Most of the nights on the trail are spent in the Alpine huts
The Alpine huts are huts that provide a sleeping place, hot food and shower (in most cases, and usually for extra fee), all of this for a relatively low price (considering that in some cases the supplies to the huts are brought by helicopters).
Most of the huts you will stay in are members of the Europeans Alpine Clubs. The clubs are organizations that gather people who like to hike in the Alps or participate in Alpine sports. Membership in an Alpine club entitle you about 50% discount on sleeping prices, making the membership a profitable decision after only 4 nights (Information on how to join a club can be found in “Tips”).
The huts are great location to meet fellow hikers. If you are not from Europe (or even not from Germany) you will be quite a rare view there. The Germans (at least the German hikers) are very fun people to talk and spend the evenings with.
The hut will provide you with a comfy mattress (most of the time), blankets and a pillow.
Each hut has a room where you put your dirty stuff in (Shoes and hiking poles), in some cases there is a modern drying room where you can leave your wet stuff over the night.
In order to enter the sleeping compartment of the hut you must have some kind of flip-flops (we took crocs), you leave your shoes in the appropriate room. In addition to that you must bring a sleeping liner with you. The huts owners don’t wash every day (and maybe not even every week) and that’s why you are asked to bring your own sleeping liner to sleep in and separate you from the huts sheets. If it’s not clear: you don’t need a sleeping bag, only a liner.
You are probably wondering what about reserving places in the huts. Generally there’s no problem to find a free bad, but there are 2 exceptions:
1. Some huts are more likely to get full because they are more touristic then others (Those huts are noted in the “Days Guide").
2. There is always the risk of full huts on the weekends (Friday and Saturday nights).
As a rule of thumb, it’s recommended to call a day or 2 in advance and make a reservation (You can ask the owner of the hut you are currently sleeping in to make the call for you). In the more touristic huts and before weekends it is recommended to make earlier reservation.
You should know that as a member of the Alpine club, the huts (that are memebers of the clubs) are obligated to do anything they can to find a place for you even when they are full (aka putting a mattress for you in the kitchen if that’s what it takes). You should not take this as granted, you should reserve beds. But It’s good to know in case of emergency.
The prices in the huts (that are members of the clubs) are (approximately): 10-12 euros for a bad in a shared room (called Lager). 9-10 euros for breakfast (mostly are buffet). 8-10 euros for evening meal (some huts offer full manu – first dish, main dish and dessert). 3-4 euros for half a litters of beer. 2-3 euros for a few minutes of hot water (shower).
Generally the Italians huts are about 10-20 euros more expensive.
One important thing to note: as not-German tourists (maybe even not Europeans) you are a rare view in the huts and so represent the place you are coming from. So please, act kindly and politely, leave a good impression :)