The Dolomites are dotted with cosy cabins to welcome skiers in from the cold. Known as rifugios, these wooden lodges are stooped in history, providing overnight shelters for passing mountaineers and excursionists. Some are scattered along backcountry routes like The Great War Tour while others boast outdoor hot tubs or amazing traditional cuisine.
All of them, however, offer a front-row seat to some of the most staggeringly beautiful alpine views on the planet. After a long day’s ski, the mountain huts are the best place to bask in the famous Dolomite Enrosadira – when the limestone rocks turn a warm, glowing pink that slowly turns violet as sunset falls across the white hills.
From wonderful family-run shelters to glitzy gourmet feasts, Mabey Ski takes a look at some of the Dolomites’ best rifugios.
Refugio Floralpina, run by the De Pellegrini family, sits at 1860m in a snowy bowl, surrounded by trees and pretty peaks. On its doorstep is an endless choice of touring paths, suitable for all levels and mostly well-trodden during the winter season. The lodge also has a snow tube trail so you can rent a rubber ring and fly down the hill in the pink twilight.
Inside, skiers will find 18 snug rooms from doubles to four beds. Each room has a small terrace that boasts panoramic views of the Dolomites. The restaurant offers indulgent dinners with typical Italian alpine cuisine, like potato gnocchi with smoked ricotta, casunziei, canederli and homemade desserts.
Rifugio Citta di Fiume
Converted from a cowshed in 1964, the Rifugio Citta di Fiume is a ski shelter built from local stone and wood, decorated with wonderful red window shutters. Skiers can approach from several directions, through the Gaiu Pass, Staulanza PassVal Fiorentina path or the Borca di Cadore/Serdes path. The hut is also 1.9 km from the summit of Monte Pelmo and 18 km from the Trampolino Olimpico ski jump.
In winter, this rustic hike-in lodge sleeps 20 people in dormitories and guests must bring their own sheets or sleeping bags. The restaurant offers warm bowls of Italian cuisine and guests have repeatedly praised the welcoming friendly atmosphere and staff.
Just on the shoulder of the San Pellegrino pass is a delightful little mountain inn called Rifugio Fuciade. The building was an alpine pasture for centuries before the old barn was converted into a mountain refuge in the sixties.
The chalet accommodates just 20 guests so it’s definitely a good pick for those wanting a tranquil night’s sleep overlooking the Pale di San Martino peaks and the Col Margherita. But the restaurant alone is worth the hike, replenishing weary skiers with traditional Ladin flavours from Chef Martino followed by a rich breakfast buffet filled with local products and home-made patisserie sweets. The family will even come and pick you up with their snowcats and snowmobiles.
Rifugio Averau is tucked under the rocky spears of the spectacular Averau peak. Skiers relax with overwhelmingly beautiful vistas of the Five Torri, Passo Giau and Passo Falzarego.
Renovated in 2010, the lodge sleeps 40 and the rooms are decorated with wood in the region’s authentic style. However, the cuisine is where Rifugio Averau really soars. The staff take painstaking care over their hospitality and the restaurant has garnered prestigious Italian and international certificates. It’s filled with the aroma of Margot’s ground coffee and Sandrone’s freshly baked cakes. As Paola prepares to light the fire, Matteo sets our down to the valley for fresh ingredients.
The Rifugio Sennes is located at 2126m in the breathtaking Fanes-Senes-Braies National Park. Of course, it too has staggering stunning views with a wide panorama of peaks like Croda Rossa, Sorapis and Tofana.
The cosy refuge opened in the 1940s and has been welcoming guests all year round ever since. Erich and Cilla Palfrida have run the 60-bed place for years. It is the perfect pitstop for ski-tourers in one of the world’s best backcountry areas. Both easy and difficult routes lead to the hut as well as the incredible ascent via the Kleine Gaisl and the southern flank of the Rote Wand. Once inside, guests can enjoy Tyrolese specialities and the signature “Sennes noodles” in the restaurant.
Albergo Alpino Passo Giau
The Albergo Alpino Passo Giau is one of the highest and most remote rifugios in the Dolomites. It sits at 2236ft over the majestic Giau mountain pass.
The lodge was first built in 1938 and has been run by the Valleferro family for nearly 40 years. Ten cosy double rooms are decked out in the traditional wooden Ampezzan style. Yet the hotel’s best feature might be its panoramic balcony that offers nearly 360° views of the famous surrounding peaks like Tofane, Croda Rossa and Cristallo.
Straddling the Cortina and Val Badia Ski areas, Rifugio Lagazuoi offers the ideal haven to spend the night along the Great War ski tour. Skiers climb up to the Lagazuoi through the War Tunner, the Kaiserjaeger Trail or along the Alpini and Tommaselli Vie Ferrate.
A mixture of dormitories and bedrooms furnished with traditional wood greets the mountaineers who can also relax on the scenic terrace. But the family-rum rifugio’s best feature has to be the Finnish sauna. Guests can warm their tired muscles surrounded by the scene of balsamic oils and watch the sun go down through its windows.
Rifugio De Dòo
Sitting by Mount Zovo in the municipality San Nicolo Comelico, is a refuge called De Dòo – a completely eco-sustainable mountain lodge. The rifugio was built using local wood using renewable energies, like solar panels, wood boiler and a rainwater recovery system. The restaurant has a menu of Italian dishes all made with locally sourced ingredients.
De Dòo, which in the Ladin language means “Di Zovo”, welcomes guests all year round. All the rooms – doubles or bunk beds – have a large outdoor terrace where guests can admire the stunning vista view or sit under magnificent starry skies at night.