With my mother visiting us from the United States, we went on a mini-vacation to the canton of Valais. Along with relaxing in the mountains, we had the ultimate goal of seeing what’s arguably the most famous Swiss peak—the Matterhorn (which I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t immediately recognize!) As always, my son’s food allergies required us to undertake some additional planning. I’m sharing what we learned, including some restaurant recommendations, in case it might be helpful to others traveling to Saas-Fee and Zermatt.
Saas-Fee: The Pearl of the Alps
In Saas-Fee, we rented an apartment for three nights from the Dom Collection. The kitchen was well-equipped with the basics for cooking allergy-friendly meals. The town also has two well-known Swiss grocery stores that I refer to all the time—Migros and Coop. We were very familiar with the products and could easily find what we needed without having to read lots of new food labels.
For these reasons, we didn’t try eating out with our son at any of the local restaurants in Saas-Fee. Whenever we left the apartment, I always packed along lots of allergy-friendly snacks. These came in handy when we took two cable cars and the world’s highest underground funicular up to see the mountains towering above the Saas valley. Our chaotic crew needed a break, so we stopped in a small coffee shop surrounded by the snowy peaks for a snack. I spread out a small smorgasbord of allergy-friendly baked goods for the little guy that included some of my homemade baked goods—Petits Pains with Bear’s Garlic and glazed Madeleines. I also brought along one of our favorite cookies from the United States that we can’t find here in Switzerland: belVita Golden Oat crunchy breakfast biscuits.
Seeing the Matterhorn from Zermatt
We had two and a half days in Zermatt, and our hopes for a clear day to see the Matterhorn came to fruition, and fittingly on Easter Sunday. To top it all off, we successfully had three delicious meals at hotel restaurants with our food-allergic son. I had contacted these places in advance via email about my son’s allergies (and in English). Thankfully, all wrote back indicating they could prepare a safe meal for him.
Zermatt Youth Hostel
The Zermatt Youth Hostel served as our temporary home, and the staff there were great. While our son skipped the hostel breakfast that’s included in the nightly rate, he ate dinner in the restaurant on our first night there.
I was very impressed because the hostel went out of their way to make sure he could have a safe meal. First, even though the hostel always serves a set menu for dinner, the cook prepared a special dish for my son: a chicken breast sauteed in olive oil in a separate pan. Also, when planning the set menu for the evening, the staff person at the front desk told me they tried to avoid using my son’s allergens in order to reduce the potential risk of cross contamination. For example, instead of a typical Swiss dessert that would likely include milk and eggs and nuts, I noticed they served generous slices of fresh melon. Finally, when I had questions about how the rice and peas were prepared, the cook let me read the label for the vegetable bouillon, so I could double-check that the ingredients were safe.
On Sunday morning, the Easter Bunny left treats for the boys in the lobby of the hostel. My dear mother brought along lots of allergy-friendly chocolate and candy from the United States. It made me so happy to see my son get his fill of chocolate bunnies and foil-wrapped chocolate eggs—just like all the other kids.
In my opinion, the Zermatt Youth Hostel did a great job accommodating my son’s food allergies. Also, if your kids like bunk beds as much as ours, this is the place to stay if you’re visiting Zermatt. Plus, the hostel has a more affordable rate when compared to some of the other pricier hotels in town.
A spectacular view of the Matterhorn, excellent food and a beautiful interior, Cervo Zermatt should not be missed. We had a fabulous lunch there on Easter Sunday, and they pulled together a beautiful allergy-friendly meal for our little guy. Of course, he slept through the meal… So, he enjoyed his fancy meal in the stroller when he woke up on the way back to the hostel. We highly recommend this restaurant.
Parkhotel Beau Site
By the time we got to the historic Parkhotel Beau Site for their Easter Gala dinner, we were all tired and still full from our delicious lunch. The restaurant at the hotel is quite formal, and the gala menu included four separately-served courses, which I knew my two young children would not make it through without a major scene. Thankfully, the kind and patient servers at the hotel allowed us to all order off the À la carte menu. All of us opted out of the gala menu (even though it looked great), and our meals were excellent.
For our son, our server first brought out crudités—carrot and cucumber sticks without any dressing. Then, for his main course, he had Spaghetti Napoli—an allergy-friendly version of pasta and tomato sauce without cheese. He said this was his favorite restaurant meal from the trip!
Overall, the Parkhotel Beau Site is another great option for people dining out with allergies in Zermatt, especially if you’re looking for an elegant and leisurely meal in a more formal setting.
I’ve updated my list of allergy-friendly Swiss accommodations and restaurants to include the establishments described above. If you have any other suggestions for my lists, please leave a comment below or send an email to email@example.com. Thanks for your help! We can learn so much from each other.
During our trip, I stopped at nearly every bakery I could find! So many delicious Swiss treats to discover, and I’m hoping to share some new recipes soon. Bon week-end, everyone!