Tatra mountains are the highest and most beautiful mountains in Poland. They're located in the south of Poland - we're lucky to have such amazing mountains at hand! The majority of Tatra mountains (including the highest peak Gerlach - 2654 metres) belong to Slovakia, but Poles have a lot of interesting hiking trails too . Those mountains are part of Polish natural heritage and are protected as National Park.
Tourist infrastructure is well-developed there: lots of mountain hostels, well-marked hiking trails, information boards, guide posts, benches - it all makes hiking in Tatra mountains a pleasurable experience.
During our recent backpacking trip in Tatra National Park we slept in 2 mountain huts: Hala Ornak and Polana Chochołowska.
What's worth mentioning is that the standard of Tatra mountain huts is better than in other Polish mountain ranges (but they're also more expensive). In comparison with Sudety or Beskidy, e.x. mountain hut on Wielka Racza , Tatra hostels offer very good standard.
I need to point out here that I'm not a person who would happily sleep in a tent for a week. Nor am I inclined to sleep on the floor with no access to shower.
The reason is quite simple: I spend my trips and holidays actively, so I need to get a good rest at night. Otherwise, I'd simply not enjoy my travels (and not be much fun to people who travel with me - I tend to get grumpy when I don't get enough sleep ). I need some comfort and I like sleeping in bed. Silence and darkness are my best companions at night. So, I may be fussy when it comes to sleeping somewhere for more than 1 night in a row.
Fortunately, I got far more sleep in these mountain huts than I'd expected.
Some additional quick facts about Polish Tatra mountains huts:
→ Tatra National Park is extremely popular among hikers and tourists, especially from June till September.
→ Not all mountain refuges will take you if there's no beds available . It's always good to book your bed/room in advance. If you don't have this option, at least check if they allow sleeping on the floor.
→ In high season in the most popular mountain huts there may not even be enough space to sleep on the floor.
→ Some of Tatra hostels offer the possibility to rent winter gear.
→ Mountain lodges in Poland are open all year round.
→ They will feed you alright.
→ Kitchen and reception are open from 8 AM until 9 PM.
→ There's no possibility to pay by card - cash only.
So let's begin with our experience:
1. Hala Ornak
The hut is located on 1108 metres. It may not be very high, but it's great spot - hala Ornak is perfect starting point for hikes in Western Tatras. There are several hiking trails leading to the hostel, including Koscieliska Valley (green trail) which is considered the most beautiful valley in Tatra National Park. The trail is wide and easy, perfectly safe even for families with baby carriage.
Hala Ornak lodge is rather small - it's accomodation capacity is 49 beds. I booked 2 beds in 3-person room a week in advance (it was May). I strongly advise to book your beds/room as soon as possible - Tatra mountains are very popular among hikers, especially in warm months.
Anyway, there were only two of us in the room, so no snorting or sleep-talk disturbed our night. The quiet hours are 10 PM - 6 AM. There were some brisk people who thought it's cool to listen to music after 10 PM, but I was so tired that I ignored the noise and fell asleep instantly.
The bedding is included in the accomodation fee however, if you're chilly person, you might want to take your own sleeping bag as the "duvet" available in Polish mountain huts are basically blankets in cover. Temperature at night drops significantly even in the summer, so it's good to have some fleece jumper at hand.
The sanitary facilities were OK - the bathroom was clean and spacious , but there's only one shower available for women. There's also drying room available. The Internet wasn't great but I didn't mind - I don't go to the mountains to surf the web .
Ornak mountain hut isn't connected to power grid - at nights the electricity comes from power generator.
The hut serves deliciuos food - potato pancakes and scrambled eggs were mouth-watering and definitely worth their price. I liked the fact that there's a lot of outdoor tables and benches near Ornak lodge where you can enjoy your food listening to forest sounds and admiring breathtaking view of Tatra mountains. Priceless experience.
rather noisy at the weekend
slow Internet connection
no electric socket in rooms.
2. Polana Chochołowska
This mountain lodge is located on 1146 metres at the end of Chochołowska valley. The trail leading along this beautiful valley is great for families with children and bikers - wide path and mild ascent make it perfectly safe to lively youngsters. However, fantastic landscapes and easy path attract loads of tourists, so it's best to hike this valley on week days.
This mountain hut is definitely more like a hotel. In fact, it's the biggest mountain hostel in Tatra National Park - its accomodation capacity is 121 guests. The good thing about it is that we managed to get 2-person bedroom. When I booked the beds one week in advance, I was informed that only 6-person room was available, but when we got there it turned out they had some spare doubles.
The showers are conveniently located on the same floor as rooms. Our room had wash basin which was very nice surprise.
The fact that the mountain lodge is located in the most popular and easily accessible valley makes it immensely popular among tourists (and less among hikers). Despite the fact we stayed in comfortable 2-person room, I didn't get so much sleep as I expected - the corridor was filled with excited cries coming from drunken tourists watching TV in guest room.
well equipped tourist kitchen.
very popular among tourists
there's TV but no Internet connection.
Phone: +48 18 20 705 10
Mobile phone: +48 660 144 510
Website: http://chocholowska.com/ - great website with actual price list provided, English version available too.
In both these mountain hostels there are 2-person bedrooms available, but you need to book well in advance to get one. Both lodges also provide bedding and boiling water free of charge. Kitchen is available to guests from 8 AM to 9 PM.
I personally liked Ornak hut more. It may not have been freshly refurbished and is rather small. But I like that - it's not that popular so the atmosphere in Hala Ornak hostel is hiker-friendly. There were no screaming children or drunk middle-aged tourists who thought it would be great to spend whole weekend in mountain hut just sitting around and sipping beer.
All in all, I liked the experience immensely and will definitely do this again, most probably in Slovak Tatra mountains . It's great feeling to wake up in the morning and see mountain forest and hear birds chirping merrily. And the fresh, sharp air fills with energy and excitement to start new hiking adventure.
There's also great atmosphere in Tatra mountain huts - staff and fellow hikers are friendly and you get to meet really interesting people there. And you don't need to wake up at 4 AM to hike your planned route - you have hiking trails a few metres from your bed .
Have you ever slept in mountain hut? Did you like it?