Booking a mountain chalet has never been so cool and easy
On a late evening in August after many debates back and forth Sam and I took a very spontaneous decision: let’s travel local, let’s be unconventional, let’s be spontaneous: let’s do our summer holiday in Austria and stay in a mountain chalet.
As soon as the decision was made we got incredibly excited by the idea, until the moment we realized: we have no clue where to find yet even book a mountain chalet. Hopes were high when we opened Booking.com, AirBnb and some very dodgy local platforms. Those high hopes were shattered, since results were scarce and not inviting. “This can’t be, there has to be something easy to book”, my inner Austrian was insisting. And she was right, because a couple of Google searches later we found salvation: urlaubambauernhof.at / farmholidays.com. I was shocked: one website focused entirely on “back to the roots” accommodation in Austria, might it be farms or mountain huts. And all of that not in strange retro layout, but in a sleek and very appealing interface. Are you as intrigued as we were? Read on if you want to know how easy it is to book your dream “back to nature holiday” in Austria.
Farmholidays, available in German as well as English, has a couple of sections that help you find what type of holiday you want to book: reasons for travel and also holiday categories, from vineyards to chalets and organic farms. A visual map lets you click on the region you are interested in, explaining what makes each region unique and things to do. Sam and my criteria were driving distance from Vienna and lots of mountains. Carinthia was an easy pick. We entered our preferred dates on the booking section and boom: we had options over options listed. Also here we were rather impressed: each hut comes with a profile, featuring realistic photographs, a short description, the price for your stay and contact details.
Half an hour of daydreaming later after seeing all the Heidi-like huts, we narrowed down two favorites. Since there is no direct booking option, we sent a request to the owner. In the beginning we were a bit skeptical, but it worked out perfectly: half a day later we received an answer from both requests. After two very friendly phone calls we took our pick: The Mühlbacherhütte in Mörtschach, upper Carinthia. Here are two tips from me, the Austrian hut expert (not): Ask exactly what you need to bring, since mountain huts are not five star hotels in terms of towels, bed sheet and kitchen equipment. Also, bring sufficient cash as Austrian farms don’t usually come with ATMs or card payment systems – surprise, right?
Three days later there we were with our car full of food to be self sustaining on the mountain, following the road description we had received. Even though we arrived late in the night, Christina, the very friendly owner, led the way to the hut in her car. The moment we stepped out, we knew we had made the right choice: complete silence, except for the sound of a nearby stream and utter darkness, except for the Milky Way sparkling.
The hut itself was simply lovely: an old Alpine herdsman / herds-woman hut, newly renovated, but decorated with much love for details in original furniture, with a kitchen and two bedrooms. No mountain chalet is complete without a wooden stove, of course, and also here the Mühlbacherhütte did not let us down. Thanks to Sam’s advanced fire making skills (I would have probably burnt the hut down) we had a delicious pasta for dinner. Excited by what the surrounding will look like in daylight, we went to sleep. And our expectations were not let down. The next morning we opened the front door and were speechless: a valley with a stream surrounded by lush meadows and majestic trees, dotted with cows and sheep. Paradise. The next days we spent exploring our surrounding, hiking, bonding with the animals, detoxing from social media and cooking in our little romantic hut. The moment in which I messaged Christina to arrange for our payment and we had to say goodbye to our small chalet arrived far too quickly.
On our car drive back to Vienna, Sam and I reflected on our stay. We, like many others, started planning our holiday with the prejudice that local and back to nature stays in Austria would be old-fashioned and inaccessible. Instead, we found the opposite to be true: they are refreshingly different and thanks to new players, such as Farmstays.com, super easy to arrange. Stay tuned for our next mountain adventure, because we will for sure be back on Farmstays soon!