Walker’s Haute Route accommodation

One of the highlights of walking in the Alps is the quality and variety of accommodation available, quite different to my usual experience in the New Zealand backcountry. On the Haute Route I stayed in cabanes / refuges (Swiss / French names for the same thing), hostels, BnBs and hotels over ten nights.

While far less popular overall than the Tour du Mont Blanc you still need to book accommodation well in advance, at least three months. Particularly popular spots (especially at the weekends) were Cabane des Dix, Cabane de Moiry, Europa Hut, and Refuge Le Peuty (as this is on the Tour du Mont Blanc).

Costs were typically between CHF60 and CHF90, including dinner and breakfast at the cabanes, and breakfast only in the hotels / BnBs. There were some extra charges for showers and water as noted below. Switzerland is not a cheap country!

Chamonix Lodge (1,036m above sea level)
Where I stayed at the start and end of the Tour du Mont Blanc last year, the best hostel in Chamonix. It’s a bit of a walk into town but is quiet and well run.
Views – from the lounge on the first floor are great views up the mountainside, particularly at sunrise
Room – had a small private room though dorms available
Food – basic breakfast included
Drinking water – tap water fine
Showers – free, two of them, hot

Refuge Le Peuty (1,328m)
A wonderful refuge to stay at on my first night walking the Haute Route. It was smaller than most with only 22 bunks, and had a lovely atmosphere, a garden offering views up the valley to Trient Glacier, and meals were served in yurts! The whole place had a rare attention to detail and thought put into it.
Views – very pleasant, first of three places I stayed with glacier views, though this was the least spectacular, which says something about the others…
Room – one large dorm room for everyone, at least one snorer guaranteed
Food – dinner and breakfast were outstanding, best of the places I stayed
Drinking water – tap water fine
Showers – free, two of them, hot

BnB Claudy et Elizabeth Michellod-Dutheil in Le Chable (821m)
Basically someone’s house with a couple of spare rooms for guests, which worked fine. It was nice to have my own room but I did miss the shared atmosphere of cabanes / refuges. They’re not an option for much of the Haute Route as the track goes through more towns and villages than the Tour du Mont Blanc where I exclusively stayed in refuges.
Views – nothing compared to the cabanes but the balcony had nice views of the hills and villages above
Room – typical spare bedroom, but had doors straight onto the balcony, and own room so no snoring…
Food – only breakfast but was tasty, standard bread and cereal combo
Drinking water – tap water fine
Showers – free, one of them, hot

Cabane du Mont Fort (2,457m)
A fairly basic cabane, though having a twin room to myself was a bonus. It was less than half full, quite a different experience to the Tour du Mont Blanc where everywhere was full or near full.
Views – pretty stunning across the valley
Room – had a twin room to myself (though just booked standard dorm), ideal though angled roof a bit of a head risk, there were also larger dorm rooms with perhaps up to six beds
Food – average, everything tasted as if it had come from a packet or tin
Drinking water – tap water fine
Showers – CHF5 for two minutes, two of them, hot

Cabane des Dix (2,928m)
A quite spectacularly located cabane. Understandably popular, it was completely full on a Saturday night, pretty noisy and crowded. Staying here is a few hours detour off the main Haute Route track but was well worth it.
Views – stunning views of the huge Mont Blanc de Cheilon and Glacier de Cheilon, feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere, which you pretty much are!
Room – dorms rooms of around eight people each, pretty compact
Food – very good and plenty of it, very efficient service. If you’re keen they start breakfast from 4.30am to cater for the many climbers who use it as a base
Drinking water – can’t drink the tap water, have to buy 1.5 litre bottles CHF9
Showers – free, one of them, freezing cold (outdoor!)

Cabane de Moiry (2,825m)
Possibly the best located place I stayed, if requiring the most effect to reach. Despite being slightly lower than Cabane des Dix I felt the effects of altitude much more here, probably due to the steep climb to reach it, and several flights of stairs to reach my dorm room. This is also a couple of hours off the main Haute Route track, and involves backtracking a bit but was definitely worth it.
Views – quite staggeringly close to the epic face of the Glacier de Moiry, which could be seen perfectly from the glass box dining room
Room – spacious dorm rooms for around 16 people though there were only 7 of us when I stayed, but unfortunately one bad snorer. There are also private rooms available for more money
Food – good and plenty of it
Drinking water – can’t drink the tap water, have to buy 1.5 litre bottles CHF8
Showers – CHF5, one per gender, warm

Cabane Bella Tola (2,346m)
Enjoyably relaxed and quiet compared with the previous couple of places, this was worth the hour and a half detour to reach from the main track.
Views – a 270 degree panorama of mountains, including the Matterhorn, best seen at sunrise
Room – relatively spacious dorm room for ten people though I had the whole thing to myself, there were smaller rooms where families stayed
Food – pretty good and plenty of it
Drinking water – tap water fine
Showers – free, three of them, hot

Hotel La Reserve in St Niklaus (1,127m)
Looked dated from the outside but inside was recently renovated and very nice.
Views – car park outside window but views up the valley
Room – decent own room for the night
Food – only breakfast but was my favourite of the trip with a wide range of breads, cheese, meats, cereal, smoked salmon, and yogurt
Drinking water – tap water fine
Showers – free, en-suite bathroom, hot

Europa Hut (2,220m)
Not the greatest cabane but it was a pleasant place to stay. It is the only accommodation on the two day Europaweg part of the Haute Route so can book up quickly though there were a few spare spaces the night I stayed.
Views – very good other than a few pines right in the middle of the views of the glacier and the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge, they couldn’t have been positioned better to block the sight lines…
Room – packed dorm for six people though well organised and space for packs in corridor
Food – pretty good, unusually had individual meals rather than large bowls per table to self serve
Drinking water – tap water fine
Showers – CHF4, two of them, hot

Hotel Jägerhof in Zermatt (1,606m)
I finished the trip in relative luxury at this decent hotel in lovely Zermatt, on a quiet street a few minutes walk away from the town centre.
Views – quite nice views of the town centre could be had by sticking my head out of the window…
Room – very good, tidy
Food – only breakfast but what you’d expect from a decent hotel, wide range including first trip sighting of eggs!
Drinking water – tap water fine
Showers – free, en-suite bathroom, hot

All the places I stayed had electricity for charging devices though plug sockets can be limited so best find them when you arrive. They can be well hidden, Cabane de Moiry‘s were in the kitchen area while Europa Hut‘s were hidden in the end of the light fittings in the bathrooms!

Author: jontycrane

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