Camp fire instead of hotel bar, board games instead of après-ski, home cooking instead of haute cuisine. Tirol’s many self-catering mountain huts are the ideal place to get back to basics and enjoy the simple life. Here are some top tips for stays at these DIY hotels in the Alps.
PHOTOS Peter Neusser
Location, Location, Location: Where to Find the Perfect Hut
It’s a good idea to book self-catering huts several months in advance. That way you will have more to choose from. If you are a bit behind schedule, you will probably still be able to find a hut somewhere that is still available. Two of the best places to look online are Almliesl and Hüttenland. Both give a good overview of huts in Tirol. Before you book, it is important to find out how easily accessible the hut is as well as what it does and doesn’t have. Is it equipped, for example, with electricity? Is it possible to drive all the way up to the hut in winter?
The Basics: What You Need to Take
- Electricity supply: If the hut doesn’t have electricity, you will probably want to think about taking along a powerbank or something similar to charge your mobile phone. Not, of course, so that you can spend all your time playing Fortnite and Tetris, but instead so that you can take photos of the beautiful surroundings and make emergency phonecalls if required.
- Let there be light! Candles, matches, lighters and torches or headlamps are important tools to bring light to the dark.
- Toilet paper
- Slippers or thick woollen socks
- First aid kit: Accidents can happen. No matter whether it’s a cut thumb from peeling potatos or a stinging sunburn from too much time outside, you will be grateful to have a well-stocked first-aid kit with you. Make sure you also take a few headache tablets with you just in case you have one too many schnapps in the evening!
- Most huts don’t have bed linen or towels. It is a good idea to take a fast-drying microfibre towel and a thin sleeping bag liner. They are small and light.
- Ear plugs – after all, there is always someone who snores!
- Favourite games: Most huts have some card games and board games, but it’s a good idea to take along a few of your own just in case there is an important piece missing.
Try some traditional Tirolean games.
Be Prepared: Polish Your DIY Skills Before You Go
It may seem impossible these days, but there really still are places in the world without WLAN and LTE. That means once you are at the hut there’s no chance of checking Google or watching a quick YouTube tutorial. That’s why we recommend brushing up on your DIY skills before heading out into the mountains:
- If you’ve never chopped wood but are keen to impress your friends, check out some tutorials on youtube.
- Many huts have a firesite. Want to learn how to make a camp fire? Check out WikiHow.
- It’s a good idea to test out a few recipes at home before your adventure begins. Here are some typical Tirolean dishes that you should definitely try at some point. We recommend printing them out on paper before you head off.
Bon Appétit: Cooking at a Self-Catering Hut
One thing’s for sure: at a self-catering hut you will never find yourself criticising the food or service. High in the Alps, far from home, the only way to go to bed with a full belly is by cooking for yourself and your companions. Here are some tips.
- Pack the basics: Bear in mind that most huts won’t have a kitchen like the one you are used to at home. You should take potatos, dried bacon, eggs, butter and bread with you as basics – unless, of course, you can buy any of these from a local farmer (see below). It’s also worth taking spices, oil and coffee (plus filters and a coffee pot).
- Share the load: If you are part of a large group, it is a good idea to share cooking duties so that a different person cooks each night. That way everyone is happy and you can try out lots of different dishes. You can even decide at the end of the week whose meal was the best!
- Get your hands dirty: Sure, kitchen devices from Kitchenaid and Thermomix are useful, but you won’t find them at many huts. Kaiserschmarrn is a delicious dish which involves plenty of muscle power but is well worth the hard work.
- Sample regional produce: Try to find out if there are any local farmers near the hut who sell their goods. That means you will have to carry less up to the hut and can sample some of the best produce from the region.
Last But Not Least: Forget About Being Perfect, Just Be Yourself!
From burning everyone’s dinner in the oven to missing out on that perfect sunrise selfie for Instagram, there are lots of things that can go wrong. But, let’s be honest, is it really that important? Time spent at Tirol’s self-catering huts are a great chance to get away from it all and simply enjoy being yourself. So settle down, pack your phone away in your rucksack, throw another log on the fire and raise a glass to life itself as the snow gently falls outside.
All photos: Peter Neusser
The Best Huts in Tirol
No matter whether you are planning a backcountry skiing adventure in winter or a multi-day hike in summer, Tirol’s many self-catering huts are the ideal way to get back to nature. Here is an overview of the best alpine huts for a mountain experience in Tirol.