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 some huts you can´t 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.
Most huts will do packed lunched (between €7 – €12 per person). Generally you will have to make a reservation for these when you check in.
Check before you go if there is drinking water in the huts. A lot of huts – especially in Switzerland – will not have free drinking water available. You will be able to buy bottled water in these huts, but it will cost you dearly. €7 for a 1 liter bottle is a normal price in these huts.
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. All you will have to bring is a liner sheet. In all huts is mandatory to use one.
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.
Not all huts will have a shower, and some of them don’t even have an inside toilet. The toilet may be an outhouse with a hole in it. So be prepared to be a bit flexible.
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