Andermatt is a small mountain village at the historical center cross of the north-south and east-west traverses of Switzerland. It’s famous in car circles for access to four epic Alpine passes: the Oberalp Pass (2,044 m.) to the east, the St Gotthard Pass (2,106 m.) to the south, the Furka Pass (2,436 m.) to the west, and the Grimsel Pass (2,164 m.).

Driver note: The **Furka Pass is famous from a James Bond (Goldfinger) perspective, with dramatic turns. Above the treeline. Bumpy from the top of the pass going from the East side down to Realp (where you get the train). The rest is in good condition.  It’s also the home of the now-abandoned Hotel Gletscher Restaurant of not-Wes-Anderson fame.

The ***Grimsel Pass is technically in Bern/Valais, but conceptually I think of it as the pass to Andermatt. In great shape, lovely smooth driving conditions over dramatic vistas. Arguably Galen’s favorite pass in Switzerland. Don’t miss the turnoff to the older cobblestone stretch of the road. Opens late – limited summer only.

In winter, Andermatt surprisingly cute – after a long period of decline, there’s a fair amount of investment going into the area, and the historic streets of the old town are well preserved and lined with restaurants and boutiques. There’s a major new development in the north of town (“new Andermatt”), which reminds me of Northstar in Tahoe. Access is relatively easy via train (there’s a car train for drivers).

In summer, at the moment I’d consider it a drive-through destination. There’s a ton of construction – apartment highrises – after years of expanding the infrastructure of the ski area.

Skiing was very good. It’s very large – so large that they offer a special on the “apre-train,” to allow people to ski from one end and train back on the other. The equipment is very modern, which is reflected in the surprising 89 CHF lift ticket, the highest I’ve seen in Switzerland. The on piste runs are long, very steep, wide open, great views. It’s above tree line in glacier scree and boulders, so any off piste would require significant coverage.

We were very happy at **The River Hotel. It’s a locally-run boutique hotel, comfortable rooms, adjacent bar/casual restaurant. Good location, reasonably priced. No spa.

**Biselli, a newer restaurant in the new town, was great. It’s very modern/hip, food (Italian) was very well done, service friendly, and an excellent wine list.

On the slopes, **Ustria Alpsu was a good recommendation from our hotel – Italian-Swiss food, cozy setting near the lifts, friendly staff, large portions.

The Chedi

We ate at **The Restaurant at The Chedi (not to be confused with the Japanese restaurant) for Christmas dinner. It’s a grand setting, huge spaces, very high end international style. Good service, fancy wine list. We had the Asian tasting menu, which was just okay – fun in its diversity, and certainly very good by Swiss measures, but pretty middle of the road for California Asian food standards. The hotel looks very nice, but I’m not sure it justifies the eye-watering price tag.

Other places that looked cute: Hotel Sonne, Hotel Honige & Post


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