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Mountain hut elopements are my favourite type of adventure elopement in the Alps and the Dolomites. They offer a truly unique and authentic alpine experience that you can’t get anywhere else in the world. For couples dreaming of a hiking elopement, I highly recommend considering making your elopement a multiple-day adventure and staying in a mountain hut.

Mountain huts in Tirol and the Dolomites are in some of the most incredible locations, and you might be pleasantly surprised at how easy some are to reach (considering their rather remote locations).

And watching a sunset and sunrise from high up in the mountains is, in my opinion, one of the most incredible experiences you can have. To be surrounded by complete silence, except maybe for a few calls from marmots or a nearby waterfall and watch as the golden sunlight kisses the tops of the mountains and sets the peaks on fire, well, it’s a pretty magical experience.

Mountain Huts in the Alps – Some Background

Throughout the Alps you’ll find mountain huts in some of the most breathtaking locations high up in the mountains. In the Alps and the Dolomites they are commonly known as Berghütten in German or Rifugio in Italian. These mountain huts provide a place to stay in the mountains for hikers and mountaineers where they can get a hot meal and a warm bed before continuing on their journey the next day. The accommodation is simple, no fills, but the views are better than than anything you’ll get in a 5* spa hotel.

Many of the mountain huts are run by the Alpenverein or Club Alpino – the national mountaineering association. However, just because a hut is in one country, it may be owned by the mountaineering association from another country. This is very common in Austria for example, where many of the huts are actually owned by the German Alpenverein, which is why many of them are named after places in Germany (fun fact).

What these mountain huts may lack in 5* luxury, they definitely make up for in atmosphere and an unforgettable experience. So if you can survive for a night or two without wifi, and you’re ready for the full alpine experience, then it’s definitely worth considering a mountain hut elopement for your adventurous wedding.

A mountain hut in the Austrian Alps at sunrise with green meadows and rocks in the foreground and high mountains in the distance.

Why Have A Mountain Hut Elopement?

So if they are basic, why would you swap a night in your 5* hotel with a spa for a night in a mountain hut?

Just because mountain huts are a bit on the “rustic” side, I definitely think they should be considered if you are looking for a truly unforgettable adventure elopement in the Alps.

There are a number of reasons to stay in a mountain hut, even when you technically could have done the hike in one day. Some reason you might want to stay in a mountain hut include:

  • As part of a multi-day, long-distance hut to hut hike
  • To experience the sunset and sunrise from the top of the mountain
  • To have the flexibility of shooting at sunset and/or sunrise, having two opportunities for golden hour in case the weather is bad on one of the days
  • To have a remote mountain location just for yourselves
  • To break up a hike so you don’t have to do the out and back in one day
  • To make the adventure last over multiple days
  • For the experience of sleeping in a mountain hut at altitude

Your elopement should be epic and unforgettable, and I believe staying in a mountain hut overnight can be and incredible experience. But I know that it’s not an experience that’s for everyone.

So below I want to tell you all about what it’s really like to stay in a mountain hut, and then show you what incredible adventures are made possible when you do, so that you can decide if this kind of alpine adventure fits your vision for the perfect elopement.

A mountain hut elopement location in the Dolomites. A bride and groom in a tight embrace with a stone mountain hut and tall mountains in the distance.

Mountain Hut Views

To get you inspired for what the views are like around some of the mountain huts, here are some sunrise and sunset photos from some of my favourite ones in Tirol in Austria and the Dolomites in Italy:

The Mountain Hut Experience

I’ve stayed in a number of mountain huts around the world, and whilst there are subtle differences from country to country, most things are the same. Some are certainly more modern and offer a higher level of “modern comforts” than others. But in general, mountain huts are very much “no frills” accommodation. After all, they are there for a purpose – to be a place of rest and shelter for hikers and adventurers in the mountains.

The Hildesheimerhütte mountain hut in the Ötztal Alps in Austria

Arrival & Checking-In

Mountain huts are small and beds are limited so it’s essential to book in advance, especially if you want a private room, which are only available in a small number of huts.

Most huts allow you to check in from around 2pm and will expect you to arrive before 6pm. If you are going to be late you must let the hut know, as some huts will give away beds after this time as they may assume you are not coming.

Some huts allocate specific beds whereas others will just allocate rooms and you can pick your own beds, much like in youth hostels. Once you’ve found your room and chosen your bed, I recommend getting your bed ready for sleeping right away so that you’re not fumbling around in the dark later in the evening when some of your roommates may have already turned in for the night. It also means that your bed is indisputably claimed as yours.

Bride and groom cuddle outside a mountain hut in the Dolomites after their elopement wedding

Sleeping Arrangements

Private rooms for two people in mountain huts are a rare find. Even in huts that do have two person rooms, you will often find bunk beds rather than a double or twin beds as it’s all about being efficient with space in the huts.

Small rooms for 2, 3 or 4 people and are often the first ones to book out by smaller groups and families. The later you book, you’ll more likely to find there are only spaces left in larger dorm rooms for 6-10 people in bunk beds and the Matratzenlager (the mattress room) where mattresses are laid out in a long row, sometimes with small dividers in-between.

Unlike a hotel, many mountain huts don’t have the facilities to do laundry every day, so the pillow and blankets you will find on your bed are not changed for every guest. Instead, you’re expected to bring your own hut sleeping bag, which is a thin sleeping bag liner, to put between your blanket and the sheets and over the pillow.

However, there are a few huts in Tirol and the Dolomites where there is fresh bedding provided for every guest (sometimes for a supplemental fee). The mountain hut will tell you if you need to bring your own liner or if bedding is provided. Very few provide towels to you’ll need to bring a towel if you want to shower too.

A luxury mountain hut in the Dolomites
A four-person room (fourth bed is behind the door)
The matratzenlager in the Sulzenau mountain hut in Tirol
A typical matratzenlager

Mountain Hut Facilities

Mountain huts don’t really have much in the way of amenities. After all, they are in pretty remote locations, often without access to mains water or electricity. But they are warm and dry, and give you the chance to have a true alpine mountain experience.

Most mountain huts have communal washrooms with sinks, toilets and showers. Because hot water is limited, if you want a hot shower, expect to pay up to €10 for a hot shower.

Most huts do have electricity, so you can usually charge your phone, but finding an available plug socket can be a challenge (usually you need to get in there fast as everyone wants to charge their stuff). You may also find that in some huts the electricity is from a generator which is turned off at night, so anything left charging overnight won’t actually charge. On single overnight trips, I bring a power pack instead.

Many mountain huts don’t have any cell signal, let alone WIFI (although I have found a couple that do), but expect to spend the night offline. Most huts have a selection of books, card and board games, or you can just spend the night chatting with your fellow hikers, swapping stories and having a few drinks before turning in for an early night since you’re probably going to be getting up early for sunrise anyway!

Food & Drink in Mountain Huts

Mountain hut food is hearty filling food designed to refuel you after a long day hiking. You can expect to find traditional alpine dishes like goulash with pasta or knödel (dumplings) on the menu. If you have dietary requirements or allergies, it’s best to let the hut know in advance, but don’t expect that you will be catered for. As a celiac vegetarian, it can be a challenge to get food in some mountain huts, so I always have a backup hiking meal or some gluten-free pasta in my backpack just in case.

Mountain hut overnight stays are usually booked with half-board, which includes a three-course evening meal from a set menu and breakfast with some bread and jam, possibly some meat & cheese selections or muesli too and a hot drink. Some huts offer a limited a-la-carte menu as an alternative to half-board. The more remote the hut is, the more limited the menu is, as supplies need to be flown in by helicopter!

Meals are served in the communal area of the hut, usually around large tables where everyone sits together. In most huts dinner is usually served at a fixed time, usually between 6-8pm and breakfast from 6-8am. Many huts are self-service, so you’ll need to go up to the counter to order and to get drinks, and be expected to clear up your table when you’re done. It’s usually cash only and huts prefer small change so make sure you have plenty with you. When it comes to drinks, most huts will have beer and wine, as well as some warm and soft drink options. Drinks are generally not included in the half board, so remember to take some extra cash if you’re expecting to have a few drinks in the evening.

Bride and groom eat bread and jam for breakfast in a mountain hut after their elopement in the Dolomites

Checking Out

A lot of the remote mountain huts only accept cash payments, so make sure you take enough cash to pay for your stay and the food and drinks you consume at the hut too. Some huts will ask you to pay for your stay on arrival or at the latest after dinner so that in the morning you can leave whenever you are ready to go.

Most huts don’t have facilities for the disposal of rubbish, so you are expected to take your trash with you when you leave. It’s also considered polite to fold your blankets and leave you bed as you found it.

Mountain Hut Etiquette

When you enter a mountain hut you’ll be expected to take off your boots and any wet gear before you go to your room. There is usually a boot room right by the entrance and many have slippers that you can borrow if you don’t want to bring your own up the mountain just for one night. Otherwise, walking around in your socks is also fine. Many boot rooms also have clothing lines hung from the ceiling where you can hang up your wet clothes too – just make sure they aren’t dripping on someone else’s stuff.

Boot room in a mountain hut
A typical “Schuhraum” or boot room as you enter a mountain hut

When it comes to sleeping, be respectful of the people you are sharing with. Some people will go to bed very early, and many will get up early the next morning for an alpine start. Have a torch if you need to find your way about in the dark, and try to be as quiet as possible if you are coming in late or leaving early for sunrise photos, I recommend having everything prepared the night before so you can sneak out of the room to get ready without waking everyone else up. Most of the time you’ll be coming back to the hut after sunrise photos for breakfast so you can pack you bags later once everyone else is awake.

How Much Does A Night in A Mountain Hut Cost?

If you are a member of the Alpenverein (Austrian Alpine Club or a partner organisation) you can get a discount of around €10 on your stay in many mountain huts (although some huts in the Dolomites do not offer discounts for AV members).

Average prices for a single night in a mountain hut in Tirol:

Room TypeBed Only (per person)Half Board (per person)
Matratzenlager Adult€22 / €12 AV members€55 / €45 AV members
Multi-bed room Adult€30 / €20 AV members€60 / €50 AV members
Two-person room (not available in all huts)€45 / €30 AV members€85 / €70 AV members

Average prices for a single night in a mountain hut in the Dolomites:

Room TypeBed Only (per person)Half Board (per person)
Matratzenlager Adult€30 / €16 AV members€65 / €55 AV members
Multi-bed room Adult€45 / €30 AV members€85 / €65 AV members
Two-person room (not available in all huts)€45 / €30 AV members€85 / €65 AV members

Are Mountain Huts Open All Year?

Most mountain huts are open in the summer months from late June until late September/mid-October depending on their altitude, but much depends on the accessibility and snow conditions. Most are closed in the winter months with the exception of a small number that are accessible my mountain lift. Some also have a winter room for ski tourers but are not serviced in winter.

So What Could A Mountain Hut Elopement Look Like?

Here are just a few impressions from elopements that have included an overnight stay in a mountain hut:

A sunset mountain hut elopement with a bride and groom standing on a cliff edge as the sun is setting behind them.
Bride and groom stand on the edge of a cliff and the bride embraces the groom from behind at sunset as the mountains glow pink behind them near a mountain refuge in the Dolomites.
A climbing elopement in the Dolomite mountains of Italy. https://rifugiokostner.it/en

>> Click here to see the full story of this 3-day hut to hut Dolomites elopement

Hiking elopement at San Martino di Castrozza in the Dolomites by Wild Connections Photography
Adam & Michelle's hiking elopement in the Dolomites by Wild Connections Photography

>> Click here to see the full story of this trekking elopement on the Alta Via 2 in the Dolomites

What To Pack For A Mountain Hut Elopement

As I’m sure you’ve realised by now, mountain huts don’t quite offer the luxuries that you’ll be used to if you’ve been staying in a fancy hotel or boutique Airbnb. However it’s far more comfortable than camping (plus wild camping isn’t allowed in Tirol or in many places in the Dolomites). While there are beds and bathrooms, you may still need to bring some form of bedsheet, towel and toiletries with you.

Remember though, you’re probably going to be hiking in and out, so you want to pack the essentials but don’t overpack. Because every gram counts when you’re hiking all day.

So what are the things that you should pack for an overnight stay in a mountain hut for your elopement? Here’s my list of mountain hut essentials for an overnight trip in summertime:

  • 35-50l Backpack
  • Gore-tex hiking boots (which you’ll be wearing of course)
  • Your wedding clothes rolled into a waterproof stuff sack
  • Trekking poles (optional)
  • Packable lightweight waterproof jacket & rain pants
  • Spare hiking socks
  • Warm mid-layer
  • Sunglasses, hat, sunscreen
  • Refillable water bottle & snacks for the hike
  • Phone + battery pack
  • Small wallet with plenty of cash (and Alpenverein membership card if a member)
  • Headlamp
  • Hat, gloves, base-layer & insulated jacket if you want to get up early for sunrise
  • Hut sleeping bag / sleeping bag liner
  • Travel towel & wash bag
  • Clean underwear
  • Hut slippers (many huts have slippers you can borrow if you don’t want to bring your own)
  • Eye mask & ear plugs (if you’re a light sleeper & in a shared room)
  • Waterproof bag/stuff sack for clean clothes & electronics to keep dry in case of rain
Bride and groom stand hand in hand facing each other wearing backpacks in the Austrian Alps.

Do we have to hike with all that gear?

You might be looking at the packing list and thinking that’s an average trekking weekend (minus the wedding clothes). Or you might be thinking how the *$%! are you going to carry all of that up a mountain?!

That’s where route planning and hut choice will play a big factor in planning your elopement, and where my local knowledge can really help. The are some mountain huts that are so remote that you do have to hike for a whole day to get to them. But there are others that can be accessed via a cable car and a short hike. There are also some that offer the option of transporting your luggage up in their goods lift while you hike up. All these options have their advantages and disadvantages, so when we’re in the planning stages if your elopement, we’ll try to find the best option for you that fits with how you imagine your ideal elopement adventure to be.

A man & a woman with backpacks facing into the distance looking at the mountains
Hiking with a wedding dress rolled in a waterproof stuff sack on the outside of the backpack

Mountain Hut Elopement Packages

If you love hiking and backpacking in the mountains, I think you’ll love a mountain hut elopement. All of my elopement photography packages are created based on exactly what you are looking for, and if that includes two days of adventuring, vows and photos at sunset or sunrise (or both) and capturing the experience of sleeping in a mountain hut, I’ve got it covered, with 2-day coverage starting at €8500 with the option to add on additional days too.

Contact Me for a consultation

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