Zermatt is known for its après-ski activities, which include tea dances, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and discos. It has more nightclubs than any other resort in the Valais.
An Entertainment Complex
Hotel Post (tel. 027/967-19-31; www.hotelpost.ch), where everybody shows up after recovering from Elsie's Irish coffee, has a virtual monopoly on nightlife in Zermatt. The owner, Karl Ivarsson, an American, has gradually expanded it into one of the most complete entertainment complexes in Zermatt, with a number of restaurants and nightspots under one roof. Photographs of former guests, including famous athletes and models, are displayed under glass at the reception desk. On the way to the restaurant, in the basement, you'll pass a series of murals telling the story of a lonely tourist looking for love in Zermatt.
Take your pick of the various venues, including the Pink Live Music Bar, open December to Easter and 1 month in summer. In winter, they import a different band every year, although there's only a piano player in summer. The Broken Bar, located in the basement, is where the most hardened ski bums listen to hard-rock music at very high volumes, drink heavily, and generally raise hell. For hunger pangs, head for the Brown Cow at street level, a rustic room with 19th-century farm implements hanging from the ceiling. The menu includes hamburgers, goulash soup, sandwiches, and salads.
The Bar Scene
Elsie's Bar, at Kirchplatz (tel. 027/967-24-31), is a small house, dating from 1879, that packs in a large crowd around 6pm. It's comfortable, sedate, and bourgeois. Skiers show up for hot chocolate or Elsie's famous Irish coffee. The house is on the main street, near the Zermatterhof Hotel. During the day the menu includes ham and eggs, hot dogs, and even escargots. They also serve caviar and oysters (a special luxury in this area). The cafe is open in the winter daily from 11am to 2am and in the summer daily from 4pm to 2am.
One of the most animated and energetic bars is Grampy's Pub, Bahnhofstrasse (tel. 027/967-77-88), across from the Hotel Post, a pub and disco favored by the resort's army of off-duty waiters, bartenders, chambermaids, and ski instructors. A roughly equivalent competitor is the Papperla Pub (tel. 027/967-40-40; www.papperlapub.ch), near the Hotel Julen, where live music produced by Swiss folk and North American country-and-western bands gets your blood pumping.
Hotels that contain relatively animated pubs include the Hotel Bristol, the Schlosshotel Tenne, and the Hotel Excelsior. The least pretentious of the lot is the Kegelstube ("Bowling Alley Bar") in the Hotel Bristol (tel. 027/966-33-80), where the resort's only bowling alley adds visual distraction to the large bar area. Upstairs, the more formal Bristol Bar has a dance floor, a fireplace, and a view of the attached restaurant. The Schlosshotel Tenne's most appealing after-dark spot is the Bar Tenne (tel. 027/966-44-00), whose Art Nouveau decor is a welcome change from the relentless emphasis on Swiss chalets everywhere else. Here, near a bar that resembles an ambulatory in a monastery, and a DJ booth that might have been a church pulpit, you can relax on comfortable sofas or dance beneath the klieg lights of a circular dance floor. In the Hotel Excelsior (tel. 027/966-35-00), you can head for the sometimes rowdy and garrulous Ex-Bar, or seek refuge in the somewhat calmer, somewhat more upscale, winter-only Luna Bar, which is shielded from the noise nearby by thick doors and masonry walls.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.