Aspen may be a touch glitzier, but Vail is nonetheless one of the most luxe resort towns in the Rockies. It's also one of the most popular ski destinations in the U.S. Vail Mountain soars nearly 3,500 feet above its base, and its slopes offer some of the best intermediate and advanced trails around. Once the snow melts, hiking trails through alpine fields and aspen forests offer spectacular views, wild flowers, and glimpses of wildlife, and the area's rivers and streams become hot spots for tubing, rafting, and fishing.
Vail's picturesque villages -- Lionshead, West Vail, and, the most iconic, Vail Village -- are packed with mountain-lodge-style hotels and resorts, but which cozy property is the right one for you? We've identified the best of the bunch to help you narrow down your options. Take a look at our picks for Vail's top lodges -- you'll see more ski valets, stone fireplaces, and wood-beam ceilings than you can shake a ski at.
Blending seamlessly into Vail's Bavarian-chalet-style architecture, Sonnenalp's shingled rooftops, wooden balconies, and striped shuttered windows seem like they were pulled straight from a German or Austrian ski town. The 127 rooms and suites continue the Bavarian theme, with wooden beams crisscrossing the ceilings, wood-paneled accent walls, and heavy oak furniture. Each room has a private balcony overlooking Vail Village, as well as a mini-fridge, safe, and flat-screen TV. The hotel's lounge features live music every weekend in the winter and summer seasons, and mostly draws older revelers not afraid to make requests and dance along. The casual Bully Ranch serves German-American pub fare and several German drafts, while the wood-heavy Swiss Chalet is the only restaurant in town dedicated to fondue. The hotel is known for its spa, which has indoor and outdoor pools, a hot tub, oxygen bar, fitness center, and yoga/Pilates studio. In the winter, a ski valet service is offered, so guests don't have to walk to the slopes in their ski boots. Parking is valet-only and subject to a fee.
Tivoli Lodge is a warm and rustic family-run ski lodge, just a brief walk from both the ski lifts and the heart of Vail Village. Its beautiful lobby is classy and comfortable, with natural-stone pillars and walls, slate floors, and brown leather sofas and armchairs in front of a huge stone fireplace. Floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors maximize the amazing views of the surrounding mountain landscape. Tivoli's 64 rooms are spacious and come equipped with kitchenettes and elegant marble bathrooms, some of which feature separate tubs and walk-in showers. Facility highlights include a popular bar that serves a breakfast buffet (for a fee), free ski valet and storage services, a fitness center, and outdoor whirlpools. Rates are competitive, and, as such, it often sells out in peak season.
Manor Vail Lodge
Manor Vail Lodge has the ambience of a romantic Alpine ski lodge, with views of skier-studded slopes from room balconies and common areas, including a deck with firepit. The vibe is low-key, with plenty of extra touches -- like free apres-ski hot chocolate and cookies in the wood-and-stone lobby -- that give the lodge a cozy, upscale feel. Although Manor Vail Lodge is a condo resort, it is just as much a ski lodge, with all the amenities and conveniences of such -- two heated outdoor pools, four hot tubs, a spa, fitness center, and event facilities. The resort's restaurant and bar, The Fitz, is furnished with comfy sofas clustered around fireplaces, as well as rustic wood tables, leather seating, and vintage ski photographs. The 125 rooms range in size from studios to one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites, each with full kitchens, living areas with fireplaces, and private balconies, though the units are individually owned so decor varies and some might be a bit dated.
The Sebastian - Vail
This modern hideout is a beautiful twist on the traditional Colorado mountain hotel. The big, airy lobby has stone walls, a barrel ceiling with wood beams, and a sleek black fireplace. One of the best features here is the slope-side Base Camp, with gear rental, boot warmers, and a cafe that serves hot chocolate. An attractive outdoor pool with a waterfall and four hot tubs is open year-round. The hotel's bistro serves wine and tapas made with organic, locally sourced ingredients, and its lobby lounge offers more than 30 different types of Scotch whisky, local beer, and light fare such as lamb skewers and Spanish cheeses. Overall, the lower-level room categories are on the small side for the area, but many rooms were updated in 2014. All rooms have flat-screen TVs, DVD players, iHome alarm clocks, and plush bathrobes. Nightly turndown service includes a dessert made in-house. The Sebastian's one-, two-, and three-bedroom Residences come with full kitchens, living rooms, gas fireplaces, washer/dryers, and pull-out sofas.
The Arrabelle at Vail Square, a RockResort
The Arrabelle at Vail Square is designed to feel like its own little town in Old World Europe, with towering grand-lodge architecture, upscale decor, ornate details, and an open square with shops and an ice-skating rink in the center. A huge stone fireplace and cast-iron chandelier give the inviting lobby (where cookies and hot chocolate are served) a classic European chalet feel, while large arching windows and stone- and woodwork anchor the luxury lodge decor. The apres-ski scene is thriving here, with a spacious outdoor patio and cozy tavern for snacks, cocktails, and full meals. The 10,000-square-foot spa complex and rooftop pool and hot tubs offer more scenic spots to relax (and take in the amazing views). With an average of 550 square feet, the 81 luxe rooms offer some of the most square footage in Vail Valley. All feature plush furnishings, large fireplaces, and massive marble bathrooms with heated floors and deep soaking tubs. A ski valet at the base of Eagle Bahn Gondola is available in the winter to store skis and warm boots.
Vail Mountain Lodge
The upscale, 27-room Vail Mountain Lodge is located in a serene spot in Vail Village, next to Gore Creek and close to the Bahn ski lift. The location is within walking distance of everything in town, including Vail Mountain, but it feels a bit more secluded than some of the other resorts. Its rooms, outfitted in understated mountain decor, have nice extras -- namely, down bedding, gas fireplaces, and deep soaking tubs. Vail Vitality Center, the full-service fitness center and spa, was renovated in 2016 and is one of the best facilities of its kind in Vail Valley. Guests get free access to the gym during their stay, including its multi-story climbing wall and fitness classes, like Zumba, yoga, and aerobics. The on-site Terra Bistro is a local favorite offering fresh, organic and sustainable food. The best perk: a free breakfast with any overnight stay. Vail Mountain Lodge doesn't have an on-site pool (though it provides transportation to an off-site pool), but it does have several hot tubs located inside and out -- including ones picturesquely set by the creek.
Austria Haus Hotel
In a historic, Austrian-style building in the center of Vail Village, Austria Haus Hotel feels like a blend of a mountain lodge, craftsman-style home, and rustic Spanish villa. Its stucco walls, tile floors, and arched doorways point to the European influence, while the leather chairs, wood-burning fireplaces, and dark-wood accents remind you that you're in the mountains in Vail. Austria Haus Hotel's 25 homey rooms have rustic touches (such as wood-beam ceilings and sturdy wood doors) and marble bathrooms with heated floors. On-site amenities include a cozy lounge, fitness center, and small pool and attached whirlpool, plus guests get free access to the facilities at sister property The Lodge at Vail, which is a short walk away.
Sitzmark Lodge at Vail
The Sitzmark Lodge at Vail is a warm and laid-back Vail institution. For decades, the boutique, family-friendly ski resort has been owned and operated by the Fritch family, who live on the premises. They hold weekly wine receptions in their apartment, so that guests can meet and greet. That friendly atmosphere is found throughout, with coffee, tea, and cider available for the taking in the lobby. Guests can read a book by the hearth or drink apres-ski cocktails in the bar and lounge. The Sitzmark's heated outdoor pool and hot tub are open year-round, and there are lounge chairs on the sundeck for taking in the view. The fitness center is tiny, but the hotel provides free ski storage and loaner bikes. In the evenings, the Left Bank Restaurant serves a French and American menu in a sophisticated, but not overly formal, dining room with a large wine cellar. The 35 rooms have private balconies overlooking either the mountains or Gore Creek. (Creek views are gorgeous in the summertime.) Though they're homey, rooms lack quirky Colorado charm. They also lack AC, but do have fans.
The Lodge at Vail, A RockResort
The Lodge at Vail is one of the most historic resorts in Vail Valley, with an alpine-lodge-style exterior and rustic flair, fireplaces, and high ceilings inside. After years of needing some TLC, the property has regained its luxury status. It successfully upgraded the full-service spa and fitness center (which includes a yoga room and is, along with the spa, now among the property's most impressive amenities), and renovated a bulk of its rooms in 2014. Many rooms have large balconies that face either the pool and outdoor terrace, or the ski slopes. Others have stone fireplaces. The Lodge offers a ski valet, shuttles, meeting and special-event facilities, and two restaurants: Cucina, a Vail staple with farm-to-table American cuisine (the Sunday brunch buffet is a highlight), and Elway's, which serves steaks and seafood for dinner.
Marriott's StreamSide Birch at Vail
In a beautiful secluded setting west of Vail proper, the Marriott StreamSide offers upper-middle-range condo rentals with full kitchens, fireplaces, and homey mountain decor. The indoor/outdoor pool is uncommon in Vail, where most pools are outdoors, and the hotel prides itself on its free extras (free Wi-Fi, free parking, and no resort fee). But it's right next to the interstate, and you'll have to take the hotel shuttle to the slopes.
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