A hotel at over 2,500 metres above sea level – in 1854 that was a great risk. Three people from Zermatt took up the challenge and built the hotel on the Riffelberg. After its opening, the “Riffelhaus 1853” was an important starting point for Switzerland’s highest peaks.
Mules for transporting building materials
In the 19th century, Zermatt was still relatively unknown. The journey on foot or by mule was arduous. In the village there were only two basic accommodation facilities with a total of 17 beds.
The construction of the “Riffelhaus 1853” (2,566 metres above sea level) in 1854 on the Riffelberg by the three locals Josef Ruden, Mathias Welschen and Josef Kronig was all the more daring. Apart from stones and sand, they had to have all the building materials brought up from Riffelalp and Zermatt by mules.
After the completion of the construction, the Seiler brothers, who were familiar with the hotel industry, leased the hotel with 18 beds.
In 1862, the owners sold the hotel to the commune of Zermatt. Due to high demand, the hotel was expanded to 30 rooms in 1864.
Base camp for first-time climbers
The new hotel quickly became welcome accommodation for mountaineers who ventured to climb in the Monte Rosa area. Back in 1855, Swiss and Englishmen set off from the “Riffelhaus 1853” for the first successful ascent of the Dufourspitze (4,634 metres above sea level), the highest peak in Switzerland.
Before the hotel was built, most of the Alpine expeditions started in Zermatt. Thanks to the hotel, the climbs were shortened by many hours.
Conversion into a winter sports hotel
With the advent of winter sports, the needs of guests also changed. The owners converted the accommodation into a winter sports hotel. Today, the “Riffelhaus 1853” offers 25 rooms and suites. In the spa, guests can enjoy the view of the Matterhorn from the jacuzzi.