Overlooking view of ski resort town in Vail, Colorado

Where to Stay in Vail (Best Areas, Hotels, & Resorts)

When you’re researching where to stay in Vail, you’ll find yourself confronted with a lot of possibilities – there are lots of hotels in Vail! 

As a Colorado resident who loves visiting Vail Mountain, I can tell you that it helps to consider your budget and the type of experience you want to have when deciding where to stay in Vail.

In short, you’ll want to determine if you’d like to spend more on an all-inclusive hotel or condo, or save some money on the outskirts. So many gorgeous properties are within walking distance of Vail Ski Resort, but they cost a pretty penny. Booking in East or West Vail is cheaper and will give you a resident’s point of view.

Both choices have their charms, and with a gorgeous backdrop and plenty of things to do in Vail Valley, you really can’t go wrong.

Let’s take a closer look at your options!

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Best Places to Stay in Vail

View of pathway to The Arrabelle at Vail Square
(photo: Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock)

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Vail? Here are my top picks: 

Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best areas and neighborhoods in Vail: 

5 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Vail

Reminiscent of a Swiss Alpine Village, the central areas of Vail Village and Lionshead are home to luxury Vail resorts. These luxury properties come with amenities like spas, on-site restaurants, and valets to help with ski gear and other arrangements. Both of these areas also feature adorable cobblestone streets filled with shops, restaurants, ice skating, and other fun activities.

East and West Vail are farther from these villages, and you’ll need to drive or take Vail’s wonderful public transportation to get to the ski lifts. However, this also means there are cheaper lodging options as well as grocery stores where you can save on food. 

Vail Village

People in a small town village in Vail during winter
(photo: Margaret.Wiktor / Shutterstock)

👉 Best Area For Vintage Vail  | ✨ Best Vail Village Hotels: The SonnenalpThe SebastianTivoli Lodge

You can’t go wrong with staying in Vail Village. This area is a pedestrian village with plenty of shops, food, and amazing views. If you’re in Colorado for the ski resorts, then you’ll be right within walking distance of the ski lifts, which is a huge consideration at the end of a long day on the slopes. 

If you’re staying in Vail for the first time, then Vail Village has a great small-town feel that makes it easy to get your bearings and find where you’re going.

Pros of Staying in Vail Village Neighborhood:

  • Small-town feel
  • Shops, restaurants, and skiing within walking distance

Con of Staying in Vail Village Neighborhood:

  • Hotels can be pricey

📚 Vail Village Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Vintage Vail
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsThe SonnenalpThe SebastianTivoli Lodge
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Vail
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Matsuhisa ($$$$), La Nonna Ristorante Vail ($$$$), Vintage ($$$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – The Remedy Bar, The George Restaurant & Pub, Shakedown Bar
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Skiing, Spas, Shops

Lionshead Village

View of a greenery area and shops in Lionshead Village
Lionshead Village has plenty of streets to stroll, with shopping and restaurants. (photo: Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock)

👉 Best Area For New Visitors | ✨ Best Lionshead Village Hotels: The Arrabelle at Vail SquareThe HytheAntlers at Vail Resort

Lionshead Village is another great choice for where to stay in Vail if you’ve never been there before. It’s a recently-renovated pedestrian village with lots of great shops, restaurants, coffee shops, spas, and other attractions like the rink at Vail Square.

It’s also very close to the Eagle Bahn Gondola and Born Free Express Lift. To get to these places, you can walk from Lionshead to Vail Village in about 15 minutes, or you can take the free town bus.

Pros of Staying in the Lionshead Neighborhood:

  • Skiing, shops, restaurants within walking distance
  • Beautiful cobbled streets and scenery
  • Very close to Eagle Bahn Gondola and Born Free Express Lift

Con of Staying in the Lionshead Neighborhood:

  • Hotels will be more expensive than in the outskirts of town

📚 Lionshead Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for New Visitors
Google Map

Golden Peak

Overlooking view of Golden Peak during autumn in Vail

👉 Best Area For Peace & Quiet | ✨ Best Golden Peak Hotels: Manor Vail LodgeAll Seasons at Golden PeakThe Wren at Vail

The area of Golden Peak is a five-minute walk from Vail Village, which means it’s out of the hustle and bustle of the ski village itself but still close to all the sites. That, and the fact that it’s near Vail’s childcare facilities, makes it a great option for families with young kids. 

Staying at Golden Peak means you’ll be at the base of the Riva Bahn Express Lift – it’s a good spot for watching the ski races that take place at Vail. The Wren at Vail has ski shuttles, as do several other properties in the area, so getting around is a breeze.

Pros of Staying in the Golden Peak Neighborhood:

  • Quieter than the more central villages
  • Near childcare
  • Near the terrain park
  • Great spot for watching ski races

Cons of Staying in the Golden Peak Neighborhood:

  • Farther from shops and restaurants
  • Farther from the more popular ski lifts

📚 Golden Peak Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Peace & Quiet
Google Map

West Vail

Overlooking view of a landscape in West Vail, Colorado

👉 Best Area For Budget Travelers | ✨ Best West Vail Hotels: Marriott’s StreamSide Evergreen at VailHighline Vail DoubletreeEagle Point Resort

As a general rule of thumb, as you get farther from the two main villages, you’ll find cheaper lodgings. So, West Vail is a where to stay in Vail if you’re on a budget or would rather spend your money elsewhere.

Staying in West Vail means you’ll have more of an opportunity to experience what it’s like to live in a Vail community, rather than at the resort. You’ll find supermarkets, inexpensive food including fast food, playgrounds, and an off-leash dog park in West Vail. 

Pros of Staying in the West Vail Neighborhood:

  • Lodging is relatively cheap (for Vail)
  • More options for inexpensive food & drinks
  • Playgrounds and dog park

Con of Staying in the West Vail Neighborhood:

  • Requires driving or the bus to get to skiing

📚 West Vail Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Budget Travelers
Google Map

East Vail

Scenic view from a mountain area in East Vail, Colorado

👉 Best Area For Living Like a Local  | ✨ Best East Vail Hotels: Vail Racquet Club Mountain ResortBlack Gore #ACourtside Townhomes

Like West Vail, East Vail is farther from skiing and the cute shops and restaurants of the main villages. That said, it’s also cheaper and feels more like part of the Vail community. 

East Vail also has amazing scenery, thanks to the East Vail Chutes that jut up into the sky. This neighborhood is family-friendly and is home to the Bighorn off-leash dog park, plus a nearby pond and playground. East Vail also features the renowned Vail Racquet Club, with a gym and heated pool. There is a small market in East Vail, but you’ll want to head to West Vail for actual supermarket chains.

Pros of Staying in the East Vail Neighborhood:

  • Hotels and rentals are cheaper
  • Features community perks like parks, playgrounds, & a market

Con of Staying in the East Vail Neighborhood:

  • Need to drive or shuttle to skiing
  • Farther from most restaurants, bars, & shops

📚 East Vail Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Living Like a Local
Google Map

Tips for Staying in Vail, Colorado

Be Ready For A Drive

Overlooking view of a highway in Vail with mountain view

If you’re traveling by plane to Colorado, then you’ll more than likely be landing at Denver International Airport (DIA). Vail is a two-hour drive from the airport in good weather with no traffic. If it’s snowing, or you’re headed up the mountain on a Friday afternoon, it can take a lot longer.

Also, be ready for mountain driving – you’ll be on a nice, big freeway but there are some serious uphill climbs and winding parts.

There is also an airport in Eagle County, about half an hour away from Vail. This airport is small and has limited flights, but it doesn’t hurt to check your options!

Or Consider Vail’s Public Transit

A woman riding a public transit bus in Vail
(photo: Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock)

Not up for driving? Then you’re in luck! There’s a very good chance you won’t need a car during your stay in Vail.

To get to Vail from DIA, you can use a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft. Although the ride is pricey, it could be cheaper than renting a car and paying for parking, especially if you’re spending several days there. If you’d like to save even more and don’t mind a few road trip buddies, there are several shuttle services like Epic Mountain Express or InterMountain Express that can get you there and back.

If you’ll be in East or West Vail, or want to get to the grocery store or places outside the villages, Vail has an excellent, free bus around town. In fact, they have one of the largest free bus systems in the country. I’ve taken the bus in Vail and it’s clean, easy to navigate, and a great solution for getting around town.

👉 Pro Tip: If traveling Colorado by rail appeals to you, then check out this epic list of the best train rides in Colorado!

Vail is Very Walkable

If you’re staying in one of the two main villages – Lionshead or Vail Village – likely everything you need will be within walking distance. Skiing, restaurants, and other activities like ice skating in Vail Square, spa services, or shopping are all right there.

Use Sunscreen Liberally (Not Just in Summer)

No matter what time of year you visit, applying sunscreen to any exposed skin is essential. It’s easy to forget about applying sunscreen during a Colorado winter when the weather is cold, but thanks to the sun reflecting off the snow, sunburns can happen. 

I use this high SPF sunscreen on my face and neck, and a sport sunscreen for any other parts of my body that are exposed.

Drink Lots of Water 

High altitude areas like Vail have low humidity so it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink more water than you would at sea level, and be aware of your caffeine and alcohol intake – those drinks can make you feel less thirsty, but they don’t keep you hydrated.

Take Time to Acclimate

If you’re coming to Vail from a low elevation, give yourself a day or two to adjust. Consider spending a day exploring the many fun activities in Denver before heading into the mountains. When you do get to Vail, allow yourself some time to acclimate before any strenuous hiking, skiing, or other activities. 

📚 Related Reading: 13 Denver Travel Tips & Things to Know (By a Local)

FAQs About Where to Stay in Vail, CO

Is it better to stay in Vail Village or Lionshead?

Vail Village is the best place to stay in Vail. It’s near everything visitors need, whether they’re skiing in winter, hiking in summer, or visiting to see the gorgeous fall foliage or spring flowers. Ski lifts, shops, restaurants, and other amenities are all within walking distance and the beautiful cobblestone streets invoke the charm of a Swiss alpine village.

Does Vail have a downtown?

Vail Village is considered Vail’s downtown area. Travelers will find upscale shops, along with souvenir shops, a candy store, an ice cream shop, restaurants, cafes, and much more.

Is Vail the same as Beaver Creek?

Vail is not the same as Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek is a separate ski resort located 13 miles west of Vail and has its own lifts, as well as a village with shopping, restaurants, and an ice rink. 

***

Thanks for reading my guide to Vail’s best neighborhoods and areas! Whether you want an all-inclusive, upscale resort or a condo in a Vail neighborhood that makes you feel like part of the community, where to stay in Vail all comes down to preference.

And while you’re here, be sure to check out my guide to where to stay in Colorado.

Have fun staying in Vail!

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