We love alpine riding, and when it's snowed out in Australia, the Swiss Alps are the perfect playground. But have you ever wanted to stay like a local?
The mountains and hills of Switzerland are dotted with rustic alpine huts. Many were built hundreds of years ago for shepherds and farmers to use in the summer, when they moved their stock to higher ground to graze on the lush summer pastures and do rustic things like make cheese and cure hams. Rapid industrialisation and a switch to the service economy in the 20th century saw many of these timber huts fall out of use, but the Swiss’s love of nature runs deep, and many alpine huts are finding a new lease of life as holiday accommodation for city-dwellers and international visitors, including skiers, hikers, and mountain bikers looking to stay right in the heart of the action.
Some privately held alpine huts have been lavishly renovated, boasting saunas, luxurious furnishings, and gourmet kitchens. Others are still in the state they were left in by shepherds and cheesemakers some 60 years ago, with no power or hot running water, and wood-fired stoves for heating and cooking – offering another type of pastoral adventure. All of them are nestled among some of the most beautiful mountains in the world, and all have their own special charm.
Swiss Tourism have recently launched the Alpine Huts website, which allows private owners of nearly 300 alpine huts to rent theirs out to like-minded souls looking to explore the world’s most spectacular mountains. With a huge range of locations and prices, the website is the perfect place for mountain bikers to find a summer home where they can shred epic trails and experience mountain life.
Here’s our guide to riding and resting using Swiss Alpine accommodation in the country’s top MTB locations.
St Moritz and Silvaplana
There’s a huge range of riding around the St Moritz and Silvaplana areas, long established as the playground of the rich and famous, and the training ground of elite athletes from a huge variety of sports, looking to benefit from the area’s 320 days of sunshine a year, and VO2-boosting 1800m altitude.
The mountains that surround St Moritz to the east and west are full of over 400km of trails, from flat and flowing bench-cut singletrack, to rough and raw alpine trails higher up, and some impressive day rides like the Bernina Express, which could take you all the way to the Italian border, or beyond, and make use of the incredible Swiss rail system. The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly the Corviglia Flow Trails. These lift-accessed descents snake across St Moritz’s eastern ski slopes, boasting impressively long runs, tonnes of fun features, and breath-taking views.
Hut of choice:
St Moritz isn’t the most budget-friendly town in Switzerland, so consider staying near one of the azure lakes just to the south of this designer ski town. Ten kilometres (it’s a flat ride) from St Moritz, on the shores of Lake Silser, sits the Casa Stella Capre. It’s a quaint, renovated timber hut for up to three people, with a wood combustion stove and a well-appointed kitchen, and it rents out fast in summer