Mountain huts – reservation, costs, sleeping & eating
Making a reservation
Most mountain huts can be booked online, though some huts can only be booked by phone. Some of the huts of the alpine clubs can be booked (and cancelled) online at Alpsonline.org, which is very convenient.
We always make reservations well in advance. Taking your chances without a reservation in the high season is asking for trouble. You do not want to be forced to walk to another hut or all the way back to the valley with a bunch of tired children because there are no sleeping places left.
The prices vary greatly from country to country and from hut to hut. Before you start your trek, you should always check the websites of all the mountain huts to see how much you will have to pay. The reason for this is that you will usually have to take cash with you, as in most huts you cannot pay with a credit or debit card.
In general, mountain huts in Austria and Germany are cheaper than in Italy and France. We feel the hut in Switzerland are the most expensive ones.
A standard night in an Austrian mountain hut for a mountain club member will cost €10-20 for a bed in a dormitory and €30-€35 for half board (children will in general get a discount of 20-30%). Non-members will generally pay €10-20 more pp/night. In Switzerland however, prices can easily reach €90 pp/night for a bed in a dormitory and half board. Sometimes they don’t even give discounts for the children.
We are members of an Austrian alpine club. In Austria and Germany, being a member of an alpine club will give you a considerable discount on the accommodation and the food, this can be as much as €15-20 pp/night. Privately owned huts however don’t give discounts. In Switzerland and Italy the discount is given only when you are a member of a national alpine club, such a SAC in Switzerland. We did not get a discount in Switzerland and Italy with our Austrian membership card.
Almost all huts offer half board, meaning a hearty dinner and breakfast. Generally huts will offer a cheap option (Bergsteigeressen – usually only for members of the alpine club) and a normal halfboard option. Without exception, the food is nutritious and delicious, packed with the necessary carbohydrates and fats. You will have to pay for the drinks separately. A cup of coffee or tea after the meal or during breakfast generally is included.
You can save some costs by buying the food separately (à la carte), which is usually an option in the larger huts. We however think half board is a good deal.
When it comes to sleeping, we almost always choose the cheapest option – in a dormitory (Lager or Matratzenlager). We think that this option is perfectly fine. It’s a bit sweaty and noisy sometimes, but it’s all part of the mountain hut fun. Sometimes rooms for two to six persons are available at extra costs (Doppelzimmer or Merhrbettzimmer).
Beds will have a pillow and a blanket. Normally all you will have to bring is a liner sheet. Because of corona however we had to bring our own sleeping bags and pillowcases. So always check the websites of the huts before you pack your bag.
You are not allowed to walk in on your outdoor shoes in the huts. You will put your shoes and hiking poles in a separate (drying) room. You will have to bring hut shoes – a pair of flip-flops or crocs. Some huts will have these, but don’t assume this is the case.
Österreichische Alpenverein (ÖAV)
Sweizer Alpen Club (SAC)
Planning your hikes: Outdooractive, Bergfex, Deine Berge, Bergfex en Bergwelten
Booking huts: Alpsonline.org
Finding huts: Mountain huts in Tirol – Austria
Finding huts: Mountain huts in Switzerland
Finding huts: Rifugios in Italy
Finding huts: Mountain huts in Bavaria – Germany