Talk about getting away from it all – charming, traditional alpine huts are scattered all over Switzerland and offer weary urbanites the ideal opportunity to revive amid the country’s most spectacular scenery
Fascinated by the tiny house phenomenon? Well if you’re looking for a stunning nature location to match, you don’t get much more enticing than Switzerland’s collection of traditional alpine huts, all set amid the glorious countryside with nothing to disturb the peace and quiet but the sounds of chirping birds and running streams.
What is an alpine hut?
Switzerland’s alpine huts have a long history that dates back to pre-Roman times. Nomadic alpine dairy farmers would leave their valley dwellings in spring with their grazing animals and spend the summer on the pasture in the mountains before returning to the valley in autumn. To shield themselves from the elements during their time up the mountain, the alpine farmers resorted to caves or overhanging rocks, which, in the Middle Ages when alpine farming boomed, became basic stone huts, and over the centuries evolved to wooden, multi-room huts to accommodate farming equipment and facilities.
Even today, most farmers’ alpine huts are basic accommodations that don’t have a dishwasher or a bath, cable TV or internet, and some can’t even be accessed by road. Around 17,000 people still work as alpine farmers in Switzerland, with many of them operating cheese dairies, but the decreasing numbers mean many alpine huts have now been converted into cosy boltholes, increasingly appealing to the weary worker wanting to unplug.
But don’t worry, you won’t have to make a fire to get warm or cook your pot of soup. Many renovated Alpine huts have plenty of luxe appeal and feature solar panels that provide hot water and electricity, which is good news for those wanting to get off-grid without sacrificing all the modern essentials.
Alpine huts are about as simple an escape as you can find, with fresh and clean air, bubbling water from the well, the melodious jangle of cowbells and above all, a spectacular view to wake up to every morning.
Not just any old hut can be an alpine hut…
The Swiss don’t do things in halves, and not just any old wooden hut can qualify as an alpine that you can stay in. Rather, they are selected and assessed according to strict criteria. The hut must be an isolated building out in the wild or in a small hamlet and not be located on a public road with heavy traffic. It also must have minimal unnatural noise or light pollution and it must be built in a style typical for the region.
But what exactly is there to DO in an alpine hut?
That’s kind of the point… Alpine huts offer a totally alternative type of holiday – the kind of holiday where you have no choice but to live in the moment and forget about the stresses of everyday life. There is absolutely nothing you have to do, but if you want to get out and be active you have kilometres of landscape to explore. Head off on a hike or go on an adventure to track wild animals, if that’s your thing. Then, come back to your alpine hut and open that novel you’ve been meaning to read since last Christmas and just relax. Your job here is done.
Where can I book an alpine hut?