Despite everything, there will be a smattering of bookings over the coming season in most resorts. Some folks will find the wherewithal to travel and enjoy a week or two in the snow. It’s been very tough for the travel industry so I guess we have to be very grateful for small mercies. All that aside here’s where it gets good. And something I’m very much looking forward too. A spot of apres-ski! After a beautiful day on the mountain, many, me included, feel the need to celebrate our efforts by letting our hair down usually aided by a cheeky beer or three. A beer or three? Ha, who am I kidding , it’s usually much more than that. And anyway, it would be rude not to. Hence the popularity of apres-ski. Zermatt has many lively apres-ski bars. Here are 4 of the best, Bring it on!, I’ve missed it.
While skiing down the lower section of the Furi-Zermatt slope you’ll probably hear the pumping house beats or the Hennu Stall house band giving it some. Like wasps round a jam jar, you’ll next see the happy throng bobbing up and down on the terrace. This is party central and one of Zermatt’s liveliest and some would say craziest apres-ski bars. Dancing on the tables is par for the course and many a ski suit has been cast skyward as some over enthusiastic crazy has decided to strip down to his Calvin Kleins and beyond. Fancy dress is often seen here, with anything from Captain Chaos to Buzz Lightyear throwing shapes on the dance floor. You don’t have to join in, of course, you can just watch from a distance and enjoy the shenanigans, albeit wearing a face splitting grin. The fun is infectious, aided of course by the consumption of a beer, gluwein or a cheeky Jägermeister.
A novelty here is an old ski made into a drinks tray, usually lined up with Jägermeister shots. Jägermeister’s ingredients include 56 herbs, fruits, roots, and spices, including citrus peel, licorice, anise, poppy seeds, saffron, ginger, juniper berries and ginseng. These ingredients are ground, then steeped in water and alcohol for 2–3 days. Afterwards, this mixture is filtered and stored in oak barrels for about a year. When a year has passed, the liqueur is filtered again, then mixed with sugar, caramel, alcohol and water. It is filtered one last time and then bottled. Contrary to an urban legend, Jägermeister doesn’t contain deer or elk blood but it is bottled rocket fuel and at 35% proof you’ll soon be flying after you’ve necked a couple of these bad boys.
Hennu Stall can be reached easily on foot from Zermatt in 30 minutes, or you can take the Klein bubble up to Furi and then ski or walk down. It is virtually impossible to spend a skiing holiday in Zermatt without getting to know about Hennu Stall and it’s legendary status.
If you’ve not had enough and you want to carry on the party in town your next stop should be the Paperla Pub. Open 365 days a year, you know the place is popular by the amount of ski’s propped up outside the bar.
Live music, DJs, a cosmopolitan crowd and a crew that encourages a great atmosphere and a spontaneous party mood are all the ingredients you want for an apres-ski party. In winter, après-ski starts daily around 4 pm. Those who like hot drinks can celebrate with Jägertee and mulled wine on the terrace. Or settle into the warm interior of the Irish pub style bar and catch the vibe. Stu and Ronnie are the bars resident fire starters. They never seem to get tired of whipping the crowd into a frenzy with jolly japes and drinking games. They can often be seen cavorting atop the bar egging each other on to even more outrageous dares. It’s a lot of fun and as cabaret goes, it’s certainly original. Stu and Ronnie have become good friends of mine and they never stop with the fun, even on their rare nights off they are party starters. They are a couple of naturals and the Paperla Pub owes it’s legendary status to their never ending good humour.
If you’re coming down the mountain on the Sunnegga side your first port of call should be the Cervo. This is a stunning venue set amongst the snow dusted pines.
The Cervo is a hotel first and foremost which boasts a large outside terrace for a spot of apres-ski. The Cervo is situated in a delightful spot, on the side of the piste and après-ski is part of the Cervo lifestyle and concept which they boast is the most sophisticated in the Alps. With different bands and DJ’s the entertainment is varied and lively and the setting couldn’t be better. If you want a more refined apres-ski experience the Cervo, with it’s cigar room and selection of local beers is the place for you. Less raucous than the Henna Stall or the Paperla Pub, the Cervo offers a more dignified experience. Being a hotel, the apres-ski winds up early but you can summon an electric taxi or ask for the code to the private lift that will deposit you in town so you can party on.
And you’ll want to continue the party in the Snowboat, which is actually in town. This enchanting and unique boat-shaped building by the river is home to the Snowboat Bar and Yacht Club Restaurant. The venue was designed by local legend, Heinz Julen. His projects are talked about in reverential tones and attract a lot of interest worldwide.
The Snowboat is a lively venue serving après-ski drinks and wholesome à la carte as well as exquisite cocktails made with premium spirits, fresh ingredients and lots of love. The Snowboat is legendary in Zermatt and a favourite haunt of the locals, who obviously have insider knowledge and know all the best places. The Snowboat is a more sophisticated apres-ski venue, a virtue it shares with the Cervo. Getting up the next morning to catch the early lifts might be tricky but you’re guaranteed a great vibe and a hospitality that makes the Snowboat packed most nights.
Danny Frith is Director at SkiBoutique. SkiBoutique is a luxury ski chalet agency based in Switzerland.