Despite usually preferring more of an upscale experience, I love hut hiking in Germany.
So much in fact that I’ve celebrated two out of the last three New Years Eves (referred to as Silvester in Germany) in a mountain hut. The same one to be exact.
So What Exactly is Hut Hiking?
It’s when you hike to a hut and sleep over. It can be for one night, or multiple nights as when we did the Tour du Mont Blanc. It allows you to explore more terrain each day, since you don’t have to account for your return time as you do with day hiking – which I tend to do more of.
Each hut is unique, but generally speaking in Germany, they serve traditional Bavarian food, and the entertainment for the evening is sitting around drinking beer chatting or playing cards. The good ‘ol fashion fun is part of the charm and is especially entertaining when done with good friends as we did. Accommodations are usually shared and very simple.
It can also be very cost-effective. A place to lay your head in a room with 13 other hikers will set you back €18, or only €8.50 with a DAV (German Alpine Club) membership. Among other benefits, your membership also includes insurance to assist you should you need to be rescued. Check it out here for full details. (Note: Not an affiliate link, I just believe everyone should have insurance if you’re heading to the mountains). In Munich their office is located on the top floor of the sports store Globetrotter. But I digress….
Don’t think that hut hiking is just a summer activity. While you won’t have wild flowers, you will have undisturbed piles of snow instead. Hiking in winter really is very pretty and if there’s a lot of snow, you can turn it into a snowshoe or skiing trip instead!
So What Is it Really Like to Sleep in a Mountain Hut in the Alps?
As much as I enjoy hut hiking, I don’t want to do it every weekend. I wasn’t kidding when I said that accommodations are usually very simple. I.e. in Lenggries Hütte (Hut) where we stayed (~1:10 minute train ride from Munich to the start of the hike) there was one toilet for ladies, 2 urinals for the men – all meant to accommodate 52 people! Albeit it there were a couple of extra sinks where you could brush your teeth or check yourself out in the mirror. Needless to say, no one is all glammed up at the hut!
Despite the fact that the only way to get to Lenggries Hütte is a 2 hour+ hike, there are no showers. We were soaked to the bone the first time we did it as it was snowing so much, but it was pretty – check out the photos here. Furthermore, sauerkraut is almost always on the menu, so you’ve got a hut full of sweaty hikers eating sauerkraut….Let’s just say that it doesn’t exactly smell of roses.
Some huts have private rooms (but still a shared bathroom), but others just offer a few sharing options. The Lenggries Hütte has rooms for 6-14 people. Both times I’ve stayed there I’ve ended up in the room with 14 people. That means that unless you’re with a big group, you will be nestled up to a potentially smelly stranger who snores! I always try to grab a spot near the wall and make my husband sleep in the middle. Trust me ladies, it’s a good tip! Huts can be busy so if you want one of the private or slightly more private rooms make your reservations as far in advance as possible. We made our reservation for 4 people for New Years in the middle of October and all the semi-private rooms were already booked.
I don’t say any of this to try to discourage you. I think everyone should sleep in a mountain hut at least once in their lives, but I do think you should have some idea of what you’re getting yourself into. And despite the lack of creature comforts I always really end up enjoying myself. The simpleness of it all, really helped me to focus on what was important – spending time with people who I love….even if they did eat too much sauerkraut.
Know Before You Stay in a Mountain Hut
- Find a hut through DAV. They have a list of almost 200 DAV huts in Bavaria alone (in German only).
- If you have food allergies as I do (gluten allergy) notify the hut in advance. Most huts have very limited menus and may be more accommodating if you give them as much notice as possible.
- You are required to bring a sleeping bag liner. This is just a very lightweight sack. Don’t worry about it not being thick enough. Huts provide blankets, the sack just keeps you from sweating on the blankets, which I’m guessing are not washed all that often.
- You will also be required to wear house shoes. These can be slippers or flip-flops, it doesn’t really matter as long as you only wear them inside. Some huts provide them as the Lenggries Hütte does, others require you to bring your own.
- You should also bring your own hand towel or body towel(if showers are available). These are not usually provided in huts.
- I highly recommend eear plugs in case you end up sleeping next to someone who snores like a bear.