You can tell a lot about the thoughtfulness of luxury hotels by their bathrobes. White robes tend to go grey. Most robes are too short, unflattering even for the legs of, say, George Clooney or Sharon Stone. The robes at The Chedi Andermatt are mushroom-coloured, which goes with colourways of the bedrooms. They feel cashmere-like, and have big enough pockets to hold lots of things. They have hoods, so you can hide after a facial. And, what is more, says the gal, they come right down to the ground.
I was on my way to a final session. I wanted to try the spa’s thermal pools. Set side by side in an area 100 feet long, with lovely warming fires at each end, are big pools at 32 degrees, 38 degrees and 42 degrees. Get out, and plunge down into the cold tub (18 degrees). Then there is a dilemma. Should I try the 40-degree or the 48-degree herbal steam room, or the 45-degree or 70-degree sauna? Too many decisions. Back in the lobby, I admired yet again the front desk, with its back wall of a working wine cellar – and the desk, by the way, extends a full 100 feet to become a sit-anywhere bar.
There is another bar, too, a cosy area that is very popular with the good burghers of Andermatt. A cigar room, stocked by Gérard Père et Fils from Geneva, has two levels of books, not only on cigars. I could not see a ladder to climb up but apparently there is, and it is bound to be elegant (this is the hotel, by the way, where sugar is served in Regency-shaped silver pots, with matching sugar tongs). I think I would borrow books from the library and sit, well, just anywhere in the main lobby, that flows from one area to another, and on to The Restaurant. Soon there will also be a boutique, aimed at the Hermès rather than the Gucci crowd.
I learn so much, here in Andermatt. I learn about the cheese, the Alpkäse cheese that is highly aromatic from the herbs in pastures where 1,200 cattle spend their summers, high above the village. There is a walk-in, glass-walled cheese room in The Restaurant. The chef shows me cow cheese that are still too young, that need to wait another couple of years. The really-local is Unteralp Andermatt, and I also love the taste of Sittlisalp, from a full 15 minutes away. He suggests a Chedi cheese plate, which comes with a butter brioche – yes, they are founder members of the Cow Appreciation Society here, and while at breakfast there are full-pound rectangles of salted and unsalted for you to taste, at lunch and dinner you get your own icecream-scoop shape.
It is time to move on from this luxury hotel, the dream that Samih Sawiris is creating. The Audi-Q7, with its WiFi-gig, is waiting. We drive slowly through Andermatt village, passing exquisite chocolate-box buildings that you cannot believe are real, and then quickly onto the motorway back to Zurich.