Monday, September 24, 2012

Hotel Alpenroyal, Zermatt

My take on a short stay at the Hotel Alpenroyal in Zermatt, Switzerland.

Zermatt is a car – free community; you will need to leave your car in Taesch (The very convenient covered car park right at the train station will cost you CHF 14.50 / AUD 14.90 per day) and travel the rest of the way by train.

Transfer to the hotel is available; ring ahead (+41 27 966 60 66) to have a member of the hotel staff waiting for you at Zermatt railway station, to take you to the hotel by electric cart, the only 'motorized' means of transport available to the public in Zermatt. Although the hotel's price lists state that this transfer will cost you CHF 6.00 / AUD 6.20) per person per way, you may be able to negotiate this additional charge away.
Battery powered cabs waiting for business at the Zermatt train station
Hotel services
Check – in is efficient and friendly. A majority of the staff seems to be foreign; a very common situation across the Swiss hospitality industry. The hotel features a cozy bar, restaurant, and basic wellness facilities (indoor pool, spa, steam – bath).

The restaurant is open for dinner only from 7 pm to 9 pm; and worse, you may be advised in the morning of some days that due to a 'lack of demand', it will be closed altogether. However, the staff are open to negotiation and can be talked into firing up the kitchen after all – but having to fight for what you thought was a basic and guaranteed service is not what you might call a relaxing holiday experience. The dinner menu provides a reasonable choice of meals, and the quality of the food is good.

Breakfast is included in the room rate, and consists of a well – stocked buffet.

The rooms
The furniture and appliances seem to be quite dated; in particular the dark carpet leaves a grubby impression, it's probably best not to even contemplate taking a single bare-footed step. Amenities are kept to a minimum, the rooms are definitely not littered with lavish luxuries. There's a small flat-screen TV with a reasonable selection of local and international stations, and the obligatory phone on the nightstand – but no alarm clock or radio. You also won't find a mini-bar, fridge, iron, or ironing board. Bathrobes are also missing from the wardrobe, but can be hired for the 'moderate' fee of CHF 15.00 (AUD 15.45).

The bathroom is stocked with just the basic essentials, too. You'll find a set of towels, a hair dryer, and a soap dispenser. There's also an identical dispenser mounted to the wall in the shower, presumably supplying some kind of shower gel; but as it's unlabeled, it could, for all I know, just as well be filled with groundhog spunk.

The heating radiator has seen better days
These minor quibbles aside, the rooms are clean and the beds are comfy. And while the hotel's web site makes no mention of it, the printed brochure advises that complimentary WiFi is available "in the lobby and bar area". That WiFi signal extends to at least some of the rooms and provides pretty good connection speeds.

The Alpenroyal covers your basic needs for a short-term stay. Its elevated location on the outskirts of the village provide brilliant views of Mount Matterhorn, at least from the (more expensive) Deluxe rooms. The rooms are clean and functional, but in need of an update. The rooms' standard definitely doesn't reflect the rates; the Alpenroyal certainly doesn't do anything to dispel the 'poor value for money' reputation Switzerland's hospitality sector has been struggling with for quite some time.

View from one of the Deluxe rooms

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