If you’re considering the European Alps for an adventure elopement, here’s an idea: elope in a mountain hut. If you’re from outside the EU, you’re likely unfamiliar with the networks of huts and cable cars the Alps is developed with. It’s an awesome opportunity for high alpine views at sunset, at night, and at sunrise. Additionally, it’s also one of the few ways to safely and sanely get sunrise alpine glows and impressive milky way photography at night. No grueling 2am hiking involved 😉
If you want to know EVERYTHING about eloping in one of these huts, here you go!
Mountain huts are exactly what they sound like: they’re cozy shelters with beds and warm food located at higher elevations.
In early mountaineering days they were pretty rustic, without electricity or running water. They served mostly as shelter for hikers, climbers and explorers. As decades went on, they modernized, becoming more comfortable and accessible by gondola. In Italy, they are called Rifugios, and in the German speaking regions of Austria, Germany and Switzerland, Hütten.
Some huts are very comfortable, with lots of amenities and private rooms. There are even alpine huts which are more resort like! A number of huts in the Dolomites have hot tubs, saunas, observation decks and the best food around.
Others are simpler, and have limited private rooms or only group, hostel-style rooms. These are ideal for couples who really want an adventure focused around the mountaintop, and aren’t as concerned about where they stay. The more amenities you’re willing to sacrifice, the more distant you’ll get from “tourists.”
There are also huts which serve as emergency shelters only, and probably not ideal unless you know exactly what you’re getting into. They offer shelter atop the highest, most remote summits accessible only by foot.
Generally, you pay per person, per night, with half or full board. Full board is dinner and breakfast, and half board is typically one or the other.
Stays of only one night don’t require much. If you elope in a mountain hut, you’ll only need to pack your wedding attire and other necessities in your bag, and leave the rest in your rental car or hotel at the trailhead.
It depends on the hut, but many huts in the Alps are accessible by cable cars. If you want to elope in a mountain hut, I suggest one that is reachable this way. This makes getting up with your outfits and other things super easy. Those huts do tend to be busy and crowded, however. Even huts with a small hike will be far more relaxed.
If you are the type who likes a challenge, you’ll want to opt for huts that require a significant hike. Those huts tend to have a much more “outdoor” culture, catered toward adventurers. They’re quieter and more immersed in nature, but have fewer amenities.
Some huts have only shared rooms available, so keep that in mind when looking for the perfect one.
The number one best thing about eloping in a mountain hut is being up at altitude at night. If the sky is clear, you’ll be able to walk out under the stars and explore. Summit sunsets and sunrises are unlike any other experience, and if you want photos during both, this is the way to do it.
For an example of what that looks like, check out Callie and Eric’s full gallery here.
In my opinion, there aren’t many, but you’ll need to consider some huts don’t have private rooms, and most are not anything close to 5 star hotels. Many of them are environmentally focused and have a low energy footprint, so they prioritize saving water and energy.
You will have to sacrifice a night in a luxury hotel for this more authentic mountain adventure – but trust me, the experience is worth it. Treat yourself the next day with a nice spa day or bougie hotel room in the valley.
Consider these questions:
Do you want to maximise your time in ideal sunrise/sunset light?
Do you want to try for star/milky way/moon photos at night?
Do you want a two day or multi day elopement?
Do you want emptier trails, with fewer crowds?
Are you comfortable hiking at night with a headlamp?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of those questions, then I don’t think there is a better way to experience the Alps than a night in a traditional mountain hut.
It’s also a year round opportunity. Skiing and snowboarding elopements are the perfect way to make the most of a winter wedding in the Alps.
It comes down to two main questions: how accessible do you want the hut to be, and how private do you require a room to be?
I suggest good ol’ Google Maps for searching. Drag your mouse across the area you want to be in, and look for “rifugios” or “gasthaus/hütte” with the pink “accomodation” pin. That means these are places which offer overnight stays.
When you find a hut in an area you like, visit their website, read reviews on Google and check out photos. Is this a hiking area you can imagine a full day at?
Then make sure you’re up for what it takes to get there. If the hut requires a full day hike, that might not be feasible. If it can be accessed by gondola, or a shorter 1-2 hour hike, then that’s perfect for most!
Finally, make sure the hut offers a type of room you want. Some do not have private rooms for two people, and only hostel style group rooms.
My favorite Dolomites hut: Rifugio Scoiattoli
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