Where to Stay, Eat, and Drink in Vail, Colorado

Celebs flock to this picturesque ski town for a reason. Here’s where to stay and what to do there.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After the coziness of the holidays wears off, most of us want to fast forward to spring. But in the right destination, that period between New Year's and the warm weather thaw can change your state of mind—in the quintessential ski town of Vail—where fresh air and fur fashions are abundant, winter always ends too soon. 

Just two hours north of Denver or a quick 30-minute drive from the Eagle-Vail airport, the area transports you to a quaint Bavarian-style village and is a luxe backdrop for winter fun. There's a reason it's a favorite amongst jet-setting celebs: it's one of the largest ski resorts in the U.S., with over 5,000 skiable acres for all levels and legendary back bowls stretching on for miles. But you don't have to ski or snowboard to maximize your stay in Vail. A growing culinary scene, great shopping, and a lively aprés ski culture are reason enough to plan a trip to the Rockies.

A pool in the mountains at FS Vail

(Image credit: FS)

Where to Stay text

(Image credit: Future)

There are a few premium areas to stay while in the area, near Vail Village or Lionshead. Staying close to Vail Village means you'll be within walking distance of great restaurants and shops and close to the central lifts. If you're looking to stay central, the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail has one of the best locations, just about a five-minute walk from Gondola One, and a fully-equipped ski concierge with lockers equipped with boot warmers and an endless array of beverages and snacks, meaning you can have the glorious advantage of waking up to your skis already in the snow, grab a coffee inside, and head out for a day on the mountain. True to its location, the hotel is alpine-inspired, with modern finishes, roaring fireplaces, cozy sitting areas, and a fantastic onsite spa and heated outdoor pool to dip in—no matter the outside temperature. It also offers a fun see-and-be-seen all-day aprés scene at The Remedy Bar with panoramic mountain views and year-round firepits. 

In Lionshead Village, the Hythe Vail is a great new contemporary option within walking distance of the Eagle-Bahn Gondola that will take you directly into Vail. A True North shop attached to the hotel makes rentals super convenient and offers storage for your boots after a day on the slopes. If you’re exhausted from a day on the mountain, kick back with s'mores or a drink by the fire pit on the aprés deck.

outdoor scene in the mountains

(Image credit: FS)

what to do

(Image credit: Future)

Skiing and snowboarding are obvious choices in the area, with 195 trails and Vail's iconic back bowls stretching on for miles. Suppose you don't have much experience but want to hone your skills. Consider a group or private lesson that will boost your confidence and offer a scenic way to see the area. You'll be in good hands with Vail resort instructors renowned for their patience and terrain knowledge.

If winter sports are not in the cards, head into town and browse the fashions at Loro Piana, Moncler, or Fusalp, or pick up that Perfect Moment puffer you've been eyeing at Gorsuch.

Some downtime at the spa is also a great way to spend the afternoon—whether or not you hit the slopes. How about a high-altitude adjustment massage that will get you feeling right again? (Did we mention Vail's base is an altitude of 8,150 feet?). Soak in the jacuzzi, test your willpower in the cold plunge, and spend some time in the steam room and sauna.

where to eat and drink

(Image credit: Future)

Five Vail Valley restaurants have earned recognition from the Michelin Guide in the past year or so. It's a growing culinary destination and is gaining recognition from food lovers who know their way around eating in cities like Chicago and New York. Sweet Basil is one of those restaurants. Initially opened in 1977, the chef highlights inventive New American cuisine—like homemade ravioli with egg jam and guanciale and salmon with crispy maitake mushrooms and salmon roe. It's a must-try destination for any discerning foodie. Mountain Standard, Sweet Basil's sister restaurant, is also a place to add to the list, offering rustic mountain-inspired dishes with an elevated twist. Think wood-fired leg of lamb and rotisserie chicken.

There are growing options in the area for sushi lovers. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa's eponymous Japanese restaurant Matsuhisa is wildly popular, and the newly opened Makoto from Chef Makoto Okuwa has become an instant favorite among visitors and locals.

If a good old-fashioned steak is what you're craving, make a reservation at Flame Restaurant and order the ranch Wagyu ribeye, a Ceasar salad, and some fresh-cut truffle fries. Many come for the skiing, but coming for the food isn't a bad idea either.

Sara Holzman
Style Director

Sara Holzman is the Style Director for Marie Claire, where she's worked alongside the publication for eight years in various roles, ensuring the brand's fashion content continues to inform, inspire, and shape the conversation about fashion's ever-evolving landscape. With a degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, Sara is responsible for overseeing a diverse fashion content mix, from emerging and legacy designer profiles to reported features on the influence of social media on style and seasonal and micro trends across the world's fashion epicenters in New York, Milan, and Paris. Before joining Marie Claire, Sara held fashion roles at Conde Nast's Lucky Magazine and Self Magazine and was a style and travel contributor to Equinox's Furthermore website. Over her decade of experience in the fashion industry, Sara has helped guide each brand's style point of view, working alongside veteran photographers and stylists to bring editorial and celebrity photo shoots to fruition from start to finish. Sara currently lives in New York City. When she's not penning about fashion or travel, she’s at the farmer’s market, on a run, working to perfect her roasted chicken recipe, or spending time with her husband, dog, and cat. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork