Travel by Train in Europe: My Top 15 Tips

Travel by Train in Europe: My Top 15 Tips

The first time I backpacked through Europe as a US Citizen, I was entirely overwhelmed and confused. I wasn’t the only foreign visitor who was confused, there were so many people who had questions about how this complex interconnecting system worked. So for those first timers out there, here are my Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

1- Buy a ticket

Just because you have a Eurail pass, doesn’t mean you have a reserved seat. So be sure to buy that extra ticket in order to reserve a seat. Also, make sure you are there at least 30 minutes early so you don’t miss your train. Especially if you are traveling across country lines. Only buy tickets from reputable places, there are a lot of scams in Europe around travel. Educate yourself on how to avoid scams in Europe.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

2- Check Your Platform And Car Number

Get on the right train from the right platform. Look at the train names above the numbered platforms. Then make sure that the car you enter is the exact car you need to take. The cars separate at different stops and you don’t want to be left behind unknowingly.

IF YOU DON’T KNOW, ASK!!!! Ask someone after you get on the train if you must. They will close the doors when the conductor blows the whistle. The trains in Europe wait for no one.

3- Anticipate The Need To Run

Once seated, look at your ticket……look at the next platform you need to go to. Look at when your train arrives and when the next departs. You may need to run across the station to platform 12b from platform 1a in 15 minutes. There is always going to be someone slow in front of you, so take the stairs.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

4- Scan Your Ticket To Get In And Out

Keep your ticket in hand! You need it to scan in and scan out of each of the train stations. The ticket must be current, or you can get a fine. If you have a Eurail Pass, you can just scan the code on the outside of the ticket to get through the gates. The Eurail tickets sometimes have their own gates. Try to go with the gate not everyone is going through (if you can’t understand the Language).

5- Check The Type Of Train You Get On

Make sure you are getting on the right type of train. If you get on the wrong train you can still get fined. It may be going to the right place, but if you get on the faster train or get on an inter-city train instead, you can get fined. B

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

6- Bring Your Own Supplies

Bring your own water, your phone charger, and a Travel Pillow— especially if you have a sleeper train — small backpacks are the best…..just minimize by packing like the news told you the city was going to be bombed and you had 15 minutes before you had to be evacuated. That will get you everything you need in one bag. Yes, you will probably smell……bring Febreeze… me…..there are people who smell worse on the trains.7 – Take Your Trash With You

7- Take Your Trash With You

Take your trash with you when you exit the train. There are small little garbage cans underneath the tables or right under the window on most trains. These fill up very quickly, as well as the ones in the bathrooms, so take your rubbish with you when you get off.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

8- Sit In Seats With No Reservations

Don’t sit in a seat with a paper at the top or an electronic name above the seat…..You will lose your seat. I had this experience once, and that is all it took for me to learn to not do this. Was very unpleasant to be laughed out of your seat by a group of teenage boys. Then I stood in the café car for two hours till the next stop, the train was so full you couldn’t find a seat even between the cars.

9- Treat The Train Like You Would Your Living Room

Don’t put your feet up on the seats, or let your luggage take a seat near you. Put your bags on top and your coat on the hooks. MOVE if there are people looking for a place to sit. You wouldn’t want to sit on a spot where someone’s muddy shoes have just been, ruining your outfit. Take your shoes off first at least before you do this. They don’t exactly clean these seats regularly.

10 – Be The First In Line, In the Right Spot On The Platform

Be the first in line to get on the train…..the seats run out very quickly. Don’t be rude and shove people aside, but if you have the chance, stay close to the train. I also would gauge where the train door would stop ultimately by the train next to us. You stand right where the train opposite would stop, and you get to be the first one onto the train! Worked like a charm every time. Most people just stand at the platform thinking if they are near the front they will get a seat, this is not true. If you are at the front of the platform, right where the doors are going to stop, THEN you will get a seat.

11- Pack Light

Please don’t bring 500 pieces of luggage that require you to ask for help onto and off the train. If you cannot easily get up and down 4 very tall 18-inch steps with both luggage pieces in hand…..people will get mad. The longer you take to board the train the less likely the people behind you will be able to find a seat.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

12- Sitting In Between Cars Is Uncomfortable

If you are just going one stop, you can sit in-between the cars. If you try and do this for the entire trip….you will have to get up and move every time someone opens the car doors……very annoying.

13- Sit In The Cafe If All Else Fails

There are seats in the back at the café car that you can order food and sit or stand there. I wouldn’t recommend this, as it gets crowded very very quick. No one can eat for 6 hours straight… would go broke.

14 – Limit Your Bathroom Use When Possible

Don’t try to use the bathrooms unless it is an emergency. If you do try and use them— bring hand sanitizer and toilet paper in your purse. The few I did have to use were so gross I was gagging. One had a floor so sticky and stinky that I had to breathe through my mouth. A coin-operated train station in Amsterdam was another bad experience. This particular bathroom had no toilet paper (luckily I had Kleenex in my bag), the sink had a powerful water flow and you could literally see the poop near the walls of the sink.

I am a pretty laid back person when it comes to expecting things to always be perfect (if you do expect it, your trip will be horrible); but this particular restroom was the most disgusting one I have used in the ENTIRE world. Who would have thought that a train station in the Netherlands would be that gross…..they are usually a very clean people.

I will say this though, there are some trains (typically the newer ones) that have decent bathrooms with air-fresheners and everything. They give hefty fines to people who are caught using first class bathrooms without a ticket.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

15 – Getting A First Class Ticket Can Be Worth It

If you get a sleeper car for an overnight train trip, get one in first class with one other person if you must. I’m telling you….. it is amazing, and I actually slept…..everything is so clean and really just like a hotel room. You even get breakfast. Second class sleeper trains are adequate but don’t expect to have it be perfect.

My experience with the Second class sleeper was with 4 people in it, and nowhere to put your things because the ladies on the bottom bunks took up all the space. On top of that, you are usually at the end of the train which is a lot more bouncy and less restful. The Air conditioner broke and it was so incredibly hot woke up drenched in sweat. The gentleman in charge of our car and cabin just apologized, said they tried to fix it, and there were no other rooms for us to go

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

Make Train Travel in Europe Easier

Now all these things may make you not want to take the train at all. These 15 tips, were constructed from the worst parts of my experience. These tips and tricks will help your experience better. There are many many more wonderful parts of train travel, that can end up being a really great experience. My luck on trains is not the greatest. Apart from the one time I got a first class cabin all to myself. Being in first class was sooooo worth the money! To be in a cool, quiet, restful place with an attendant who really cared.

So don’t let this article deter you from train travel, it really is a great way to get around. I hope these things have helped and will allow at least those in the Culture Trekking Community to travel with ease, by learning from my mistakes.

As always, Happy Travels, Happy Tales and See You on the Flip Side.

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Hiking in Zermatt

Hiking in Zermatt

Hiking in Zermatt is one of the greatest gifts you could give yourself. Take a journey with me through one of the most beautiful countries I have seen, in Zermatt Switzerland. Start your day off with a big breakfast and a heaping dose of patience with yourself. Zermatt Switzerland is 5,310 feet (1,620m) above sea level. At that altitude you will get winded no matter how ‘fit’ you are because the air will be thinner.

Hiking in Zermatt

Traveler Tip:

Altitude sickness has nothing to do with your gender or fitness level, but it can lead to severe health complications if it is not addressed properly. Please review symptoms of altitude sickness so if it begins to happen to you, you will be able to address it properly. So if you feel out of breath, take frequent breaks and give your body time to catch up to the oxygen requirements.  If you are an asthmatic (like me), be sure to bring your inhalers 🙂

Hiking in Zermatt

As I was only able to do 2 hikes while I was there, I felt these were the best ones for me due to the fact I was suffering from altitude sickness. (I almost ended up in the hospital because I did not give my body the time it needed).

Gorner Gorge Hike

My favorite hike was over to Gorner Gorge. This is a 15-minute walk from town along the gorgeous river walk along, go past the Forest Fun park and to a small cabin where you pay a fee to pass to Gorner gorge. (If you are a little more adventurous and avid hiker, I would also suggest hiking Jungfrau Mountain in nearby Bern. )

Hiking in Zermatt

Traveler Tip:

Make sure you bring cash with you, as they do not have credit card machines (or bathrooms) at the cabin.

After paying the fee at the cabin, you walk down a flight of stairs and are met with an intricately detailed rock formation. This rock wall mesmerized me into a trance of contemplation, reflection and pure wonderment of how nature can form something so beautiful. I was unaware that this small portion of this elevated footpath was just the beginning of a stunning journey through the beauty of nature.

Hiking in Zermatt

Traveler tip:

If you have a fear of heights, this may not be the path for you as the footpath is made of wooden planks & posts bolted into the mountainside.

There are also two different ladders that are quite steep, those with bad knees or hips may not be able to climb these without some assistance (there are about 14 steps per ladder). Even if you are not able to make it up to the biggest of the waterfalls, just contemplating life as you watch the water flow down the twists and turns of this gorge will be worth the effort. My mind wandered frequently of how I would be able to get a Kayak down the canyon, and if I attempted it, what would be the statistical probability of my demise, lol.

Hiking in Zermatt

The twists and turns appear as though the wind carved out the gorge like a knife through soft butter. Sharp angles along the narrow canyon reflected a serene blue of the water. A stream flowed beneath in a soothing Zen-like way. The gorge makes you wish you could hook up a tent on the side of the cliff face and spend the night there.   Continuing along the path, I pondered how they were able to get the footpath posts into the walls. I found myself internally thanking the men and woman who made it possible to witness this natural wonder.

Waterfalls in Zermatt

I climbed the two ladders up to the higher viewpoint and continued to explore the cliffs and gulley’s surrounding me. The view of Zermatt from the top took my breath away completely.  There was the waterfall and on the other side a stunning view of Zermatt Switzerland.

Hiking in Zermatt

Beyond Gorner Gorge

There are other hiking options that could take an entire day for you to explore. To get to these other options, just continue up the stairs to the top of the gorge. I chose to just sit in the peacefulness of the mountain and enjoy the view.

Hiking in Zermatt

Other options for hiking are listed on the sign below. Each hike is shown with their respective times and directions, which is easily found along the trail.

Other Hiking in Zermatt options: 

  • Rifelsee Lake
    • This is by far the best for the reflections of the Matterhorn
    • It is a short walk from the Rotenboden Station (on the Gornergrat Line)
    • It is mostly downhill and is both easy and rewarding at the end
  • 5 Lakes Hike
    • This hike goes past 5 different lakes the Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee, and Leisee
    • The Leisee is the best one to go swimming in and children tend to love this one the most.
    • The Grunsee has a more rough and rugged surrounding to it
    • Grindjisee hosts the rare Swiss Alps Wild Flowers on its shores
Hiking in Zermatt

Of course, if you have more time there are plenty of outdoor activities to try, like Paragliding, Fishing and Mountain Biking. In the winter, there is ice climbing, sledding, curling, ice skating and of course Skiing in the Swiss Alps.

A Word of Caution: 

Before attempting to ski in a place like this, know that these slopes are steep with sheer and treacherous drop-offs. Many of the Olympic Ski Teams come to train before their Olympic Trials. Make sure that you are in tip top shape and able to deftly navigate while on your ski’s. Not being able to control your aim, speed or cutting would likely result in a tragic end. Even the locals have a deep respect for the Mountains that surround them, and all they offer and impose.

Where to Stay in Zermatt

What to Pack for Zermatt

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Where to Eat in Zermatt: The Savory Jorg Restaurant

Where to Eat in Zermatt: The Savory Jorg Restaurant

It is always difficult to decide what restaurant to visit when you are on vacation. Everything is new, exciting, and tingles the taste buds. While visiting Christiana Mountain Spa & Resort, in Zermatt Switzerland I was able to have an incredible meal at the Savory Swiss Jorg Restaurant. I highly suggest you make a special trip to eat here, you will not regret it.

Christiana Mountain Spa & Resort, in Zermatt Switzerland

Reservations at Christiania Mountain Spa Restaurant

Reservations are required and can be made through the front desk of Christiana Mountain Spa & Resort. The dinner times are from 5 pm to 9 pm but I would suggest going either around 5 pm or at 8 pm. Try and request a table by the window as you will be able to have a perfectly romantic Swiss meal with the imposing Matterhorn lit by the moonlight.

Christiana Mountain Spa & Resort, in Zermatt Switzerland

First Impression of this Swiss Restaurant:

The Swiss experience at Jorg Restaurant boasts both Traditional and International options of cuisine with an extensive array of drinks available in the bar. Swiss, European, Central European wines are all available for your tasting pleasure, and professionally displayed in a case as soon as you walk in so you can easily choose your favorite while waiting to be seated. The Restaurant is tastefully decorated, with some artistic accents added at strategic locations throughout the dining area. These pieces give the opportunity for excellent conversation starters. Chairs, tables, and booths are well kept with no tears or rips in the seams. There were no leftovers to be seen on either the chairs nor on the tables which were adorned with crisp white tablecloths. You are promptly greeted, asked how many in your party, accommodations are deftly checked and you are swiftly shown to a table that will suit your particular needs and party size.

Christiana Mountain Spa & Resort, in Zermatt Switzerland

The Menu:

A menu is handed to you, encased in a leather binding that is clean without blemish from prior use. Wine specials, and suggestions on how to best enjoy all that the menu has to offer are presented. You are then left to carefully choose that which your taste buds are craving for the evening. I personally chose the 4-course meal with each course, there are 2 options available. I really appreciated this, because there were certain additives I needed to avoid due to my particular food allergies & this made it very easy to choose my perfect combinations I wished for my dining pleasure. I chose my selections, my waitress smiled politely and said that she agreed that those were excellent choices. The only thing I would have changed in my selection was something a little less salty in the initial 3 courses, as my tongue felt a little pickled by the end of the main course.

Christiana Mountain Spa & Resort, in Zermatt Switzerland

Complimentary Items:

After choosing the courses you so desire, the staff will bring you soft bread that makes you want to stuff a few slices in your purse for later. Truly, I fancy myself a bread connoisseur and this particular item made me think of the bread that my mother use to make when I was younger. It does not taste as though it was sitting out the entire day nor has been in the bread warmer for far too long. It was simply delicious when paired with the butter provided and melted perfectly into the vacant spaces.

Christiana Mountain Spa & Resort, in Zermatt Switzerland

The Drink:

As I mentioned previously, there is an extensive and impressive wine list, complete with local flavors and choices. The Wine I chose was impeccable, not too strong nor sweet – a Pinot Noir that is very famous for the area and suggested to me by the staff. There were hints of black cherries and blackberries. It is soft on the palate when first tasting, and only gets better with each gulp. In the end, it made me feel poetic about the food I was about to indulge in.

I would highly suggest taking advantage of tasting the Swiss Wine options due to the fact that only 1% of the Swiss Wine actually makes it to the European Market. This is mostly due to the producers of this wine wanting to sell to private clients and local restaurants almost exclusively. The Jorg Restaurant has an exceptional array of Wine choices (at least 2 pages worth) which can be bought by the bottle or by the glass. There are a few options for Beer and spirits with one Beer on tap. With the hospitality driven attitude, Jorg Restaurant offers I would think that they could make any drink your heart so desired.

The First Course, Salad:

 Beef carpaccio with marinated rocket and grana padano in Balsamic

The presentation of this dish was tasteful and precise. Drizzled with a Pumpkin Seed dressing that had hints of Balsamic Vinegar as its base. The bitterness of the vinegar was softened by the Parmesan Cheese flakes adorning the top, and the Pumpkin Puree encircling the salad made me hum with palate pleasure. Thin slices of Beef carpaccio marinated to perfection were hidden within and elegantly topped with the delicate arugula and a thin breadstick.

Christiana Mountain Spa & Resort, in Zermatt Switzerland

The Second Course, Soup:

Vegetable soup with gnocchi and crepe strips

A salty vegetable broth base with crispy crepes and gnocchi placed within the soup that truly added a nice texture. Each bite is completed with touches of green onion that really rounds out the warmth and feeling of home while eating this dish. Soup in the Fall is perfection isn’t it? The soup sinks into your bones and slays the chill of the outdoors, helping to relax you for the rest of the meal.

The Third course, Savory Risotto:

Champagne risotto with giant prawns, tomatoes, and chanterelles

I was very excited to see Risotto on the menu, as this is a difficult dish for even the best Chef’s to do correctly. I must say my Risotto was pure perfection- not too salty, rich and savory flavors, without any bitterness. Cooking execution of the Risotto made for an excellent velvety texture that literally melts in your mouth.  The Champagne Risotto was perfectly paired with the King Prawns, cooked to perfection. Traces of subtle mouthwatering earthy flavors brought everything together for a perfectly orchestrated piece of culinary art.

Christiana Mountain Spa & Resort, in Zermatt Switzerland

The Fourth Course, Dessert:

Pineapple Plum salad with almond ice cream and cocoa chips

A confectionery delight that was revealing itself to me as a masterful flower of temptation. I was so enthralled by how this particular dish was plated, I was almost afraid to take the first bite if it wasn’t for the melting ice cream in the center. The House Made Vanilla Bean Ice Cream combined with the sweet & sour of the plums & pineapple was a unique pairing that in the end I thoroughly enjoyed.

Head Chef Jorg Elsen:

Chef Elsen went to Regionale Schule mit Grundschule Schonberg for his education. The Chef used to work at Hotel National Zermatt, another luxury dining experience, with this particular hotel also having excellent reviews on all Travel related websites. Now his talents are utilized expertly at the Christiania Mountain Spa and Resort where he heads the Savory Swiss Jorg Restaurant. The Chef’s signature dish is non-other than the Chateau Briand. A classically French dish of a center cut of beef tenderloin, gracefully cooked in a wine sauce that I am sure he has put his own unique touches to.

Be sure to try this dish and let me know your thoughts as I was unable to do so during my short stay at Christiania Mountain Spa and Resort. Peeking into the kitchen area, the chef was smartly dressed in a striped apron with the double-breasted White Chef’s Jacket lined with black silk piping on the edges. I had the opportunity to meet him and he was kind enough to bring some delicate treats to the table as a way of saying thank you for the Review of the Restaurant. I found him to be clean and polished with a very professional air about him. As a traveler, I think the cleanliness of the Kitchen facilities is imperative as a traveler’s tummy is very fickle and easily upset.

The Jorg Restaurant Staff

The restaurant staff is composed of polite, smiling and extremely helpful individuals. I really appreciated their attentiveness and disguised anticipatory monitoring of my needs while eating. I did not feel that they were overbearing during my meal whatsoever. Gentle suggestions from the staff were made that truly helped my dining experience,  I intensely appreciated the creativity of their suggestions and effort to make my experience exceptional.

Christiana Mountain Spa & Resort, in Zermatt Switzerland

The Cost:

Main entrees cost around $20-$208 USD. The comprehensive menu sampler of 4 different entrees of $57-$65 which I found to be especially delectable.

My Final Thoughts on the Swiss Jorg Restaurant:

The Savory Swiss Jorg Restaurant surely will not disappoint you. A romantic setting,  exceptional service, relaxing environment, exceptional food and delectable dessert are sure to fill not only your belly but your soul with vacation goodness we all crave. So book a stay at Christiania Mountain Spa & Resort and be sure to make reservations for a dinner you are sure to never forget.

Where to Stay in Zermatt

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If your tempted to visit Jorg Restaurant, be sure to read my review of Christiania Mountain Spa and Resort Buy your ski and lift tickets for your visit to Zermatt

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The Perfect Hotel in Zermatt: Christiania Mountain Spa & Resort

The Perfect Hotel in Zermatt: Christiania Mountain Spa & Resort

Christiania Mountain Spa and Resort is a perfect hotel retreat and will make you want to stay in the incredible Swiss Alps forever. I have always wanted to see the Matterhorn, it has been on my Bucket list for quite some time & I was finally able to make cross it off my list! It was quite the journey to get there from Berlin, complete with my train catching on fire (an unusual occurrence as I was told).

Traveling to Zermatt, Switzerland:

Traveler Tip: If you want to spend a week in the Swiss Alps, fly into Bern Switzerland, take the ICE train from there to VISP, transfer to a train headed to your final destination, Zermatt.

With my EUrail Pass I was able to travel easily into Zermatt with stunning views along the way which had my nose glued to the panoramic windows. The train from Bern to Visp does get quite crowded so be sure to reserve a seat on the way there for about 3 Euro. Once you arrive in Zermatt at the local train station, the Hotel is only a short and surprisingly relaxing 10-minute walk up the street. If you choose to take a small taxi to the Hotel do not pay more than 8-10 Swiss Franc.

Perfect Hotel in Zermatt Switzerland

Checking in at Christiania Mountain Resort and Spa:

After arriving at Christiania Resort, I was promptly greeted and asked my name, then the receptionist informed me, my room was ready for my stay. I was advised to set my bags down as the bell boy would be promptly bringing my bags to my room. The kind receptionist then took me on a tour of the Hotel, showed me where all the amenities of the Resort were. I was also shown the dining area and informed of when breakfast and dinner would start and finish for the day. The keys used for the hotel rooms added a certain whimsical charm to this Mountain Resort, and she kindly showed me how to use them with my room. I was left to my own devices in my hotel room and explored my new accommodation. My bags arrived within 45 seconds of the receptionist leaving, the bell boy was winded, smiled, thanked me for coming and promptly left without even a chance for me to give him a proper tip.

Traveler Tip: There is no parking available anywhere in the city unless you are either a local or you are a small taxi driver. The city itself has pushed to be a car-free city & self-sustaining. Please keep this in mind when planning your trip here.

The Room:

Sheets are changed daily and are not too starched to the point you can’t get to sleep. Despite the daily cleaning they still feel soft and cozy, perfect for the cool and crisp nights of the Swiss Alps. The tub and shower are cleaned with sanitizer after each guest leaves. This is something I make sure to note at each of the hotels I stay at. Of the friends who use to work in the Hotel Maid Service Industry in Las Vegas not properly cleaning the tub & shower is something they report is quite often missed. I do not know if carpets are routinely cleaned here, but in general, they appeared to be without spots or any particular smell. There are safe’s available for guests in each room.

Traveler Tip: A single room ranges from 160-260 USD. Double Rooms are anywhere between 260-500 USD. Cost variance seems to depend on the view of the room and the amenities you desire. If you find you will be out all day on hiking or skiing adventures, I would suggest rooms without a view since you will be outside anyway. If you, however, are going for the Romantic Winter settings and like to have a relaxing evening, then go for the rooms with a direct view of the Matterhorn and set the perfect mood for your Swiss Alps getaway.

Perfect Hotel in Zermatt Switzerland

The bed in the single room I was in, was firm enough for the support, yet soft enough to not make my back or hips ache in the morning. If upon awakening, my back and hips hurt, this is my own indicator the beds in the hotel are terrible. In my single bedroom, there was a shower with a glass enclosure, a handheld shower spout with both hot and cold water available. There was a Privy available as well with two types of flushing capabilities (small vs large load if you will). Shampoo, lotion, hand soap are provided in the room for your convenience. If you would like conditioner, you can bring your own or it is offered in the beauty shop near the spa. These supplies are obtained locally and provided at the hotel for each room.

Something I found extremely welcoming was the small bag of Swiss Chocolate left on the table for me with a kind note welcoming me to the Hotel.

There was an armoire where I could hang my clothes, but would also be an ideal place to keep your ski clothing. The clothing closet also contained brand new slippers, neatly tucked into a plastic bag. These slippers were somehow the highlight for me; out of the hundreds of hotels I have stayed in it was the first time I had ever seen FREE slippers which were clean and previously unused! I love slippers, and having this small gift in my room made it feel like home.

I personally like to sleep in a cool room under several blankets, so the windows opening to the fresh mountain air was also another positive quality I found in the room. The windows open several different ways depending on how much you want to hear the quiet hum of the city life around your hotel. I am a light sleeper and even despite this was able to sleep soundly with the window open all night long. I loved watching the locals tend to their garden and pass through the side streets to their homes.
If you plan on posting to social media about your stay there, free Wifi is available and I had no issues with the connection.

Full list of Rooms available at Christiania Mountain Spa & Resort

History of the Hotel and My impression of the management:

The Frazen-Bieri family puts heart and soul into ensuring nothing is missing from your stay at Christiania Mountain Spa & Resort. They are 2nd and 3rd generation hosts who come Highly recommended on both Trip Advisor and — They have a dog named Mousse!!! Anyone who has a dog I immediately trust.

I was able to meet two of the members of the Frazen-Bieri family and they had a warm countenance with a genuine interest in how my stay was going. I was able to observe them during dinner service in the evening, aiding the staff in whatever capacity was needed.

Perfect Hotel in Zermatt Switzerland

I have stayed in hotels all across the United States and all over the world, from the Biltmore in Florida, Hilton in New York City, Bed & Breakfasts in Scotland and throughout the EU. I have never seen such a warm and dedicated sense of commitment to a vision of a hotel in all my years. In seeing this commitment by the owners to both its staff, facility, and guests I can confidently recommend this Hotel to anyone who visits Zermatt.

I was offered a Dinner reservation around 8 pm in order to be able to meet the famous Chef Jorg Elsen. Reservations for dinner are required so as to give each guest the ultimate dining experience. The busiest times at the restaurant are going to be between 6-730pm.

For your meal, I would plan on at least 1.5-2 hours of indulgence. The service is impeccable, precise and not overbearing. The staff is well educated on both food, wine and offer fabulous suggestions on pairings of both. I would suggest dressing in business casual as the setting of the restaurant seems to subconsciously encourage this.
Tipping in Switzerland is appreciated at 10-15% but not expected. Anything more than 10-15% is considered extremely generous. I was so impressed with the service I gave a 25% tip and was sought out the next day by the waitress who had helped me and gratitude was showered upon me.
Read my Full Review of Jorg Restaurant at Christiania Mountain Spa & Resort

Traveler Tip: There is no surcharge applied for your table reservation, the only cost to you is what you choose as your meal & drink. If you want the perfect romantic setting for a meal, I would suggest reserving a time for 8 pm with a table and a view of the city with the Matterhorn lit by moonlight.

Christiania Mountain Spa Luxuries are second to NONE:

Surprisingly the list of Spa services is not listed on their website (for a full list of the services offered by their Spa team, please see below). Utilizing the Spa services Christiania Resort has, is something I would HIGHLY suggest you do not pass up. To round out my stay at this exceptional resort I was able to receive a 1-hour deep tissue massage. The Spa therapeutic services are available between 3 pm – 9 pm or by special appointment. My appointment was at 3 pm prior to my 6 o’clock train to Vienna was due to depart.

I was greeted warmly by the massage therapist and deftly shown into the massage room. I was given instructions to disrobe to my comfort level & didn’t quite understand what to do next. The therapist stepped out of the room and I was left to my own devices. I am accustomed to a large blanket on the massage table, with a sheet lining it. I disrobed and put on the disposable underwear which was provided, just in case. I was getting ready to lay face down on the table, and the massage therapist knocked. I tried to say wait one minute, alas I don’t know if there was a communication error or not but I was caught in a rather unsightly position – which I quickly rectified. A large bath towel is what is available to cover yourself once you disrobe, so if you are a little curvier like me, make sure to position it properly.

Perfect Hotel in Zermatt Switzerland

The female masseuse helped me get comfortable on the table and inquired as to how I would like my massage. I informed her I would like only my back and legs worked on, as all the train travel I had been experiencing was making me quite uncomfortable. I was still a little embarrassed by being caught in the awkward position upon her re-entry, but let me tell you, as soon as she started to massage my muscles – my embarrassment quickly dissipated.

I am a Physician Assistant and know my Anatomy quite well. I also have myofascial problems and have frequented the best massage therapists in the United States and on Cruise ships. Without a doubt, this masseuse knew her anatomy, and also knew how to work the fascia and muscles in ways which were both effective as well as relaxing. She kept constant comfortable pressure so I knew exactly where she was in the room and allowed me to anticipate where she was massaging next. I feel when you are able to anticipate where they will massage next, it helps to curb any feeling of discomfort. My sore traveling muscles melted like butter under her precise and therapeutic touch & I drifted to sleep. I was gently awoken with her soothing voice asking me if there was any other area I would like addressed. She ended with a few pressure points on my neck and a relaxing cranial massage.

My massage therapist left the room and allowed me to redress. The only thing I could have requested more of is to have a warm moist towel which I could have used to wipe excess lotion off my arms and legs & a dry one on the floor so I would not slip. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed my massage, which is a huge compliment from me as I am typically a harsh critic of most massage therapists I encounter.

The Pool, Jacuzzi, and Sauna at Christiania Mountain Resort:

I wish I could have stayed another two days to properly utilize their Spa facility and Pool area. After my massage, I took a tour of the Pool, Jacuzzi and Sauna area. It is a comprehensive wellness arena which also has a secret Ice Cave (for those who need a good ice down after a long day of skiing). This is the place to escape the rat race of life and find your ultimate Zen. The pool itself is only available to the Hotel guests & is generally quiet during the day and busier at night. It is perfectly situated to let you enjoy the sweeping views of the surrounding Alps. I was personally taken aback by how warm the entire enclosure was. I had been told and read online how amazing their spa was, but the entire enclosure is like a dry Sauna! I was so surprised!

Perfect Hotel in Zermatt Switzerland

Traveler Tip: There are no shoes allowed in the area, and robes are available in each hotel room, along with slippers to take with you to the pool.

There is even a Vegas-style Cabana located just poolside. An enormous hot tub adorns the corner of this expansive area and is hot, clean and bubbling with healing goodness. This hot tub is so large, you could likely fit around 20 people in it comfortably. I was especially impressed at how clean the surrounding windows enclosing the area were. Typically when you have a pool and a hot tub in an enclosure like this, the windows become dirty, the air smells of chlorine and chemicals (which tends to trigger my Asthma terribly), I’m pleased to report this was not the case for their pool area. I personally am training for a Triathalon and have spent a lot of time, in a lot of pools throughout the country, and this is the BEST POOL and spa I have ever encountered!

The pool itself is 25 meters long, complimented brilliantly by a Bio Sauna, Finnish Sauna, Steam bath, quiet room with integrated fireplace, a modern fitness center, a hairdresser & beauty salon. I don’t think guests who stay here realize what amazing internal amenities this particular Mountain Resort has to offer. This is why Christiania Mountain Spa & Resort is the ultimate destination, due to the fact that no matter what the weather is, on the commanding Swiss Alps, you will always have an activity you can entertain yourself with which ultimately leads to perfect relaxation for you and the entire family.

Perfect Hotel in Zermatt Switzerland

How clean is the Hotel?

With my research on Christiania Mountain Spa & Resort, I am pleased to announce to my readers there have been no complaints made of infestations, no calls for rodents or any need for an exterminator. With Bed Bugs being on the rise in the United States (nearly 44% increase in New York Hotels alone) and throughout the world. I personally make sure to do research extensively on the cleanliness of the accommodation prior to visiting an accommodation.
The laundry facility was neatly kept, swept and brightly lit giving it an appearance of hospital type quality cleanliness. I am pleased to report their facility was so clean, even I could not find fault, even for this former Surgical Technician.

Perfect Hotel in Zermatt Switzerland

Is Christiania Mountain Resort Safe? Is it in a Safe location?

The Resort itself is located in a quiet area of town, away from the bustle of the city. There are locals staying near the hotel, in fact, my room overlooked a charming little garden. I felt extremely safe here as a single female traveling alone. There are also security cameras throughout the hotel.
If you decide to leave your luggage at the front desk (for an early check-in, or late check-out) then you may want to know a few things. Your luggage will be kept in front of the hotel desk, or in an area near the hotel desk under the watchful eye of the receptionist. Each piece of luggage is marked with a handwritten note with either your name or room number on it.

Perfect Hotel in Zermatt Switzerland

Who is their ideal clientele? Is Christiania Resort Family friendly?

Christiania Mountain Spa is a great place for relaxation after a day of adventures, or for a romantic evening with your significant other. I would highly recommend this Hotel for family vacations as well because there is an ~800 sq ft room dedicated to children and their entertainment! I thought it was brilliant to put the children’s playroom complete with videos, toys etc… right next to the workout room & spa facility. There is a separate pool and play area if you choose to use their expansive spa facility, including a little splash pad for the wee ones if you so wish.
If you are looking to have your children come with you but want to have a day to work on the romance or hit the amazing slopes of the Alps, you will be pleased to know the Hotel is associated with ‘Alpine Nanny’ a locally sourced company who can watch your little ones while your cutting those slopes with your ski’s.
With so many activities available for the kids within the Zermatt community, it will be hard for you to choose what to do. There is a Forest Fun Park with an AMAZING obstacle course (even I found it so enticing I wanted to stay longer in order to see if I could complete the course, I will have to see if they allow adults).
Holding a business retreat at Christiania Mountain Spa & Resort may be a little more difficult as I was not aware of any community fax machines, copiers, or meeting rooms available within the facility.

Perfect Hotel in Zermatt Switzerland

Festivals in Town:

There are several festivals which seem to be quite entertaining & would be worthwhile planning your trip here for (if skiing isn’t your thing, there are also plenty of other activities to choose from– My Full Review of Zermatt Switzerland is coming soon). These festivals include Zermatt Unplugged, Impulse, and Zermatt Fashion Week.

Other useful Information for CHRISTIANIA MOUNTAIN SPA:

  • The hotel is about a 5-minute walk from the main Sunnega lift if you are visiting Zermatt for skiing. This is the main Ski lift in Zermatt, so it’s quite convenient especially if you are walking around in your ski boots.
  • The hotel is a 15 min walk to Gorner Gorge or the Forest Adventure Park
  • I do not know if they recycle the hotel bottles they utilize, but I am sure, if you feel so inclined, there are two recycling facilities with the closest one being at Bahnhofpl. 6, 3920 Zermatt – near the tourist information center.
  • Zermatt is the most self-sustaining destination in Switzerland.
  • Christiania Mountain Spa & Resort offers Breakfast in morning starting at 8 am and it does not require a reservation. Breakfast is included in the cost of your room
  • If you would like to have Lunch, they do offer Lunch to their guests on the weekends.
Perfect Hotel in Zermatt Switzerland

The Takeaway For Christiania Mountain Spa & Resort

Overall I found Christiania Mountain Spa and Resort to have incredible charm with the warmth of home, and hospitality fit for Royalty. The most shocking part to me was how affordable it was compared to other hotels in the Zermatt area. If you ever decide to fulfill your own bucket list and see the iconic Matterhorn, be sure to book with Christiania Mountain Spa and Resort & include time for the amazing dinner selections. Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and see you on the flip side, my friends.

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Spa Luxuries available at Christiania: (not listed on their website)
  1. Classic Massage: Customized massage designed to boost your immune system, relieve aches and pains. It is a Swedish & Deep Tissue Massage with long relaxing strokes, combined with pressure point work and relief of tension trouble spots.  (Available in Full or Half-body massage at 25, 50, and 80 minutes)
  2. Aromatherapy Massage:  This is one of the oldest forms of treatment. Combine your massage with aromatherapy oils targeted to your specific needs resulting in maximum recovery. (Available in Full or Half-body massage at 25, 50, and 80 minutes)
  3. Sport Massage: Alleviates the build-up of Lactic Acid in the muscles after a long day of skiing or workout. (Available on back and legs for 40 minutes)
  4. Lomi Lomi Nui: Originating from Hawaii, this technique focuses on finding congested areas in the body and redistributes them by moving the palms, thumbs, elbows, and forearms in a rhythmic motion, using long flowing connected strokes. This technique alleviates nerve pain, improves blood and lymphatic circulation thus relieving tension, increasing circulation and relieving pain. (Available in 45, 65, and 85 minutes)
  5. Lymphatic Drainage: A technique that stimulates the lymphatic system with gentle massaging strokes, thus alleviating the lower extremity swelling that often plagues travelers and skiers. (Available in 25 and 50-minute increments).
  6. Thai Foot Massage or Nuad Thao: This is a massage of the lower legs and feet, a type of reflexology that stimulates the pressure points of the feet resulting in reduced stress levels, increased energy and overall balance to the body. This particular technique combines hand massage as well as massage with a wooden stick. (Available in 25 and 50-minute increments)
  7. Head and Face Massage: Tension is often stored in the facial muscles without us realizing it until a massive migraine hits. Keep ahead of the stresses of traveling with this relaxing and invigorating massage that will leave you feeling revitalized and fresh for the days to come. (Available in a 25-minute increment)
  8. Reflexology: This will relax the body and bring it back into balance by focusing on specific areas of the feet that are believed to be connected to systems within our bodies. It will improve blood circulation and leads to better vitality. (Available in 25 and 50-minute increments)
  9. Honey massage: A unique way of improving blood circulation, relaxing muscles and opens the pores, reduces cellulite that provides a healthier body. The Honey is absorbed through the skin, activating the metabolism to pull out the toxins, resulting in increased oxygen flow to the areas and nutrient rich blood into the cells that often go neglected. (Available in Full Body and Half body massage at 25 and 50 minutes respectively)

To schedule your appointment please arrange it with either the Front Desk or the Spa facility Reception area.

**Disclosure: This review of Christiana Mountain Spa and Resort was written in exchange for a discounted stay. All opinions are my own. Read my Full Hotel Disclosure.**