With Zermatt opening this weekend, we share an insider’s tips to the resort

Ski instructor and Matterhorn Chalets owner Ed Mannix gives his insider tips on how to get the most of a visit to the idyllic Swiss resort

lightly dusted village of zermatt sits in a cradle of mountains with matterhorn rising high as backdrop

Words | Iain Martin

Where’s the best spot for a pre-ski coffee?

It depends on which lift you’re starting at. If I’m waiting for clients (Ed is an instructor with Stoked Ski School) at the Matterhorn Glacier gondola, then I head to Restaurant Klein Matterhorn immediately opposite. It’s run by a husband-and-wife team: he’s Italian, she’s Swiss. There’s none of the nonsense you get with some coffee bars – it’s just good coffee in a small cup.

If you’re taking the Gornergrat railway as first lift then drop into the Bahnhof Buffet. If I’m meeting people at Sunnegga, I’ll meet them up top, so my early morning caffeine hit will be from the café just beside the self-service restaurant. It’s always popular with instructors and pisteurs first thing.

Where’s the best place to photograph the Matterhorn on the slopes?

For the classic Toblerone view of the Matterhorn head to the top of the Rothorn cable car or take the train for a magical ski down on flattering blue runs from Gornergrat.

What’s the best way to avoid the crowds on the slopes?

Ski down to Stafel from Schwarzsee in the morning and do laps of the Stafel and Weise Perle red runs using the Hirli chairlift. It’ll be cold but the snow will be perfect and you’ll have the mountain to yourself

Best mountain lunch?

This is definitely the Findlerhof. It used to be known informally as ‘Franz and Heidi’s’, but both original owners have retired, and it’s now run by their son, Frankie. It’s the best food on the mountain by a country mile.

Chez Vrony is great on occasion, but you could call it ‘blingy’. People go to Chez Vrony to be seen, but they go to the Findlerhof for the food.

Favourite run?

This wouldn’t be everyone’s choice, but I love skiing the black run from Furgg to Furi in the morning. It’s always best to ski it before lunch: depending on the conditions, it can go from Zermatt’s best run to its worst. 

If I am instructing, I love to take my guests all the way to Klein Matterhorn and ski all the way back to Zermatt. It’s a massive vertical drop of over 2200m and is a beautiful run in the mornings. 

Best après ski venue?

Most people say the Hennenstahl, but I don’t agree. Each to their own, but to me, it’s a lot of loud music and a very boozy clientele. 

In the spring, I love the Schmuggler-Höhle for a great après spot at the end of the day. The Cervo is expensive but has a great atmosphere and good music. 

Favourite restaurant?

Le Gitan has swish international style and is right in the centre of town. It’s informal with a good menu and cool vibes. 

The dining room in the Omnia is very impressive and well worth a visit. The menu is pretty imaginative, too.

Tell us a secret about Zermatt…

While the trains in Switzerland are excellent, you can save a lot of time by taking a taxi all the way from the airport to the resort. There’s no need to change trains at Visp and Täsch. Only official companies are allowed to drive all the way to Zermatt, but this is something Matterhorn Chalets can book for guests through our concierge service. 

For more Zermatt ski intel and alternative opinions on where to hang out, check our Local’s Guide to Zermatt: