/ What makes or breaks a club hut?
I'm trying to get a few ideas about how to improve our club hut and get some more people using it.
So the question is; what in your opinion would make or break the deal if you were looking for somewhere to stay for a climbing/hillwalking trip?
I'm thinking about the things we could potentially change rather than location as it would be pretty difficult to pick up and move the hut closer to the mountains.
Any suggestions welcome,
As someone who is meets sec for a club and books the huts for us to use I'm afraid it really is all about location.
Where is your hut?
I don’t actually use our (Fylde Mountaineering Club) huts much, but positive feedback we get includes :
Good mattresses and pillows
Decent drying room with dehumidifier
Clean, tidy and well maintained.
We have just pre-emptively replaced the roof & insulation on our larger hut at Stair, Newlands Valley at significant cost. This has apparently made a big difference to the speed the hut warms up when people arrive and should reduce our energy costs.
Ease of booking/use/payment - electronic booking, a single fob for multiple huts and payments by DDs instead of cheque are some of the things I really like about using the CC huts
A decently stocked kitchen
Hot showers in a non-freezing bathroom
Space to camp outside if you want to use the facilities but don't want to share with a snorer
> Ease of booking/use/payment - electronic booking, a single fob for multiple huts and payments by DDs instead of cheque are some of the things I really like about using the CC huts
> A decently stocked kitchen
> Hot showers in a non-freezing bathroom
> Space to camp outside if you want to use the facilities but don't want to share with a snorer
Plus one on the space to camp, I always camp outside a hut I go to, it's a blessed escape from listening to snoring. Coded entry being added to a hut I go to have proven handy, rather than putting the key behind a stone.
Some comfy chairs/arm chairs scattered about can be nice, and a pile of magazines, and cubbyholes to store belongings in.
And camping space - so the snorers can sleep outside
Woodburner with comfy seating around it
Pint glasses & at least one bottle opener in the cupboards.
For convenience, ample parking and a decent drying room.
For the basis of a good trip away, I'm afraid nothing tops location.
Other stuff I would just "expect" includes clean tidy kitchen with enough equipment, cooking and storage facilities etc for the number of beds etc; lounge area with good fire / stove.
Cork screw, garlic press and cafetiere.
On the more serious side, just make the basics perfect. Comfy beds, decent drying room and warm shower. Get those right and people with adapt to anything else.
Ok, thanks for the feedback, keep it coming.
Regarding location, we're in deiniolen, just down the road from the slate quarries. So good for sport but a little bit of a drive to the mountain crags.
We have a pretty good drying room.
The heating system is good for the most and we recently did some work to warm the kitchen up a bit.
There are 2 showers and 2 toilets all in separate rooms (for 18 people). Does this seem adequate? This could be difficult to increase because of space but maybe we could fit another shower.
The idea about camping outside is an interesting one which we could explore.
We have recently simplified and updated the booking and lock system to use a electronic code lock.
The one place I feel we may be falling down is in the dormatories, we have 2 dorms (one 12 bed and one 6 bed) with 3 up 3 down Tyrolean style bunks. Would this put people off?
Edit. And judj to add that we do have a few cork screws and bottle openers.
Most huts today are a real bargain and guests' expectations have risen considerably over the past 40 years, eg almost all huts have showers. It might be worth offering parties the option of paying extra for a local to pop in and clean floors, kitchen (and check windows etc shut). £50 between 12 is about £4 per head. This would mean less hassle for visitors and more climbing time especially on winter Sundays. Also cleaner huts and more certainty about security for owning club. Many flat and caravan rentals plus YHA have gone down a similar route.
Signed: southern softy (increasingly so).
Some photos on the website always help as people tend to pick the known option over something risky.
If this is the SWMC hut then the website still talks about posting keys. Also the text comes across as rather strict. I am sure this is not intentional but it does not give the impression of being terribly welcoming.
I think I know the hut you're talking about from the description. The main draw back when I used it was getting a key at short notice, and being able to pay if you didn t use a cheque book. But sounds like that has been sorted. Only other thing was a bit of sound insulation between upstairs and downstairs would've been good.
Thanks for your input. It is the SWMC hut, Lletty Llwyd, that I'm talking about.
I'm glad to hear that we've been spending our time and money in the right place by changing the lock system and sorting out the electronic payments.
A lot has been done to the hut recently, our new hut manager Allen (not me, although i have helped out a bit) has been putting in a got of hard work.
We also have a new coms person who's going to try to sort out the website and update all the details and photos.
Regarding the sound insulation issue, I've noticed myself that people going to the toilet and flushing late at night can be enough to wake people above, I guess we could try to sort out some sort of carpet for the upstairs. I'll scope this out.
Personally I think the hut is great. I've paid a lot more to stay in a lot worse. The only issue I have is getting time off work to get up there more.
> Location is important, but equally this:
OOOOOh! that would be enough to scare people away.
A log burner was mentioned above, and it would be really nice i'm sure, but we priced it up and we'd be looking at £3,000 to put one in and I don't think we have that sort of spare cash at the moment.
I really like quirky huts, but any hut should be clean*, in good repair, dry, with decent beds (I tend to bring my own pillow anyway), hot showers, at least 2 toilets and a decently stocked kitchen.
* I'll accept cobwebs, as you can't really keep spiders out of a hut that's not in constant use, but really no vermin/evidence of vermin.
Apart from other items previously listed;
A number of smaller rooms, rather than 1 or 2 great big ones, and good sound insulation between them.
Whilst snorers are well known to make it difficult for others to sleep, there is also the early to bed brigade who insist on going to bed by 8pm. (Complaining beforehand about anyone going to bed afterwards waking them up, as well as expecting anyone else in the building to make no noise whatsoever) who then wake at 5am and proceed to stomp around both the sleeping room and kitchen etc. making as much noise as an old-fashioned dustman with metal bins.
> Woodburner with comfy seating around it
Thats an interesting comment. The Lancs Mountaineering have built a brand new hut. They have put in under floor heating and all electric, no woodburners.
The theory being that you can walk in and its warm and at the flick of a switch its good to go.
No lighting fires or messing about.
On departure, a flick of a switch, lock up and away you go.
No cleaning fires.
My gut tells me I like a woodburner, but if you are going to a hut to climb, bike, walk or run, underfloor is the way ahead.
If to sit and chat and have a weekend break, woodburners are the way ahead.
Other than that, its Location, Location, Location.
In addition to previous answers:
More than one sharp knife that is actually sharp!
If you want more people to use your hut, stop calling it a hut.
People laugh at me when I say this, but there are loads of people who want budget outdoor accomodation, maybe bird watchers, MTBers, Runners whatever, and when you say hut, to many of them, they think of a garden shed.
Admittedly I often had the same complaints as you. However its easy to subtly alter your paragraph for the alternative viewpoint:
.... there is also the late to bed brigade who insist on going to bed after 12. (Complaining beforehand about anyone going to bed earlier for expecting them not to crash around getting into bed) who then wake at 10am and proceed to waste the first part of the climbing day and have missed tidying up.
Thankfully your suggestion of smaller rooms is useful in both cases.
Toilets and running water are good in a hut.
Some from of heating also - open fire/log burner preferred for evening chats
Ability to use all beds if booked (not having to leave beds empty for host club members who invariably never show up)
Working kitchen (cooking facilities that actually work) - and a grill facility, not everyone wants to cremate things in frying pan
Drying room that has heating that works in it - not just a store cupboard classed as drying room
Just some basics really.
A Swedish sauna and a good supply of (mucky) magazines.
> A Swedish sauna and a good supply of (mucky) magazines.
We could put a chair in the drying room for you and supply you with a few old copies of climber or rock and ice. Does that work?
> Ability to use all beds if booked (not having to leave beds empty for host club members who invariably never show up)
This is something we've been debating for a while. I like the idea of having a place to go without needing to book ahead but then if we are going to make the place work and pay for itself a lot of groups want to whole place. I know when I was in a uni society we wouldn't have dreamt of going somewhere if we couldn't book the whole place or at least have a substantially isolated section of it.
A lot of groups would like an entire hut. However the primary purpose of your hut is to provide accommodation so its members can climb etc. The groups using it are just an inconvenient but necessary way to pay for it....I really appreciated the ability to turn up whenever I wanted when I was in a graduate club with a hut. Having a few members of your own club around may also limit excesses and damage..
Now I'm glad to be in a club which doesn't own a hut so there is no time wasted on its admin and maintenance. Many thanks to those who are willing to do this.
Most people will find it via Google so text & photos need to be welcoming and attractive even if terms & conditions don't change. Website mentions posting keys.
Some interior photos and nearby exterior photos and not the photo showing the dustbin!
You're using wordpress so there will be ways of showing live availability info.
If you can't get quick response to booking enquiry they'll go somewhere else.
Forgot to mention, plenty of flat parking for camper vans as well as tents.
I have seen caravans at huts recently, there may be a demand for electric hook ups soon
Charging points for electric cars might be a selling point.
> I have seen caravans at huts recently, there may be a demand for electric hook ups soon
With LED lighting and everything else (tablets etc) running off batteries or charging off low-voltage, will demand for electric hookups not *reduce*?
Triple bunks are a pain! As is falling off the top one.
Apart from previous comments, put LOTS of hooks in the shower room(s), amazing how many places have one or none.
I know what you mean, the website is very dry and authoritarian sounding at the moment and doesn't really sell the hut. It's also out of date, especially regarding the locks.
This will soon be sorted hopefully.
parking for cars and vans is a on the road unfortunately, you'd need a reasonably good 4x4 to get down to our hut.
> With LED lighting and everything else (tablets etc) running off batteries or charging off low-voltage, will demand for electric hookups not *reduce*?
People I know with vans and hookups use the electric for heating and cooking to preserve their gas so lighting and gadgets is only a tiny part of the equation.
As far as USB stuff in the hut we have recently installed loads of USB charging points.
> Triple bunks are a pain! As is falling off the top one.
This is my opinion too, it's very difficult to get in or out of a middle space without disturbing the other sleepers. I have ideas of how to sort this but need to get them past the rest of the committee first.
As a former meets sec, the big things that made a difference for me (apart from location) were basically things that made it painless for me to book and organise the trip. Particularly:
* ability to check availability online
* ability to book online / over email and pay by bank transfer
* reasonably flexible bookings, ie some ability to reserve an optimistic number of beds but only pay for as many as you use (within reason)
* not too in-your-face with the Ts&Cs
A code-based door lock is definitely nicer than faffing with a key, but seldom a deal breaker. A well appointed kitchen, good showers, a functional drying room, a cosy lounge, comfy beds and so-on might encourage us to come back if we had a good trip previously, but if I look at the "Our Hut" page on the website for the first time and think "oh god no" then I'm probably going to look somewhere else.
> This is something we've been debating for a while. I like the idea of having a place to go without needing to book ahead but then if we are going to make the place work and pay for itself a lot of groups want to whole place. I know when I was in a uni society we wouldn't have dreamt of going somewhere if we couldn't book the whole place or at least have a substantially isolated section of it.
I go to the Barrow Mountaineering and Ski Club hut near Coniston most years, and they have a partitioned off members hut upstairs which is isolated from the rest of the hut. Their way of making sure things are looked after seems to be making sure that only people who are members of other clubs book it, so there is a 'trail' to lead them back to the root of any trouble I guess.
Trying to avoid too much repetition of the above... Of the huts I've stayed in, some of the really good things that have stood out so far have been:
- Enough fridge space (if busy and self catered).
- Really good quality pots and pans, there is nothing worse than trying to wash up after a fry-up for 10 that was made in a pan still coated with crud from 1980.
- A chalk board at the end of each bed in the dorms, really helps if you need to wake your partner but cant remember exactly which bed they're in. Also helps in knowing which beds are taken or not. If you're near the quarries a piece of slate would be a nice touch!
- Dedicated shoe / boot racks with slippers (one size fits nobody type) to keep as much dirt out of the main living area as possible.
- Adequate and good quality cleaning supplies, plenty of bog roll, soap, washing up liquid etc. Could also include other consumables like light bulbs, bin bags etc.
- Enough power outlets.
> - Really good quality pots and pans, there is nothing worse than trying to wash up after a fry-up for 10 that was made in a pan still coated with crud from 1980.
Adding to this, pots and pans big enough for group meals. It's a pain having to cook pasta in 3 small saucepans!
> Admittedly I often had the same complaints as you. However its easy to subtly alter your paragraph for the alternative viewpoint:
> .... there is also the late to bed brigade who insist on going to bed after 12. (Complaining beforehand about anyone going to bed earlier for expecting them not to crash around getting into bed) who then wake at 10am and proceed to waste the first part of the climbing day and have missed tidying up.
> Thankfully your suggestion of smaller rooms is useful in both cases.
Does nobody know how to tip toe to bed at 2am, and stumble about picking the sleep from their eyes at half 8 the next day before only managing to form sentences at 10 am once outside after porridge and copious tea? ;-)
My friend seems to manage to sit and talk indefinitely after a few beers, and it always turns into the above if I go walking with her, the least anybody late to bed can do is tip toe...
> there is also the early to bed brigade who insist on going to bed by 8pm. (Complaining beforehand about anyone going to bed afterwards waking them up, as well as expecting anyone else in the building to make no noise whatsoever) who then wake at 5am and proceed to stomp around both the sleeping room and kitchen etc. making as much noise as an old-fashioned dustman with metal bins.
They're probably hill walkers and the sort of person that sets off early to nab all the free parking in the pass.
> Does nobody know how to tip toe to bed at 2am
Simples - wear socks instead of "hut shoes" or boots !
(Same goes for the early up brigade - amazing how many of them put their boots on and then apparently have to go back up stairs whilst wearing their hill boots and then into rooms full of people trying to sleep).
There's some 'virtuous noise' going on maybe. Some huts have a no boots in the sleeping/upstairs area rule.
Install a Faraday Cage around the hut.