The holidays are here and we are Vail-bound. We have our fingers crossed for some of the legendary powder days we’ve come to expect from Colorado’s largest ski resort. From the Back Bowls to Blue Sky Basin, there are over 5,317 acres of skiable terrain — enough to merit some bubbly at one of our favorite après-ski destinations. Here’s our insider guide to where to stay plus everything you’ll want to eat, see and do in Vail.
Where to Stay in Vail
Solaris: Just 400 meters from Gondola One, this Vail Village mainstay is a luxurious way to live like a local during your visit to the mountain. We love the sweet touches like hot chocolate and cookies waiting for you after a day on the slopes. The onsite restaurant is Japanese hotspot Matsuhisa, so you won’t need to go far for an outstanding meal. Each apartment comes with its own fireplace and fully equipped kitchen, so staying in is always a cozy option as well.
Sonnenalp: Like Solaris, it’s hard to get more centrally located than Sonnenalp. With 15 intimate hotel rooms available and 112 expansive luxury suites for larger groups, there are options for everyone. The property is all wood, with soft green accents, gas-log fireplaces and custom-made Bavarian furniture in every room — but the highlight are the mountain views. As for food, there’s nearly too many on-site dining options to list: Our favorites include a Swiss Chalet experience for all your fondue needs, plus Bully Ranch for happy hour and Harvest Restaurant & Bar for views over Vail Valley.
Hotel Gramhammer: Home to local après-ski watering hole Pepi’s, the hotel is a stone’s throw from Gondola One and feels like visiting your close friend’s charming Austrian grandparents’ house. The rooms include wooden armoires and headboards as well as floral-patterned drapes, with jaw-dropping views over the mountain or village from every room.
What to Do in Vail
Ski or snowboard: While Vail Village itself is immensely charming, the main draw to the area is the mountain itself. Vail is home to 195 trails and 31 chairlifts, with over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain on just the back bowls alone.
Snowshoe: If you’re looking to switch it up after a few days of skiing, consider a snowshoe tour, which offers another vantage point of this gorgeous spot. There are all sorts of options on offer, from free educational tours that focus on the local ecology to tours designed to get your heart racing.
Snowmobile: An adventurous way to take in unparalleled views of the backcountry, it’s important to go with experienced guides like Vail Back Country Tours.
Where to Eat in Vail
Sweet Basil: A classic that always hits the spot. Upscale but without feeling fussy, Sweet Basil has been serving locals and visitors alike since 1977 and is our go-to for modern American cuisine in a trendy dining room. They’ve got everything from hamachi crudo with coconut froth to Colorado lamb T-bones with a lemon labneh that you’ll salivate over, and the friendly bar never disappoints for a drink.
Mountain Standard: Opened in 2012 by the Sweet Basil creators, this rustic, laid-back tavern is all about cooking over an open flame, rotisserie-roasting everything from chicken to fruits. Wood-roasted bone marrow and genre-defining wedge salads stand out on their classic menu, which consists of just about anything you could possibly crave after a day on the mountain.
Matsuhisa: You can’t go wrong with treating yourself to a night at celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s namesake restaurant. The upscale Japanese sushi spot is a see-and-be-seen destination, and you’ll be dreaming about the famous black cod with miso the entire next day on the chair lift.
Where to Après-ski in Vail
Pepi’s: Nestled into Hotel Gramhammer, Pepi’s is a Vail institution. Laid-back with live entertainment, this Austrian bar was a former hotspot for celebrities including Sophia Loren, Cary Grant. Today it is a go-to for apres ski.
Remedy Bar at Four Seasons: Decked out in modern, muted tones, this is the perfect place to cozy up by the fire while sipping one of their inventive craft cocktails and nibbling on locally-sourced fare. We love the floor-to-ceiling mountain views and firepit-studded deck.
Root & Flower: Root & Flower’s beautiful Bridge Street location is one of our favorites. They offer 50 wines by the glass as well as an extensive bottle list. If you’re not in the mood for wine, check out their lengthy bespoke cocktail list, with offerings like the “First Aid Kit,” a turmeric and ginger-based scotch.
Where to Shop in Vail
Tommy Bowers Ski: Ski shops abound in Vail, but Tommy Bowers goes beyond the typical Moncler puffers and heat-tech base layers. The boutique, tucked into centrally-located Solaris Plaza, is brimming with high-end performance pieces that are difficult to find outside of Europe: Think brands like Fusalp, Duvetica and E11. If you’re in the market for chic skiwear that you can't find anywhere else put this at the top of your list.