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Hut etiquette for hikers

The top ten hut no-gos:

what you should better avoid in order not to attract negative attention when staying at Ötztal huts.


Arriving without a reservation

Not a good idea if you want to get a guaranteed place to sleep. It's not that easy during holiday seasons and weekends. Because hiking is booming. You can book by phone or online on the hut websites. The latter show if a place still has available beds. So the hut tenant doesn't have to answer the phone a hundred times to say "fully booked". You can also find out on the web when the Ötztal huts are open at all - usually from June/July to mid/end September. Short-term changes are possible, for example due to bad weather towards the end of the season.

Unfortunately, you can't come? Then please cancel reliably. This means that someone else can make a booking, the hut keeper can adjust his shopping list and the mountain rescue team doesn't have to look for people who did not show up at the hut.

By the way: if you want to take your dog with you, please ask the hut tenant already in advance whether this is possible.


Being a mucky pup

The hut keeper loves house-clean guests. So, anyone who marches into the dining room, bedrooms or washrooms with dirty mountain boots commits a real blunder. Therefore, leave your shoes and hiking sticks in the entrance area of the hut. Or in a separate boots or drying room. Often there are also hut slippers for rent.


Being the skunk in the dormitory

You will look in vain for single rooms at most huts. They are in the hotel down in the valley. At refuge huts in the high mountains, on the other hand, shared rooms or dormitories are still standard. There you will notice that a hut is not a climatic health resort as the good mountain air is mostly outside. Inside rather not. Because some things develop an odorous life of their own once they reach a certain operating temperature. That's why socks that stand on their own have no place in bedrooms or guest rooms. Their natural habitat is the boots storage room.


Trusting in showers and sockets

Water is often scarce in huts - and wastewater is problematic. That's why you sometimes have to reduce personal hygiene to the socially acceptable minimum. Even if everyone interprets it differently. And because electricity is just as precious far away from civilization, you may not be able to charge your cell phone. But it’s not the end of the world if you can't be reached for a day or two. That‘s a promise.


Asking for the WiFi password

To all permanent posters and endless surfers: you have to be very strong now! Because there is no WiFi on most refuge huts. Often not even phone reception. How do you still survive being offline? You just talk to your neighbor. It may sound like 1990, but for a long time it has helped humanity progress quite well.


Demanding special treatment

First of all: your own food should stay in your backpack at the hut. That is fairness. Because hut tenants mainly earn money from your consumption. The host also usually has something suitable for allergy sufferers and vegetarians. But because of limited resources he can't take care of all special wishes. Nevertheless, he will take care of your concerns in the best possible way. Just not always immediately. The difference between you and him: you are here for recreation, he is here for work. Stay calm when the place is busy. You are on vacation, not on the run. By the way: "please" and "thank you" are helpful magic words!


Doing without a hut sleeping bag

On classic refuge huts, you have to slip into a thin, unlined sleeping bag before you cover yourself with the blankets provided. Because of hygiene and environmental protection. If bed linen were constantly washed, a lot of waste water would be produced in the sensitive mountain habitat. For the forgetful, many huts also have sleeping bags for sale.


Snoring concerts

At the classic snoring concert, only one person sleeps: the soloist. All the others in the same room do not close their eyes, staring at the ceiling in annoyance - by the way, not a very fulfilling activity in the dark. So if you like sawing wood all night long: take a room that you share with as few others as possible. For everyone else, earplugs are strongly recommended. Just to be on the safe side.


Trampling around

At the refuge huts run by Alpine Clubs, there must be nighttime peace from 10.00 pm to 6.00 am. Because tired hikers need rest. And the hut tenant anyway. He is usually the first to get up and the last to go to bed - after a 16-hour workday. If you leave early in the morning, don't be a poltergeist! Take your backpack (ideally packed the evening before), don't rustle and palaver endlessly, but tiptoe out of the dormitory quickly. As a precaution, have a headlamp ready. After all, you won't earn any bonus points if you unabashedly turn the light on at 5.00 am.


Doing without cash

"Which card do you accept?" Simple answer: usually none at all. In mountain huts, it is often still true that only cash is real! Credit cards are as useful there as diving goggles in the Sahara.

Good to know

These golden rules of etiquette are easy to follow and cost nothing extra - except a little consideration for one another. They apply to classic, serviced mountain huts with overnight accommodation. There may be different guidelines for alpine huts (often no overnight stays), self-catering huts and apartments on the mountain (both usually without catering).

hut staying overnight
Uwe Grinzinger

Author: Uwe Grinzinger

The passionate mountain photographer, journalist and hiking guide instructor loves to be out and about in the quiet spots of the Alps. Therefore, he has enough to discover within Ötztal and surroundings. www.agentur-bergwerk.at

This article was first published in June 2023.