Tips for a Successful Overnight Stay in a Mountain Hut

There is nothing more peaceful than hiking to a hut and spending the night high up in the mountains.

Sitting in a cozy dining room after a long day on the trails is a memorable experience. Listening to the buzz from the other hikers, playing card games, and then, retreating to your sleeping quarters all contribute to magical stays.

Though hiking to huts does require a bit more preparation and gear, it truly is a charmed adventure. We know, because we spent the last two years visiting over 36 huts in some of Switzerland’s most scenic locations.

Below we list a few tips and tricks to help you plan and execute a fabulous journey for your entire family!

Book your reservations in advance

Never, ever, and we mean NEVER hike to a hut with the expectation that they will be able to accommodate you for the evening. Most huts book up far in advance and only accept individuals with reservations. Remember, the season for most huts is very short. Huts typically operate from mid - to - late June until September/October, depending upon snowfall.

Know the route

It is essential to know the route in which you plan to hike in order to successfully arrive at your hut. Have maps, GPX files and timetables for lifts/gondolas, etc. on hand. Be aware that lifts do not operate year-round, so know the schedule in advance.


Knowing the elevation of your route from the lowest to the highest points is essential even in the summer months. Snow can be present in the Alps into late June all the way through mid - July depending upon elevation and the amount of snow fall the previous winter. There is nothing worse than arriving at your location only to discover that you cannot access part of the trail due to snow or ice.


Never rely on drinking water to be available during your hike and always carry enough water for everyone in your group. Food is also essential for maintaining energy levels and warding off hunger. Pack food that provides quick energy and powerful nutrients.


When you stay overnight in a hut, you don’t need much, but having the essentials will make your stay that much more enjoyable.


Do not forget your wallet with your travel cards, personal identification, health insurance cards and cash. Cash is necessary when traveling in the mountains, as many huts operate on a cash only basis.

Sleep Sacks

Most huts that have sleeping bunks or matrazenlagers will require you to bring your own sleeping sack, often with a pillow case. Pack a sack that is lightweight for ease of carrying. A small towel may also be required if the house has shower facilities.


Bring a change of underwear, socks, a t-shirt and a pair of quick dry pants. We typically pack clothes that we can both sleep in and wear the next day to avoid too much weight in our sacks. Bring along your toiletry bag with a soap bar for your hair and body, toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant.

First - Aid Kit

And finally, do not forget the first aid kit. Having plenty of Band-Aids, pain relief, insect bite cream, arnica, stomach medication and saline are all very important. Oh, and do not forget the sunscreen!

Now that you have an overview of how to maximize your enjoyment for overnight stays, all that is left to do is plan your next excursion.

Fresh Air Kids recommends Hotel Engstlenalp located in Berner Oberland.

This route has child-friendly activities at the start and the finish and is ideal for families with some hiking experience. The nostalgic Hotel Engstlenalp sits in an oasis of calm and encourages its guests to relax and unwind for the evening. The four lakes make this hike ideal during the summer and autumn months.

If you are still looking for inspiration on where to go including all the details, you can check - out our newest book, Fresh Air Kids Switzerland - Hikes to Huts. With 32 hikes to huts, we do all the planning so you don’t have to!


About the Author

Melinda Taylor Schoutens is a mother, wife, educator and author. Born and raised in the United States, she moved with her husband to Switzerland in 2007. Their initial contract of two - years quickly morphed into 14. Learning to be flexible and open to new possibilities has taught her a great deal. Now, as the mother of two children, Basel feels very much like home.

Melinda has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has taught adults and children on an array of topics. She has designed educational curriculum for years and has curated and delivered a lecture entitled, “The Education of Nature.” She sits on the Board of Directors for HSK English Basel and is the author of the Fresh Air Kids Switzerland book series.

To contact or to work with Melinda, please send an email to:



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