From treehouses, to space-age capsules, to containers used for polar expeditions, take a look at the quirkiest, coolest places to sleep in the Alps this summer…
Shelters Experience | La Sambuy, France
Hike for two hours though the Annecy Mountains (or hop on a chairlift from La Sambuy base station) to spend a night in a container that was formerly used during French polar expeditions. Located at the top of Sambuy resort at 1,860m, there are three shelters for sleeping (two doubles, one twin), one of which has a giant picture window for gazing at Lac Annecy from your mega-cosy bed. Breakfast is included and for an extra €30 per person they’ll even prepare a local Savoyarde dinner for you (summer fondue? Yes, please!). While the containers themselves are pretty basic, you have the luxury of a hot tub (and hot showers) at the nearby Refuge Là-Haut. From €340 for two people; €520 for three to five people.
Schlaff-Fass | Graubünden, Switzerland
Bed down in a wine barrel in Graubünden, famous for its dramatic peaks and tasty wines. Before your claustrophobia sets in, rest assured that small barrels these are not – they are mega 8,000-litre barrels that have been painstakingly converted with comfy double beds, thick blankets and windows for peak- and vineyard-viewing. There is even a separate barrel for dining, complete with an ensuite bathroom and terrace. There are two locations to choose from – Maienfeld, at the foot of the Falknis, and Jenins, with its views of the Rhine Valley, and each location can sleep up to four adults (children under the age of six stay free in their parents’ bed). From CHF180 for two people, including breakfast and a bottle of wine.
Ufogel | Nussdorf, Austria
Beam me up, Scotty! This unusually shaped cabin, raised up on skinny steel struts on a hilly incline in Nussdorf, appears to hover above ground like some sort of extraterrestrial object – a stark contrast to its pastoral environment and the traditional Tirolean chalets that surround it. Designed by architects Peter and Lukas Jungmann (we’ve no idea who they are either), the cabin’s name comes from combining two words – UFO and ‘vogel’, which means bird in German – genius. Inside the Ufogel has everything you need: a shower, woodburner, even a TV, and enough beds to sleep up to five. The best feature is the giant cushion-ladened window seat for peak gazing. From €150 per couple, plus €25 for each additional person.
Nuit Nature | Combloux, France
Totally transparent, these domes look like two giant water drops that have been carefully placed (dripped?) onto a mountain pasture. Located near the village of Combloux (15 minutes from Megève), just a short walk along a path from where you can park your car, there is a couple’s dome-for-two and a larger dome sleeping up to six adults and three children. Both are fitted with designer furniture and have big comfy beds. You get a slap-up chef’s dinner but really the highlight is the views – you have a front-row view of Mont Blanc, which is best enjoyed from the outdoor hot tub – or from under your big duvet. Just don’t forget the eye mask if you want a lie-in after the sun is up… From €410 per night, including breakfast and dinner.
Cabanes Entre Terres et Ciel | Saint-Nicolas-la-Chapelle, France
A 30-minute drive south of Nuit Nature is this place. The clue is in the name: ‘Cabins between earth and sky’. Yup this is a treetop retreat, located in the forest of Saint-Nicolas-la-Chapelle. There are four treehouses to choose from; three for couples, one for families (up to fove). All are gorgeously furnished with huge windows and lots of… wood. While one couple’s cabin has huge roof terrace complete with Mont Blanc views, and another has its own private sauna, it’s the family one that takes the biscuit, accessible by a monkey bridge and with a massive tubular slide down to the ground. FUN! From €280 per night including breakfast.
Bivacco Gervasutti | Courmayeur, Italy
Fancy spending a night in a space-age capsule that appears to be teetering off the edge of a cliff? We thought so, you daredevils. Set at 2,835m on the Frébouze glacier in the Mont Blanc massif, Bivacco Gervasutti is a bivouac (unattended shelter) named after the Turin-born Alpine climber Giusto Gervasutti; opened in 2019 it replaces a modest wooden shelter built in his memory in 1948. Designed and built two Italian architects (using helicopters to fly in each section), the solar-powered structure features a kitchen, living and dining areas, and two sleeping quarters that can accommodate up to 12 people. All you need to do is get there – it’s a challenging hike with some fixed ropes from Val Ferret, so climbing experience is essential.