Accommodation along the Tour Du Mont Blanc
Organizing your accommodation for your 6-12+ day TMB hike can be one of the more stressful parts of the planning process, especially if you’ve left it to the last minute! Given you are moving to a new location every day, there is a big effort to check availability for your itinerary dates, adjust if necessary and then secure bookings.
The good news is that there are 40+ different huts and villages throughout the 160km+ (100+mi) circuit around the Mont Blanc massif. This means there are lots of different options - depending on your accommodation preferences or desired route. However, as there are 20,000+ hikers that complete the TMB each year, in addition to those hiking smaller sections, some key huts and accommodations get booked up.
To help with the reservation of mountain huts (also known as refuges) across the 3 countries, a cross-border initiative called Espace Mont-Blanc was undertaken to bring the hut reservation system online. Not all refuges are part of this initiative, however this is a good list already available for Summer 2019. You can find them here.
For the villages along the trail, there are usually a variety of accommodation options - from dormitory, private room with shared bathroom to 5 star luxury hotels with access to premium amenities such as pool, sauna or spa.
I’ve built a booking portal that recommends accommodation options that align to your selected itinerary - whether it is a mountain hut, small family run guesthouse or larger hotels. This gives you the option to select the option that matches your budget, preference and most importantly, aligned with your TMB itinerary. Recommendations are primarily based on the ability to reserve/book online, to remove the pain of email/phone ping-pong with each accommodation.
In addition to accommodation recommendations, the portal contains all the information you need before, during and after your TMB hike, including itinerary, maps, accommodation, transport and baggage transfer options. All tailored to your selected hiking plan! You can check it out a 2min demo below;
Because the portal is tailored to each hiking itinerary, you can only gain access by first selecting an itinerary for your epic journey. Click below to determine what your hiking style is and find the best Tour du Mont Blanc itinerary for you.
**IMPORTANT UPDATE: CLOSURE OF REFUGE LA FLÉGÉRE SUMMER 2019**
Refuge La Flégère is a key location on the Tour du Mont Blanc for hikers to spend a night. The next closest accommodation options on the main trail are located 7km (4.5mi) and 10km (6mi) away. The closure of Refuge La Flégère for the 2019 summer season means that TMB hikers will need to find alternate accommodation for this night. Due to the Flégère cable car also being closed, hikers are unable to make what would have been an easy return journey to find alternative accommodation in the Chamonix valley for the night.
I’ve written a detail blog post highlighting 9 different options for hikers - either clockwise or anti-clockwise - to adjust their hiking plan based on fitness, availability of alternate huts/accommodation and desire to use the gondola to/from Chamonix. In addition, I’ve created 9 mobile map sections that align to the different scenarios.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT ACCOMMODATION
WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE Tour du mont blanc?
The types of accommodation available depend on where you are on the TMB. For example, in Les Houches, there are many 1 - 5 star hotels, hostels with dorm rooms and camping. However, in Trient, there is only one hotel. Most hikers ask this question because they would prefer to limit their nights in shared accommodation. At each finish location, these are the different accommodation options that may be available;
Dorm room: 4, 6, 8 or up to 20 bed rooms. All mountain huts and most accommodation providers in villages on the trail have dorm rooms available for hikers.
Private room with shared bathroom: Your own room to sleep at night, however, will need to use the shared shower/toilet facilities. A little more expensive than a bed in a dorm room rooms and usually can be found villages along the trail.
Private room & bathroom: Having a little luxury on the trail with your own room & bathroom is the most expensive option. Most villages on the trail have this accommodation type available.
You can read my blog post on how you should budget for these accommodation types and your overall trip. For each of the instant downloadable itineraries, I’ve listed how many nights you can spend at each of the accommodation types above.
DO I NEED TO PRE-BOOK ACCOMMODATION? WHEN SHOULD I BOOK IT BY?
I highly recommend you pre-book your accommodation, especially if you are hiking in July & August, and over the weekends in June and September. This is the period when may huts and small guesthouses book out.
The places that tend to book out first are;
Remote mountain huts, such as Refuge Elisabetta and Refuge Lac Blanc (in 2019 with Refuge La Flégére closed) that have long distances between them and the next alternative options along the trail
Mountain huts close to villages, such as Refuge de la Balme, which are popular with families and groups hiking over the weekend
Small villages with few accommodation options, such as Les Chapieux, which can booked by large hiking groups
These locations are most likely to fully book out on Friday/Sat night first given weekend hikers reserving beds too. Guided groups coming through can also spike the numbers at random times. As of February some refuges already have some nights fully booked, such as Refuge Bertone. Don’t panic though, just remember that the longer you leave it to book, the more flexibility you’ll need in your dates.
Due the locations above being positioned every 2/3 days on the trail, securing those spots ultimately requires hikers to choose what their itinerary will be. Because of this, I suggest hikers build in a rest day into their plan if they are concerned about how their bodies will handle hiking every day without a break and/or be aware of the shortcuts
With all that said, you can still go without having any accommodation booked. Just be prepared to adjust your hiking plan on the fly if your chosen accommodation is full. You can always use shortcuts (buses and gondolas) if you need to skip sections on any given day.
HOW MANY HUTS DO TMB HIKERS NEED TO STAY IN?
There are many different accommodation options along the trail so each hiker can decide whether to maximize or limit the number of nights staying in mountain huts. For those that prefer to stay in refuges, then it could be possible (depending on your hiking style aka speed and endurance) to stay every night in a hut. If staying in mountain huts - particularly in dormitories - isn’t your idea of a good night sleep, then don’t worry there are many guesthouses and hotels along the trail too.
WHAT IS IT LIKE STAYING IN A mountain HUT?
Simply amazing! The refuges on the Tour du Mont Blanc route have full time gaurdians/staff that prepare meals, clean and provide advice for their guests. Upon arrival, most hikers typically have a shower, then head onto the patio in their clean/warm set of clothes to enjoy a drink (alcoholic or non alcoholic), a snack (freshly baked fruit pie or chocolate brownie perhaps?) and meet some fellow hikers from around the world. Choosing to have half board means that you’ll be provided with a 3-course family style dining experience, usually of a local delicacy - and definitely with local produce. Most cater for dietary requirements/requests such as vegetarian and vegan, just make sure to notify them ahead of time. After a big feed and plenty of good discussion, weary hikers start retiring about 9pm for bed.
The sleeping arrangements is usually the part people who are new to alpine huts are most nervous about but you don’t need to be. Dormitories range in size from 4 to 18 beds, and usually the size of the dorm directly correlates to the nightly noise :) I guarantee you that no one else in your room is used to sharing (nor prefers it) and does their best to not disturb others. That said, some people snore and sometimes there isn’t a good blind for the window so be prepared with a good pair of earplugs and an eyemask. The thick foam mattresses and alpine grade blankets make for a comfortable and cosy snooze, although the pillows could do with a few extra duck feathers :). As I mentioned above, most of your nights can be in private accommodation so you’ll quickly be able to recover if you don’t have the best sleep.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO ONLY STAY IN PRIVATE ROOMS DURING THE TMB HIKE?
It is possible, however, you will need to select an itinerary that ends each day with private accommodation options. You will also need to make sure you book in advance so that you are lucky enough to secure the limited private rooms within mountain huts. Villages along the way are less of an issue.
DO I NEED TO BRING A sleeping bag and towel?
You will need to check with each of your accommodation choices whether they provide linen and towels (included or additional price). Some mountain huts don’t provide linen and require you to bring (or rent) a sleeping bag inner sheet, which works with the pillow and blankets they provide.
If you are interested in seeing the different accommodation options available for your TMB hike, click below to chose your hiking style and select your hiking itinerary to gain access to the tailored planning portal