Ski trips don’t have to drain your bank account. After all, ski bums have existed for generations by sleeping on friends’ couches or in cars parked in the base-area lot. But let’s say you’d like a real bed. That’s not asking too much. And perhaps you’d prefer if that bed is closish to the hill, since that’s what you came to ski after all. Throw in a free hot breakfast and a place to stash your gear overnight and you’re one happy guest. What if we told you all of that was possible on a budget? Yep, you can stay a short jaunt from the lifts at world-class resorts for less than $100 a night, and you don’t even have to sleep on a couch. You just need to know where to look.
Mountain Chalet Aspen
The Mountain Chalet is like stepping back in time to old-school Aspen, before Gucci and Prada set up shop. This European-style hotel has been around since 1954, shortly after a skier named Ralph Melville moved to town and bought a plot of land on the corner of Mill Street and Durant Avenue for $2,000 in 1953. You can’t beat the location: it’s less than two blocks from the gondola at Aspen Mountain. Ralph isn’t with us anymore, but his family still runs the place, and his wife, Marian, shows up each day for breakfast. They like to keep lodging affordable, just like it used to be. Regular hotel rooms start at $204 a night, but if you don’t mind sharing your space, you can get a bunk starting at $79, and that includes a free breakfast spread of pancakes and eggs Benedict, as well as mulled wine at après-ski.
The Mammoth Inn
Mammoth Lakes, California
Bed-and-breakfasts can sometimes feel pretentious. The fuss-free, eight-room Mammoth Inn, located downtown and recently renovated, is decidedly not. It’s simple and modern, and convenience is key: from the house, you can walk to the village and catch a gondola to the slopes at Mammoth Mountain. Like all good B&Bs, breakfast comes included in your stay—pastries, juice, and coffee are provided in your room. There’s a boot-drying zone and a place to store your skis near the entrance. The best part? Rooms start at $95 a night.
Elk Refuge Inn
Where the town of Jackson ends, the National Elk Refuge begins. The six-mile-wide wilderness expanse is a critical habitat for elk, bison, and other wild animals, and right on its edge sits the 25-room Elk Refuge Inn, a modest motel with extraordinary views. Located two miles north of the town of Jackson and about 25 minutes from the tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, rooms start at $92 a night in the winter and come with everything you need.
Revelstoke, British Columbia
The Cube Hotel (from $71), ten minutes from the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort, bills itself as a place that’s as affordable as a hostel but as private as a hotel. How does it do that? Tiny rooms. You’ll get a bathroom in the room, but you’ll need to walk down the hall for a shower. What do you need in square footage when all you’re doing is sleeping after a big day in the mountains? Plus, there’s plenty of communal space—a shared kitchen and a lounge stocked with board games—if you need to spread out. A breakfast of waffles and bagels comes included.
Hotel Ruby Ponderay
Located at the base of the access road to the Schweitzer ski resort, nine miles away, Hotel Ruby Ponderay shines in its amenities: free continental breakfast, a heated pool and two hot tubs, a secure ski room to let your gear dry out, and free transportation to and from the closest airport (in Spokane, Washington), all included in your rate. Rooms are well appointed, and some come with fireplaces. Prices start at $111 a night, but if you book this fall for a room for this winter, you can score the fall special, which starts at $95 a night.
South Lake Tahoe, California
Near the California-Nevada border and within walking distance to the gondola at Heavenly Ski Resort, you’ll find the decidedly cool Basecamp Hotel (from $89). This is the kind of place where an Airstream out back is home to one of the town’s most popular outdoor après-ski beer gardens, with craft offerings on tap from South of North Brewing Company. Coffee and to-go breakfasts are served in the lobby, and come dusk, you’ll find s’mores fixings for the outdoor fire pits. Basecamp can host a variety of group sizes, thanks to everything from family rooms with bunks to a camping room with a tent over the bed.
Conway, New Hampshire
With pricy lodging throughout the White Mountains, the new ten-room Conway Hostel, or the CoHo, aims to provide affordable overnight accommodation for adventurous types. It’s located less than 15 minutes from skiing at Cranmore Mountain Resort, and Attitash and Wildcat aren’t far, either. Due to COVID, the property is currently only renting private rooms, each with three sets of bunk beds, so you can sleep six people to a room—and for a mere $89 a night. Proof of vaccination is required for all guests. Shared spaces include communal bathrooms, a living area, and a kitchen.
Old Town Inn
Crested Butte, Colorado
Prices at the downtown, 33-room Old Town Inn are affordable, but the level of hospitality feels full-on luxury. You’ll get a generous breakfast spread—featuring local Camp 4 coffee, eggs, oatmeal, fruit, and bagels—as well as home-baked cookies each afternoon. Borrow a sled or snowshoes on-site, enjoy the outdoor hot tub, or hop on the free shuttle to Crested Butte Mountain Resort, less than ten minutes away, just down the block. The inn even offers a place to store your skis overnight at the base of the resort, so you don’t have to lug them back and forth on the bus. Rooms for the low season start at $99 if you have AAA or $109 if you don’t.
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