Alpine Mountain Huts
What is a Mountain hut?
In the European Alps Mountain huts are known as ‘Refuges’ in France, ‘Cabanes’ in Switzerland and ‘Rifugio’s’ in Italy. Most of the ones you will come across on ‘Alpine Walks’ are manned by a Guardian or team of Guardians. Guardians will occupy huts on a weekly basis, throughout the summer season, or might live there for the entire working season. Guardians do all the jobs that running a hotel would entail, from checking you in to cooking your evening meal, they are very busy hard working people.
What facilities do they provide?
Huts can sleep up to 70 people a night, generally in dormitory style accommodation, usually in bunk beds. There is usually a dinning room where you can also purchase alcoholic or other drinks, outside of meal times. Other facilities include toilets and showers. The showers are subject to water supply and quite often a good supply of sunlight to power the solar panel heaters for the showers. There is a drying room and a boot store where you can exchange your boots for hut slippers or crocs on arrival. You’ll usually find a good supply of books about the alps, sometimes some board games and usually a stove or fireplace to sit by.
Staying in a typical hut
On an ‘Alpine Walks’ holiday, we always book our clients in as ‘Half Board’. As a result you receive a generous 3 course evening meal, a bed in the dormitory (which nowadays has a duvet and pillow) and breakfast the following morning. Please note you do need to hire or bring your own sleeping sheet!
When you arrive at your hut and check in, you should tell the guardian if you would like a packed lunch for the following day – these are a good idea if you know you won’t be passing a hut at lunch time or would rather picnic away from crowds.
The image below shows the Refuge Mottet, on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Duncan took this picture on his very first Tour du Mont Blanc back in September 1998.