör (advocaat), which warms you up wonderfully on a cold winter’s day (especially when mixed with coffee). Z’Alt Hischi is located on one of the busiest streets in Zermatt, but the ambience inside is that of a quaint village pub.
The Cavern probably has the most unusual setting of any bar in Zermatt: deep within a cliff. Technically, the bar is in the basement of the Omnia hotel, but its glass walls and clever lighting mean that bar patrons can see the rock surfaces all around them and genuinely feel like they are in a cave. Aside from the spectacular ambience, The Cavern has plenty of other draws, like the ever-changing lineup of live music from local and regional acts, and excellent cocktails.