Accommodation Options

Challenges

To hike the Haute Route, accommodation needs to be secured in line with your itinerary.  Given you’re moving to a new location every day, this is already a big effort to check availability for your itinerary dates, adjust if necessary and then secure bookings. Now imagine completing this process when some of the smaller alpine village accommodation providers and mountain huts do not have a way to check availability or book online. For these locations, hikers are required to email or call to check availability and secure bookings…often by translating replies in French or German. Because accommodation locations can be up to 17km (10mi) apart, you can’t design a route/itinerary based where it is easiest to secure a booking online…so every self-guided Haute Route hiker needs to be prepared to go through this process!

It is a big logistical effort to check availability of all your accommodation providers, adjust hiking dates if some are fully booked on your target night, recheck availability with new dates...and repeat until you've booked a series of dates that line up with your hiking plan. I’ve been through this multiple time and it only gets marginally easier when repeating the process!

Our Solution

I decided to re-imagine what the easiest and best experience would be for a self-guided Haute Route hiker to not just secure their accommodation but plan their entire trip, even where bookings can only be made via a call/email. What I’ve come up with is a portal containing all the information you need before, during and after your Haute Route hike, including itinerary, maps, accommodation, transport and baggage transfer options. All tailored to your unique hiking plan! You can check it out a 2min demo below;

 

Because the portal is tailored to each hiking itinerary, you can only gain access by first selecting an itinerary for your epic journey. Click below to determine what your hiking style is and find the best Haute Route itinerary for you.


Common Questions about ACcommodation

Here is some information on the most common questions I’m asked regarding the type of accommodation available on the Walker’s Haute Route.

What type of accommodation options are available on the Haute Route?

The types of accommodation available depend on where you are on the Haute Route. For example, in Chamonix, there are many 1 - 5 star hotels, hostels with dorm rooms and camping. However, in Gruben, there is only one hotel. Most hikers ask this question because they would prefer to limit their nights in shared accommodation - I’ve provided more on this below.

At each finish location, these are the different accommodation options that may be available;

  • Dorm room: 4, 6, 8 or up to 20 bed rooms. All mountain huts and most accommodation providers in villages on the trail have dorm rooms available for hikers.

  • Private room with shared bathroom: Your own room to sleep at night, however, will need to use the shared shower/toilet facilities. A little more expensive than a bed in a dorm room rooms and usually can be found villages along the trail

  • Private room & bathroom: Having a little luxury on the trail with your own room & bathroom is the most expensive option. Most villages on the trail have this accommodation type available.

You can read my blog post on how you should budget for these accommodation types and your overall trip by clicking here. For each of the instant downloadable itineraries, I’ve listed how many nights you can spend at each of the accommodation types above.

Camping along the Haute Route is also possible. I’ve written a detailed blog post on the restrictions along the trail, with recommendations on where to camp - both in official campsites and wild sites.

Do I need to pre-book accommodation? When should I book it by?

Based on my own personal experience during 2017/2018 and that of Haute Route Hiking customer bookings in 2019, it depends on when you go, accommodation type you prefer and flexibility in your schedule and highlights that you want to include. 

The places that book out first are;

- Trient: Village with limited accommodation options located at a point where hikers completing either the Tour du Mont Blanc or Haute Route need to stay a night.

- Cabane de Louvie and Cabane de Praflueri: These locations enable you to cross the Grand desert between Verbier and Arolla and most Haute Route hikers need to stay here (unless you are Elite)

- Cabane de Moiry: This is a variant from the shortest route which is not located near another accommodation option. One of the main highlights of the trail.

- Gruben: The only has one hotel and is the only place with accommodation between Zinal and St Niklaus (~30km/18mi)

- Europa Hut: Hikers completing the famous Europaweg trail and Tour of Monte Rosa also stay here

These locations are most likely to fully book out on Friday/Sat night first given weekend hikers reserving beds too. Guided groups coming through can also spike the numbers at random times. As of the second week of Jan, Cabane de Prafleuri already has some nights fully booked and Hotel Schwarzhorn in Gruben has some fully booked nights for private rooms.  Don’t panic though, just remember that the longer you leave it to book, the more flexibility you’ll need in your dates.

Mid-July to end-Aug is the peak time.  I would recommend booking all of your accommodation if going during this time.  If a hiker was planning to go outside of this time, I would still recommend booking the key locations (mentioned above).

Due the locations above being positioned every 2/3 days on the trail, securing those spots ultimately requires hikers to choose what their itinerary will be.  Because of this, I suggest hikers build in a rest day into their plan if they are concerned about how their bodies will handle hiking every day without a break and/or be aware of the shortcuts (buses and gondolas) to skip sections if you're not feeling up to it on any given day. 

With all that said, you can still go without having any accommodation booked. Just make sure you're ok to skip a night at one of the highlights (eg: Cabane de Moiry) or stay an extra night(s) at a location beforehand to wait until they can get a free spot to get through that part of the trail (eg: Gruben).  Definitely call before setting off on the day because there is no alternatives nearby.

How many HUts do Haute Route hikers Need to stay in?

It depends on your hiking style/speed, however, most itineraries have 3-4 nights at Alpine huts if they are including the trail highlights of Moiry Glacier and Europaweg or 1-2 nights if they plan to skip these.

For those that want to keep costs down and don’t mind staying in shared accommodation, there are only 2-3 places that don’t have shared accommodation so it will be depend if your itinerary has any of those locations listed.

What is it like staying in an Alpine Hut?

Walker’s Haute Route Accommodation - View of the Grand Combin range from the remote alpine hut of Cabane de Louvie.

Walker’s Haute Route Accommodation - View of the Grand Combin range from the remote alpine hut of Cabane de Louvie.

Simply amazing! Don’t get me wrong, I typically prefer my own room and don’t being kept awake by snorers, but by using some simple strategies, the benefits far out way the cost of missing out on this Alps experience! Let me explain.

Alpine huts on the Walker’s Haute Route have full time gaurdian’s/staff that prepare meals, clean and provide advice for their guests. Upon arrival, most hikers would have a shower then head onto the patio in their clean/warm set of clothes to enjoy a drink (alcoholic or non alcoholic), a snack (freshly baked fruit pie or chocolate brownie perhaps?) and meet some fellow hikers from around the world. Choosing to have half board means that you’ll be provided with a 3-course family style dining experience, usually of a local delicacy - definitely with local ingredients. After a big feed and plenty of good discussion, weary hikers start retiring about 9pm for bed.

This is the part people who are new to alpine huts are most nervous about but you don’t need to be. Most of the huts only have 4 beds in each room, so for couples, you’re only sharing with 2 others…and that’s usually only on weekends when the locals are in the mountains too. I guarantee you that no one else in your room is used to sharing (nor prefers it) and does their best to not disturb others. That said, some people snore and sometimes there isn’t a good blind for the window so be prepared with a good pair of earplugs and an eyemask. The thick foam mattresses and alpine grade blankets make for a comfortable and cosy snooze, although the pillows could do with a few extra duck feathers :). As I mentioned above, most of your nights can be in private accommodation so you’ll quickly be able to recover if you don’t have the best sleep.

Is it possible to only Stay in Private Rooms during the Haute Route Hike?

It is possible, however, it will come at the cost of some long days and missing out on highlights along the way. The main sections impacted by this preference are

  1. The longest back-country section on the Walker’s Haute Route at least 36km (22.5mi) between Verbier and Arolla. This section has 5 of the 11 mountain passes on the Walker’s Haute Route and a lot of the trail is above 2,700m (8,850ft), making it one of the most physically challenging. 4 full service huts and 2 ungaurded huts line section of the route to enable hikers cross this section in 3 days. For those that really want a private room, you’ll need to complete this section in two parts, hiking at least 22km (13.5mi) in one day to a hotel situated about 3.5km (2mi) off the trail.

  2. A night at Cabane de Moiry is one of the main highlights that draws hikers to complete the Haute Route hike. It is located between La Sage and Zinal, requiring hikers to take a 7km (4.5mi) route extension to experience this remote hut which is situated beside the Moiry glacier. The hut with shared rooms is the only accommodation at this location and therefore to continue onto Zinal for a private room would require hikers to complete 24km (15mi) and over 2,000m (6,500ft) in elevation gain and loss in one day. This is too much for most considering you’d want to spend some time at Cabane de Moiry to appreciate the glaciers beauty.

  3. The Europaweg trail is another of the main trail highlights on the Walker’s Haute Route. This is a 31km (19mi) section of trail along a balcony which includes the world’s longest pedestrian swing bridge as it leads hikers to their first sighting of the Matterhorn and ultimately finish line in Zermatt. Most hikers complete this section in 2 days and the only accommodation available is full service huts with shared rooms. There is an option that leads hikers off the Europaweg trail and down to the valley floor for private accommodation before hiking back up to complete the trail the next day. The valley is about 800m (2,600ft) below the Europaweg trail at the suggested point which is a challenging addition. If you’d prefer not to take this approach, the alternative route is hiking up the valley from St Niklaus to Zermatt which can be done in 1 day.


If you are interested in seeing the different accommodation options available for your Haute Route hike, click below to chose your hiking style and select your hiking itinerary to gain access to the tailored planning portal


List of Alpine Huts along the Haute Route

Refuge Les Grands

Location: Between Col de Balme & Trient Glacier

Accommodation Type: 15 beds in 1 room, cooking facilities, cold outdoor shower, water refill

Open: Mid-June to Mid-October

Reservation via Email: clesquereux@bluewin.ch

Refuge Les Grands:  Enjoying the morning sunrise on Glacier du Trient

Refuge Les Grands: Enjoying the morning sunrise on Glacier du Trient

 
Cabane du Mont Fort:  Storm clouds brewing above the alpine hut

Cabane du Mont Fort: Storm clouds brewing above the alpine hut

CABANE du MONT FORT

Location: Between Verbier & Col De Louvie

Accommodation Type: 58 beds in 15 rooms, shower, meals & drinks available

Open: End June to Mid September

Reservation via Email a minimum 3 days prior to arrival: cabanemontfort@verbier.ch

Website

 
Cabane de Louvie:  Well positioned next to an alpine lake for guests to enjoy during their stay.

Cabane de Louvie: Well positioned next to an alpine lake for guests to enjoy during their stay.

Cabane De Louvie

Location: Between Verbier & Col De Louvie

Accommodation Type: 54 beds, meals & drinks available, shower

Open: Start June to Mid October

Reservation via Email: claudia@louvie.ch

Website

 
Cabane De Prafleuri:  is serviced during July to September. Its winter room is open at other times

Cabane De Prafleuri: is serviced during July to September. Its winter room is open at other times

Cabane De Prafleuri

Location: Between Col de Louvie & Lac Des Dix

Accommodation Type: 59 beds, meals & drinks available, shower

Open: Start July to Mid September

Reservation via Email: prafleuri@bluewin.ch

Please note: There is no timeline on when their official website/email will be reactivated but we have secured an alternative method for booking which is available via our portal.

 
Refuge La Barma:  The dormitory is located in a loft, separate from the kitchen and dining room

Refuge La Barma: The dormitory is located in a loft, separate from the kitchen and dining room

REFUGE LA BARMA

Location: Between Col de Louvie & Lac Des Dix

Accommodation Type: 30 beds, cooking facilities

No Reservation Needed: Always open, not always manned

Questions: hc.ehcam-myg@zadnen.erdna

 
Cabane Des Dix:  Popular alpine hut for hikers in summer and ski touring parties in winter

Cabane Des Dix: Popular alpine hut for hikers in summer and ski touring parties in winter

Cabane Des Dix

Location: Between Lac Des Dix & Arolla

Accommodation Type: 109 beds, restaurant service

Open: Late June to End September

No Reservation via Email. Must reserve online.

 

GRAND HOTEL & KURHAUS

Location: Arolla

Accommodation Type: Private rooms some with ensuite, Dormitory option, Half board available, Hot Showers, Pet friendly.

Open: Mid June to Mid September

 
Cabane De Moiry:  A new cabane with a large glass facade to enjoy Moiry Glacier

Cabane De Moiry: A new cabane with a large glass facade to enjoy Moiry Glacier

Cabane De Moiry

Location: Next to Glacier de Moiry

Accommodation Type: 100 beds, meals and drinks available, hot shower

Open: Late June to End September

No Reservation via Email. Must reserve online.

 
Europa hut:  Great views of the Weisshorn across the valley

Europa hut: Great views of the Weisshorn across the valley

EUROPAHUTTE (aka europa hut)

*Not to be confused with Europaweghut

Location: Between Grächen & Täschalp on Europaweg

Accommodation Type: 42 beds, meals & drinks available

Open: Late June to Mid October

Reservation via Email: europahuette@sunrise.ch

 
Europaweghut:  It is listed as Ottavan Taschalpen on the Europaweg trail signs.

Europaweghut: It is listed as Ottavan Taschalpen on the Europaweg trail signs.

Europaweghut

*Not to be confused with Europahutte (above)

Location: Täschalp on Europaweg

Accommodation Type: 30 beds in 3 rooms, meals & drinks available, hot shower

Open: Mid June to End-September

Reservation via Email: kontakt@europaweghuette.ch

Website