10 incredible hotels for a dreamy winter vacation

Nov 25, 2021

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It’s once again that special time of the year when the sun goes down early, the scent of hot cocoa and peppermint fills the air, warm sweaters keep you cozy and you realize it’s probably time for a vacation.

If you’re looking for a true winter escape, where the falling snow is magic and not an inconvenience, you’re in luck. From luxurious ski resorts where hitting the slopes is only half the fun to glass igloos with views of the northern lights, this roundup of our favorite places for a true winter vacation has you covered.

Just don’t forget to pack your warmest coat and mittens.

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Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York

aerial view of Mohonk Mountain House
(Photo courtesy of Mohonk Mountain House)

If you thought castles plucked straight out of a fairy tale were reserved for Europe or Walt Disney World, it’s time to head to upstate New York for a very special hotel. At the all-inclusive Mohonk Mountain House, you’ll enjoy three square meals a day, including elegant seated options with waitstaff.

But what really makes the journey to this European-like escape is the natural beauty around the historic building. During the winter months, guests can snowshoe, go cross-country skiing or take a winter hike to enjoy the Hudson Valley blanketed with snow. For a little more fun, the resort also offers snow tubing and ice skating, all of which are included in the price of the stay. Finish the day off cuddled up near your in-room fireplace and you might just wonder if your life is a movie.

How to book: Rates here are easily above $600 a night for double occupancy during the winter months, but keep in mind that rates include all of your food.

Montage Big Sky, Big Sky, Montana

snow ski chalet/resort with snow-capped mountains, tall pine trees and people playing in the snow
(Image courtesy of Montage Big Sky)

One of the best new hotels of 2021, Montage Big Sky is a Montana resort that’s open year-round but was made to kick a winter vacation into overdrive. Located in Big Sky near the Spanish Peaks mountains, guests here can enjoy thousands of acres of ski-in, ski-out access at Big Sky Resort or other winter sports such as snow biking, snowshoeing and cross-country and nordic skiing.

Of course, hitting the slopes is only half the fun. The resort has a luxury spa offering a variety of treatments, plus an indoor pool to relax in. At Cortina, the resort’s northern Italian restaurant, enjoy handmade pasta and oven-roasted pizzas. To warm up at the end of the day, listen to live music next to a fireplace with an expertly crafted cocktail in hand at the rustic-chic bar, Alpenglow.

How to book: Rates at Montage Big Sky start around $1,595 per night, before taxes, for a resort-view room.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, North Star, California

aerial view of resort and snowy mountain
(Photo courtesy of the Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe)

Out on the West Coast, winter is at its best around Lake Tahoe, and The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe might be its shining jewel. At this luxurious resort, you’ll find all the best winter activities, including downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and even snowmobiling. In fact, the resort is a great place for the family, as it can help you get your winter sport newbies enrolled in skiing or snowboarding lessons.

Inside, away from the snow and cold, you can relax in the resort’s 17,000-square-foot spa, which offers a heated outdoor lap pool, saunas and a eucalyptus steam room. Other must-dos include dining on local, seasonal ingredients at Manzanita and grabbing a cocktail near the fireplace at The Living Room Bar. To get into town for ice skating, shopping and more restaurants, just hop on the intermountain gondola.

How to book: Expect to pay between 70,000 and 100,000 points per night at this Category 8 Marriott Bonvoy resort, depending on the day.

Related: 15 of our favorite ski-friendly resort hotels you can book on points

Canopy by Hilton Reykjavík City Centre, Reykjavík, Iceland

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

If you want to catch the northern lights, it’s time to start planning a trip to Iceland in winter. To root your trip, why not spend a few nights at the Canopy by Hilton Reykjavík City Centre to see what the tiny island nation’s capital city has to offer?

This Canopy is in the heart of the city’s entertainment and shopping district, so it’s the perfect place to get cultured in a city that knows how to do winter really well — plus, you can earn and redeem Hilton Honors points here.

While Reykjavík has plenty to offer on its own, the hotel’s restaurant, Geiri Smart, attracts folks from all over. According to the restaurant, “There are no fixed rules, and we play it by ear depending on what our farmers have to offer at any given moment.”

So, before you head off on an excursion searching for the wonders of the sky, stay here to enjoy the wonders of one of Europe’s coolest — figuratively and literally — cities.

How to book: Standard award rates for January can be found for as low as 43,000 Hilton Honors points per night. With the Hilton Honors American Express Card, you could earn  the card’s welcome offer of 80,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Card in the first three months of Card Membership.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Saariselkä, Finland

(Photo courtesy of Hotel Kakslauttanen Igloo Village)

To take your winter vacation to the next level, why not stay in the most extreme winter accommodation available: an igloo.

At Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland, that’s totally possible — and also completely luxurious. Here, guests can choose from a number of different igloo types, but the glass igloos, with full views of the sky, are the best because they give guests the chance to catch the northern lights right from bed.

The resort also offers plenty of exciting adventures and activities for guests, including husky and reindeer safaris, excursions to find the aurora borealis, ice fishing, horseback riding and even a ride on a snow tank, a military-like vehicle where the rubber meets the snow. Sure, getting to this remote part of Finland seems tricky, but there are flights to the area from Helsinki and Finland.

How to book: Small igloo rates start at about $435 per night for off-season double occupancy bookings, and $484 for peak-season double occupancy bookings.

Schloss Fuschl, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Fuschlsee-Salzburg, Austria

aerial view of castle resort on lake
(Photo courtesy of Marriott)

Another European destination where winter is spectacular, Schloss Fuschl (part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection) is a charming retreat that feels like a real-life fairy tale when it’s covered in snow. Located on scenic Lake Fuschl, just 20 minutes from Salzburg, the hotel’s original castle was built in 1450 and now offers 104 guest rooms, suites and lakeside chalets.

At the spa, enjoy views of the lake from an indoor pool before getting a treatment or warming up in the sauna. Offering a number of dining venues, the property gives you plenty of dining options to choose from, but savoring Austrian wine and classic foods at Vinothek, located in the castle’s tower, is a must.

How to book: At this Category 8 Marriott Bonvoy property, standard award nights cost 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, though some 70,000 off-peak nights can be found throughout winter.

Related: Your complete guide to Marriott hotel brands

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Lake Louise, Alberta

(Photo courtesy of the Fairmont Château Lake Louise)

If there’s a country that knows how to do winter right, it’s Canada. And at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, winter takes on a whole new level of grandeur.

Located on the shore of Lake Louise in Banff National Park, this iconic resort is tucked away in the Canadian Rockies near Victoria Glacier.

At the resort, winter activities abound, including skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, not to mention some off-site activities like ice climbing, snow tubing and treks to the nearby glaciers. Back on property, a luxury spa lets guests unwind and a heated indoor pool allows people to stretch their muscles with a swim. A number of can’t-miss restaurants, including a pub with decadent fondue, let people fill up and recharge for another day of snowy adventures or simply kicking back and taking in the beauty of it all.

How to book: Booking with Accor Live Limitless can be a little confusing, so take a look at our handy guide to learn how to start earning and redeeming. Cash rates for winter start around $280.

Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa, Lenox, Massachusetts

Miraval Berkshires (Photo courtesy of Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If hitting the slopes or frolicking in the snow don’t quite fit your fancy, maybe it’s time to head to New England for a tranquil spa weekend at Miraval Berkshires, a popular wellness resort that’s also a great place to earn and redeem World of Hyatt points.

Here, guests can enjoy a mostly all-inclusive experience at an adults-only property that caters to those looking to recharge. Honestly, it’s the perfect place for parents to unwind after a busy holiday season spent playing Santa or entertaining in-laws. From a calming hot stone massage to deep meditation sessions, the resort offers a robust wellness experience designed to leave guests feeling relaxed and renewed after a visit. It also offers plenty of winter activities, including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

If you need more convincing, see why TPG senior reporter Zach Griff gave the resort our highest badge of honor.

How to book: Miraval properties don’t quite fit into Hyatt’s standard awards chart. For now, free nights cost 45,000 points for one guest per night, and an additional guest can be added for 20,000 extra points.

The St. Regis Aspen Resort, Aspen, Colorado

(Photo courtesy of St. Regis Aspen)

We all know the rich and famous love to jet off to Aspen for the winter — and you should, too.

At The St. Regis Aspen Resort, a Marriott property, you’ll feel like a star walking into the luxury resort at the base of Aspen Mountain. What’s great about a winter to trip to Aspen is that you’re able to combine the joys of winter sports and après-ski with the convenience of being in a popular resort town with fine dining, designer shopping and more.

At the resort, a ski valet helps guests with the equipment needed to hit one of the area’s four mountains for snowboarding or skiing, while a regular valet helps guests to a number of rustic-chic rooms and suites, including many with mountain views. Other winter activities include sleigh rides, dog sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing and even winter fly-fishing.

The perfect place for a group of skiers and those who’d rather stay off the mountain, The St. Regis Aspen also offers a spa, a 24-hour heated pool, hot tubs and a number of restaurants, including the opulent Velvet Buck, serving up “rustic mountain cuisine.”

How to book: Cash and points rates at this Category 8 resort are high, especially during the busy winter season. That said, booking a rewards night, even at the peak 100,000 points per night rate, can be a great value compared to exuberant cash rates that can easily soar beyond $1,000.

Related: Book this, not that: Ski hotels edition

The Plaza, New York City, New York

The Grand Ballroom at The Plaza Hotel (Photo by Caitlin Riddell for The Points Guy)

Winter in New York City is simply spectacular, so if you’re going to visit, why not just go for the version you see on television and in the movies by booking a stay at The Plaza?

Arguably the city’s most iconic hotel, The Plaza gives you direct access to Central Park, which comes alive during a winter snowfall, and the luxury shops lining Fifth Avenue.

Inside the hotel, which is truly as grand as you would imagine, stately rooms feel like they’re fit for royalty and ballrooms and dining rooms drip with gold accents and shiny chandeliers. Not to mention, afternoon tea at The Palm Court will make you feel like royalty yourself. If you’re traveling with kids, the Eloise Suite can make the winter magic all the more special with its pink-striped walls, neon sign and Betsy Johnson-designed interior.

How to book: Part of the Accor Live Limitless program, guests with ALL rewards points can cash in 2,000 points for 40 euros (about $44) off of their stay. Right now, Capital One miles transfer to ALL at a 2 to 1 ratio, so 4,000 Capital One miles can help you save $44.

That said, rooms at The Plaza start about $650 per night, so you would need to transfer at least 60,000 Capital One miles into your ALL account to cover the stay.

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CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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