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Saas Fee

4 January 2013 3,806 views 2 Comments

Bit of a luxury being able to compare two Swiss ski resorts back to back. Zermatt has more runs, is a nicer town and is better connected. Saas Fee is a lot more scenic – glaciers, mountains & woods, and has way better food :) I’d go back to Zermatt before Saas Fee, because I didn’t spend as long there and because there’s more skiing to be done.
That’s the executive summary. If you want to read more about woodland restaurants, schnapps and dancing then walk with me…

dirty pop

Just as in Zermatt there were some good non-skiing options: hiking trails, sledging specific routes, snowshoeing walks, a toboggan run and areas for doing guided off piste treks. And it’s only right that I also add to that list the option to spend all day watching BBC DVDs, eating crisps in bed and playing scrabble (not a euphemism).
IMG_0218When he skied, Nad said the pistes were good, nice conditions, a few good run combinations. We met for lunch at the ThreeSixty restaurant which is a brilliant day out on its own. The restaurant revolves a full 360 (geddit) in one hour so you go through the light, the shade, see the valley, the glaciers, the mountain face. Plus the food is trific (delicious soups, curry wurst n chips, baked potato with smoked salmon n sour cream), and, does the beer taste better up here..?
I only walked on the runs a little bit and it was close to town where about five runs were converging, it was a busy atmosphere and the snow at the edges was squeaky and sticky.

snap crackle pop

We also went up to Hannig which is dedicated non-skiing. There’s a cosy, nice restaurant at the top of the lift from where you can see the whole resort and the walkers & skiers across the valley. Nice brunch too (chicken salad, rosti n fried egg). The walk down was brilliant, big open views to start and then through the woods before flattening out into the town. There were a few tricky parts – steep and icy – some I hung on to the rope handrail, some I came down backwards (don’t ask), some I slid down, wooo.

fizzy pop

Ah, we had some exceptional meals in Saas Fee. I’d also say we had some totally average meals that still cost the earth, at which point, just as in Norway, buffets are to be applauded, loudly.
The Walliserkanne at the Allalin Hotel was really charming; classic in style and service. We had salad buffet to start (applause), Nad kicked in some venison and I pushed pike n vegetables around my plate cos I was still broken from late night Jaegers with ski instructors in Zermatt. Shame because it was one of my favourite vegetables too – Romanescu cauliflower.


pop tart

Keeping on the buffet tip (you know what to do) we found this cafe with a breakfast buffet. It was a bakery/ cafe and, totally ace, it had a little bakery museum downstairs, ah. I can’t decide if this was also ace, or not, but there were a few dorm rooms downstairs, in sort of bunkers. Those kids must be keen to ski. Fortunately the kids also knew how to work the machine for doing boiled eggs. Check this out… A sort of plastic egg box with water in the bottom which is heated til it boils and the eggs cook. I mean wow. The genius sandwich toaster is still my #1 small appliance, but this was hot dang impressive. We went to another bakery/ cafe another morning and had box ticking good omelettes. These places are cool because they do cafe food, great baked goods (obv), decent coffee, AND they have a bar should you decide a beer is in order.


Righto, the major flavour highlights: Bodmen is a 15 minute walk out of town, down a snow clad path lit with lanterns and stars. It’s a proper Swissy chalet, lovely looking, dead cosy, and there’s a little farm – the barn for the hens, rabbits and gerbils shares a window with the restaurant so you can go have a look inbetween courses. The food was solid, wholesome Swiss goodness: wild mushrooms on toast, soup with a pastry top, venison and roasted vegetables with spatzli. Hearty, warm and booze soaker-upping.
For New Years Day we went large and booked a table at Fletschhorn, a Michelin starred restaurant. It’s also out of town, another starry, sparkly trip, but this time on the milk float they send to come and get you . The restaurant has all the refined touches but the atmosphere and service is friendly and casual rather than stuffy. After champagne we kicked off with amuse-bouche of pumpkin soup and tempura prawn. Ok, so I’m not going to successfully convey the delicacy of flavours, the care in design and the deliciousness of the whole experience because in truth, this isn’t just prawn tempura , this is carefully selected seafood caressed by a light gold batter and served perfectly crisp and juicy. Entree one was Hamachi with caviar for Nad, and salad of smoked salmon, octopus & shitake mushrooms for mademoiselle. Both melted in the mouth. Entree two :) was chilli langoustines, and squid ink spaghetti with scallops. More melting. More wine please. Main courses – by which time we were already overwhelmed by excellence – were suckling pig with potatoes, and red mullet with mussels. Ah, it was bonkers good. And I suppose that’s what Michelin is all about. Well done them. There was only space for coffee, digestifs and then, as we waited for the return taxi, wine with Charlie the manager, charming dude.


If someone told me there was no alcohol left in either Zermatt or Saas Fee I’d believe them because it’s very conceivable that we drank it all. The bars around Saas Fee were a lot of fun: stupid music, home flavoured schnapps, easy friends, IMG_0742down-heaters, weisbeer, spontaneous congas, mini bottles of Jaeger, just made for two nutcases from London with too much time on their hands. And if there wasn’t enough trouble at the bars, the clubs were wicked too. Our hotel had a club, so you’d be daft not to check it out. Every night. Especially when they advertise that DJ Mixwell will be playing. Brilliant. But my personal favourite was Poison which ‘separates the men from the boys’. They had Jaegar in an optical, a pole on a podium, and I can only assume that the men do, in fact, party elsewhere :)
New Year was good n fun. It was all happening in the main (but little) square. A bar had been set up, there were fireworks, music coming from somewhere, people in onesies (well jel), and the church clock bashing out the countdown. After some Gangnam Style we went back to the club and ‘discovered’ the old skool room. Get down.

grand pop

We were staying at Popcorn hotel. Pretty hip, very friendly, totally comfortable but we were repeatedly told (by people outside the hotel) that we were too old for it, ha ha. So, yeah, fair enough, it had its own nightclub downstairs and most of the other residents were 20-somethings but we held our own. I mean, c’mon, no one works a dance floor like Nad, and I’ve got great backpacker chat :)
That said, I’m gonna try and remember that self catering can be really good for skiing holidays, mostly on account of needing easy provisions the morning after a heavy apr├Ęs ski.
Saas Fee is another town with no cars, just those milk float type taxis. You have to hand it to the Swiss, they really know how to organise sh!t. Not only is the car park out of town but so are all the town services, y’know, rubbish collection, deliveries etc. Seeing all of that makes you realise you’ve been in a real resort, in a Butlins or Trumann Show way, like there’s no real life inside the Saas Fee walls.

pop off

Switzerland, it’s beautiful, peaceful, wholesome, sporty. And at the end of that we were ready to head to Italy to dry out. Ha!


i am at peace on the mountain :)




  • lucyjjames » Blog Archive » Lago d’Orta said:

    […] known of the famous Italian lakes, but it’s no less impressive or gorgeous. We drove from Saas Fee, through the valley, which was great to experience the mountain scenery and also the change from […]

  • lucyjjames » Blog Archive » Locanda del Pilone said:

    […] #1 was in Saas Fee at the start of the year. A twinkling, snow-laden forest setting, gorgeous warm European flavours. […]

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