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February 2020

Issue: February 2020

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Travel to Geneva


Mama Mia!

1 February 2020

In the Swiss resort town of Zermatt, a new hotel is proving a welcome breath of fresh air

Some hotels wear their name like a badly tailored suit, others have it stitched into their DNA. Mama is the latter. An homage to the grandmother of owner Sandrine Julen, it’s the third incarnation of a hotel that’s been in Zermatt’s famed hotelier family for three generations. The 26-year-old has honoured this heritage, without descending into sentimentality – returning the ceramic fireplace to where it stood during her grandmother’s tenure, and slipping dishes like ‘granny style’ waffles into its bistro menu.

In a departure from the status quo (for Zermatt at least) – the property’s rooms span every budget – from cosy singles to whirlpool suites, where corporates, snowboarders and families can all bunk down. This inclusive ethos extends to the hotel’s stylish co-working area (already a hit with the local ski school), which doubles as the breakfast bar and events space during low season. “I want to break things down and make it less formal,” explained Julen.

The hotel thinks outside the Toblerone box when it comes to décor, too. It’s more about global eclecticism than sheepskins and chalet chic – from the metal latticework adorning the bar and facade (inspired by the owner’s brief stint living in Dubai), to the Italian-made armchairs. Adding some local spin are Valaisian materials like wood and stone.

Texture is also a touchpoint, stimulating a sense that’s all too often forgotten in today’s tech-forward hotels. Dovetail leather place mats, felt forest green cushions and the bedrooms’ fabric wallpapers, right this wrong.

What its 29-herringbone parquet-floored bedrooms lack in square footage, they compensate for with statement furniture like leather trunk minibars (complete with electric fondue sets), and bespoke upholstery, printed in Swiss pastoral scenes. In stark contrast, the bathrooms channel an urban vibe – washed in charcoal and black, with chrome accents and geometric lines. Mama’s penchant for yin and yang is catching...

Words: Sarah Freeman



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