The Tour du Mont Blanc Refuges and Accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodation available on the Tour du Mont Blanc trek, although much of that variety is concentrated in just a few main areas. Along other parts of the trail you may be limited to a single mountain hut, which can turn into a bottlenecks that fills up quickly. We booked all our Tour du Mont Blanc refuges and accommodation roughly 6 months ahead, not by original plan, but because when we started playing around with it in late February just to see what some of the huts looked like we were startled to see that certain days were already full. We had read that trekking in September would mean smaller crowds and less concern regarding beds. However, it seemed that there were a number of groups also planning the same time frame as us and on those days some of the more popular and isolated huts (i.e. Elisabetta and Bonatti) were already booked up. So we switched to an earlier starting date (Sep 2) and got to work reserving everything. We booked as much as we could through the main TMB site, although a few places were available on Booking.com, which is preferable since you can avoid the deposits and sometimes get free cancellation.

Other posts that will help you in your Tour du Mont Blanc preparation:

The Complete Guide to the TMB

Covers all the information you need to plan your TMB trek while giving you a feeling for the day to day parts of the trek and other Tour du Mont Blanc tips.

The Tour du Mont Blanc Itinerary and Trail Description

Details on our itinerary and a trail description for each day while discussing the difficulty.

TMB Food and Drink Options

Details on the types of meals you can expect at the refuges, where the grocery stores are and what you can find in them and tips for things you might want to bring from home on your Tour du Mont Blanc hike.

The Tour du Mont Blanc Cost and Prices

An overview of the costs of a Tour du Mont Blanc hike with information on how different options will change the overall cost per person.

The Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List

A complete list of what you need to bring and some Tour du Mont Blanc tips.

Tour du Mont Blanc vs Everest Base Camp

The question of which classic trek is harder comes up a lot. This is a thorough comparison of the 2 hikes looking at difficulty, comfort, cost and other factors.

Do You Need to Book the TMB Refuges Ahead?

While we generally like to plan ahead and were happy to know where we’d be staying every night, I understand that some people either don’t know their exact dates that far ahead or prefer more flexibility. I have heard people say that they waited until a week ahead, or even a few days, and had no problem getting “most” of the places they wanted. Some of these carried camping gear as a backup (no thanks), some had to add a couple extra hiking hours certain days to reach an available bed, and some had plenty of time and didn’t mind adding in a rest day or two while waiting for availability. For us, that all sounds too stressful, and we personally liked not having to spend a bunch of time during our trek calling huts and organizing our route. But it is probably possible to leave things somewhat open (in September, anyway) if that is your preference.

Tour du Mont Blanc Refuges and Accommodation Details

Accommodation along the TMB is, for the most part, extremely comfortable. Sure, we spent most nights in dorms, but usually with good hot showers and excellent meals. A far cry from the freezing little plywood shacks on offer in the Nepalese Himalaya, for example. Of course, those very basic little guesthouses usually cost a couple dollars per night, while the relatively luxurious mountain huts on the TMB cost, well, considerably more than that. Of course, almost all of them offer communal Crocs to wear around inside, so there’s that. Some places had wifi, while some didn’t even have a phone signal to use the data on your phone.

Booking.com

Obviously, we can only comment on the places we stayed, and in many cases there are other options to consider. Hopefully this info will help you plan your itinerary, though. Prices are all per person and include dinner and breakfast unless otherwise noted. Pretty much every place offers a pack lunch for an extra fee, which I’ve included when possible.

Note: €1 = approximately 1.1 CHF (Swiss Francs)

0. Les Houches – Gîte Michel Fagot (1,000m)

€50 (pack lunch €10), free wifi in the lounge, good signal

We stayed in a fairly modern 8-person dorm. They have a very nice lounge area with books, games and comfortable furniture. There is a bakery next door and a grocery store nearby (although it was closed all day Sunday even though the sign on the door showed it as open). Excellent dinner, friendly staff and €5 beer. Nice place. Also, they will store bags for €1/day (maybe €2 or €3 for large luggage) which is handy if you are ending in Les Houches as well. We finished in Chamonix so dropped our extra bag off there before we started.

1. Les Contamines – Camping Pontet (1,190m)

€40 (pack lunch €9), wifi for a fee, good signal

About half an hour along the trail past Les Contamines, this place was a mixed bag. Even though we booked as a couple 6 months in advance and saw no option to choose a 2-person room, those rooms exist but were somehow already “full” when we got there before everyone else. I assume they take unofficial bed reservations from guides or something, but it would be worth asking about when you book. It was annoying, though. Our 6-person dorm was okay, except it was the only room without a curtain door, meaning the lights from the hall shined in all night. They have a beautiful, brand new shower area in addition to the older, original washroom. I used the new showers and could not get any hot water at all (I think I was the first person of the afternoon, so it shouldn’t have been out yet). Meanwhile, Laynni didn’t notice the new part and ended up in the old one, where she had a great hot shower. No idea if this is always the case, but it’s worth considering. There was a stuffy drying room that didn’t work well and no lines outside (that we were allowed to use, anyway). This was also the only hut on the route that did not provide Crocs. You can buy beer there or stock up on the way in the grocery store in Les Contamines where we also got lunch food for the next day. Seating for dinner and breakfast is set out by name cards, which means that you don’t get to choose who you sit beside. This gives you the opportunity to meet new people but the downside that you may not speak the same language as anyone around you. The dinner and breakfast were filling but nothing special (you can add egg/cheese/ham to breakfast for an extra €2). Overall, it wouldn’t be my first choice in Les Contamines if we went through again.

2. Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme (2,450m)

€51.50 (pack lunch €10), no wifi, no signal

Considerably higher, this place gets cold but it also commands an incredible location with views off in every direction. We got there quite early and, even though many people continued on, we were happy we stayed. We had a beautiful, calm afternoon so everyone hung around outside enjoying the scenery, making for a festive atmosphere. Eventually a group of ibex showed up silhouetted against the sunset, to cap off the day. Dinner was a chaotic affair and the food was nothing special – soup, beef and polenta and cheese/choc cake for dinner and weak tea, cereal and stale bread for breakfast. We got the pack lunch for the next day and it was pretty mediocre too – a small baguette with few fillings, couscous and a crappy cookie. However, with the location being so isolated it is understandable that the food doesn’t blow you away. However, it does fill you up enough for the next day’s hiking.

We were lucky to end up in a 4-person room with a quiet French couple, I assume because we booked early, even though you don’t get to choose your room when you book. However, you could also end up in a relatively small room with 24 beds. The shower situation felt somewhat ridiculous – the shower rooms were locked until 4:30 and we just happened to be walking by at 4:15 and saw a line already forming. So I joined in as #5 in the men’s line and only waited a few minutes after they opened. By the time I was out, though, the men’s line was 30 deep and growing. There must have been far fewer women, in general, as their line never exceeded 2 or 3. There were still men waiting in line when dinner started at 6:30. Also, inside the shower room you are either “in the stall” or “out of the stall”, meaning whenever the door opened people in the hall got glimpses of nude dudes towelling off. Quite a system. And it’s all solar, which is great environmentally, but if there isn’t any sun, there won’t be any hot water. The same applies to the electrical chargers, of which there was only one power bar for 113 guests. So try not to run your battery down before you arrive. Altogether, we enjoyed our stay because we had good weather, got a good room and got early to the shower. I know weather forecasts can’t always be trusted in the mountains but if the weather looks poor you may want to make other plans. Pretty beautiful on a nice night, though.

3. Cabane du Combal (1,970m)

€70 (pack lunch €11), no wifi, very weak signal

This was probably our favourite stay on the entire trek. It was a bit more expensive than most places but that got us a modern 4-person room with skylights, several electrical outlets and its own private bathroom (with complimentary soap, shampoo and towels). The dinner was fantastic (hello, Italy!) with pasta for a starter, porkchops with mushroom sauce, polenta and potatoes then cake and whip cream for desert and the pack lunch was incredible – we were still eating the huge sandwiches and massive chocolate bars the next day. No wifi, although if you climb the hill out back and stand at just the right angle, you just might get a single bar to use data on your phone. It is a small place and was completely full – we saw several people show up late looking cold and tired get turned away. Presumably they ended up trying to reach the bus into Courmayeur but who knows? Highly recommended.

4. Courmayeur – Hotel Triolet (1,400m)

€77 for an entire double room (2 people) with breakfast (no dinner), free wifi

This place was great. Close to the middle of town, beautiful modern rooms and an amazing breakfast. It was really nice to have a room (and bathroom) completely to ourselves for the first time since starting the trek. Courmayeur has a lot of good restaurants and some surprisingly high-end shopping (in case your backpack’s been feeling too light). Highly recommended.

5. Rifugio Bonatti (2,025m)

€55 (pack lunch €10), no wifi, decent signal

Awesome location, and a beacon of hope at the end of a rainy day. They wouldn’t let us check-in until 3:30 sharp, even though the lunch crowd had completely dispersed an hour earlier and all the staff were just sitting around looking bored. Lots of different kinds of rooms – we ended up in a 20-person dorm with the beds side by side along each wall. Well-organized with shelves and hooks, and quite social, but hard to sleep with all the snorers, the very creaky floor and the lights every time the door opened. They had a very good charging station. However, the showers were absurd. You get tokens from the front desk that give you just 90 seconds of hot water. Of course, they didn’t tell us that, and it ends without warning. Even though there are only 4 toilets upstairs for about 60 people, they have an entire room just full of sinks and 2 foot washers (or sit down bidets?). Overall, a pretty poor layout, but there aren’t many options in this area, and the views make up for a lot. It would be better if you could get into one of the smaller rooms or the highly coveted double rooms. The dinner was vegetarian (salad, small egg balls sort of like quiche but no crust, mashed potatoes/cabbage) and some people complained that there wasn’t enough but it filled us up. Breakfast was cereal / bread / cheese / fruit / tea / coffee.

6. La Fouly – Hotel Maya-Joie (1,600m)

48 CHF (pack lunch 10 CHF), good wifi, good signal

We were in a nice 4-person dorm with closets, hooks and its own electrical outlet. There were 2 toilets on our floor and great showers downstairs (men’s and women’s sides not clearly marked – an elderly Asian woman accidentally got an eyeful as I was coming out of the shower). There are also 10-person dorms. There was a large, comfortable lounge with couches, games (including foosball) and a TV. It is just a 5-minute walk from town with restaurants (good pizza at Pizza du Milieu), a grocery store and an ATM, the first place to get money after crossing over into Switzerland. Breakfast was yoghurt / toast / cereal / orange juice. All in all, a great stay. Recommended.

7. Champex-Lac – Auberge Gîte Bon Abri (1,450m)

79 CHF (pack lunch 13 CHF), free wifi, decent signal

Nice location along the trail just past the town. Check-in was at 4 pm but they let us in early. We were in what seemed like a pretty decent 6-person dorm but in the night discovered a bed bug issue. When we told them about in the morning they seemed only mildly interested, didn’t even ask what room, and told us they spray for them “sometimes”. I can’t tell you if that is still a problem or not but it’s the only place along the trek where we saw any – you may want to check current reviews before you get there. Simple dinner – soup, salad, rice and spaghetti sauce, bread and desert. It was also a bit frustrating that even though almost every trekker staying there is trying to decide between the Bovine or high Fenetre d’Arpette routes for the following day, the staff was barely even familiar with those names, and were completely unable to provide any information regarding current conditions on the high route. You would think it would come up every day. Not a great stay, especially at that price.

8. Le Peuty – Refuge du Peuty (1,325m)

65 CHF (pack lunch 10 CHF), no wifi, decent signal

A weird, basic place where you sleep in one big 20-bed dorm/barn. However, we appreciated that when we arrived quite early there was a sign welcoming us to use the facilities – which for us meant a quick shower then 2 hours of intense laundry and careful scouring of all our belongings to make sure we had eradicated all the bed bugs from Bon Abri. Dinner and breakfast took place in a yurt across the road, which was kind of atmospheric. Really good food with local produce/products with four nicely presented courses (salad, soup, chicken with mushroom sauce/rice, and desert) for dinner and included eggs in the usual breakfast. It was pretty cold but they provided plenty of extra blankets, and a mouse ate most of our Snickers bar in the night (we forgot the golden rule, hang up your food).

9. Les Frasserands – Gîte Le Moulin (1,350m)

€42.50 (pack lunch €10), free wifi, decent signal

A little off the main route, and we only ended up there because other places were already booked up, but we were quite happy we did. Big hot showers, a warm and comfortable lounge (with massive couches), good wifi, and a decent 8-person dorm. No nonsense owners, but a well-run place. Vegetarian dinner when we were there (tomato salad, mushroom with sauce and couscous, great bread and desert) but very tasty and as much as you could eat. Excellent croissants included with cereal and bread for breakfast but no protein (yogurt or eggs). Good pack lunch of sandwich, salad/rice, fruit, snickers and chips.

10. Refuge Lac Blanc (2,350m)

€55 (pack lunch €10), no wifi, very weak signal in one corner of the deck

We’ll start with the negatives – lots of day trippers from Chamonix, no official check-in until 5pm (although they let us in at 4pm), no electricity, no showers, no drinking water. They had bottles of water for sale for €3 and apparently anyone who booked before they started notifying people (which included us) was given a complimentary 1.5 litre bottle per person. Having read some of that in advance we were carrying some Aquatabs to purify the tap water (we never travel without them any more). Basic food and not huge portions – soup, bread, thin slice of pork, polenta for dinner and yogurt for dessert. On the other hand, the lake, the mountains, the valley – just unbelievably spectacular scenery. We also were lucky to have an amazing colourful sunset on a calm night providing stunning reflections off the lake. Then a couple ibex decided to bound past. A pretty perfect night despite the rather basic conditions and the loud snorer in our 6-person dorm. It won’t be your most comfortable stay but if you have good weather you could very well get the best views of your entire trek. We certainly did.

11. Chamonix – Chamonix Lodge (1,035m)

€66 total for a double room with shared bath including breakfast, no dinner, good wifi, good signal

This was a great value in a number of ways. First, €66 is very cheap for Chamonix. Second, because they weren’t full they upgraded us to a room with a private bathroom at no extra charge. Three, we had an extra bag of stuff we didn’t need while on the hike and they let us leave it in their storage room the entire time. There was a nice yard with hammocks, a shared kitchen we could use, and a basic continental breakfast provided in the morning. The only downside was the hot 10-minute walk from the centre of town.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, a big factor in your planning will be whether you are willing to stay in dorms or not. In some places they are the only option, but most have a few smaller rooms, although those tend to fill up quickly. If you do spend some nights in dorms there are a few things to think about. They all provide blankets but require you to provide your own sleep sack. If you are given a choice of beds, consider the fact that every time the door opens during the night it will make noise and let in the hall light. In general, you want to be as far away from the door as possible. Also, look at which way the door opens and pick a bed on the back side. If that’s not possible then at least pick a spot with your head facing away from it. Plus, a little etiquette tip, if you are trekking with someone else take both a top and bottom bunk together, don’t spread out and take all the bottom bunks and force strangers to climb up and down the ladder over you. It’s just polite.

Other things that can help you get a good night sleep in preparation for your next big day of hiking:

Ear plugs

Eye mask

Small pillowcase. It can be stuffed with clothes to improve upon the old, worn options on offer and gives you a relatively clean place to lay your head if the sheets/pillowcase haven’t been changed in a while (quite possible, especially in the mountain huts). Another option is to carry a sleep sack that has enough extra material to cover the pillow. Not all do.

So that’s where we stayed. In some of these locations there are many options to choose from, while others are all alone in the middle of nowhere. Some popular choices we didn’t stay in include Refuge de la Balme which has private rooms and dorms, Refuge de Nant Borrant which doesn’t have private rooms but does have one small dorm of 4, Refuge des Mottets a newly converted dairy farm with 90 dorm beds & private rooms, Rifugio Elisabetta which has private rooms and a very very crowded dorm, and Rifugio Monte Bianco. In general, I would prioritize your hiking schedule rather than adjusting things to stay in (or avoid) a particular hut or hotel, especially since most of the time you’ll only be spending a single night there.

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