The Swiss town of Andermatt is unlikely to be on your radar unless you’re a particularly adventurous skier or a James Bond fanatic, nestled as it is in a majestic corner of the Alps where Sean Connery’s Aston Martin shredded the tires of Tilly Masterson’s Ford Mustang in 1964’s Goldfinger.
Since 2014, however, there has been a new temptation to visit this former military town located in the heart of Switzerland: the Chedi Andermatt hotel.
The Chedi is the third property in a series that started in Bali and Muscat and the centrepiece of Andermatt’s effort to reinvent itself as a luxury tourist destination since the army closed their barracks in 2003.
Bankrolled by Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris – who has promised to transform Andermatt into the new St. Moritz – the Chedi was designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, arguably the most influential architect of luxury hotels working today.
The result is a five star hotel – for now, the only one around – that sits somewhat incongruously in a 1,200 population town where the restaurants, shops and skiing facilities are still catching up with the new, aspirational standards it has set, meaning the million dollar question for now is whether the Chedi is good enough on its own to justify by-passing Switzerland’s many other resorts and paying a visit.
The answer is yes, and not only because, for now at least, it remains a relatively cheaper way to experience luxury in the Swiss Alps, with rooms costing £338 per night in the low season and £473 during the high.
There are certain things you expect from a five star hotel, from first class service to fine dining to facilities that genuinely enrich your stay, and while the Chedi has those things in abundance, it has something else you can’t always rely on even when paying top dollar: atmosphere.
Gathy has created something truly special here, starting with the 15ft-high lobby and extending to every inch of the hotel’s rooms, restaurants and spa. His brief was to combine ‘Swissness with Asian influences’, and while it is the latter that dominates, the overall affect manages to be both stunning and relaxing at the same time.
His signatures are all there: high ceilings, reflection pools (this one situated in a courtyard framed by mountains) and those Buddha sculptures, but it is the ingenious use of space that most stands out. The Belgian knows how to use corners to create pockets of intimacy without sacrificing the sense of grandeur that comes with staying in a large, luxury hotel. Exploring the lobby, bar and excellent restaurants (one with a multi-leveled glass cheese room) is a joy in itself.
The spa, with both an indoor and outdoor pool (the latter heated, naturally) is excellent, offering a range of treatments and a basement room of hot pools that offer a genuine point of difference and another place to relax.
The rooms, though, may be the Chedi’s greatest strength, with even the cheapest offering generous amounts of space (another Gathy trademark) and a stylish finish made up of petrified wood, cool slate and luxurious leather. Even the corridors, lined with Oriental latticed lamps casting buttery patterns on the walls, are soothing.
In short the Chedi is a destination in itself, and when you combine that with the skiing – set to be vastly expanded and improved next year – and the options to play golf or drive a luxury car through some of the most stunning views of the Alps in Switzerland, you have a surprise romantic weekend break option that would make you look 007-level smooth.