The Best Hotels in Death Valley for Every Traveler

One of the hottest places on Earth plays host to a surprisingly diverse hotel scene
One of the hottest places on Earth plays host to a surprisingly diverse hotel scene | © Corbin17 / Alamy Stock Photo
Sarah Gillespie

With a name so macabre, you wouldn’t expect Death Valley to have a particularly lively hotel scene. But like with so many things in California, jumping to conclusions is a mistake. From a Hollywood hideout to an Old West ranch, via a working opera house and a living art installation, there’s a hotel for everyone in Death Valley.

1. Amargosa Opera House

Motel, Bed and Breakfast

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Courtesy of Amargosa Opera House / Expedia

Skirting the ominous gray peaks of Funeral Mountains Wilderness Area, this characterful theater-with-rooms pays tribute to its enigmatic former owner: opera singer Marta Becket, who died in 2017. You can still see her hand-painted murals and trompe l’oeil ceilings in the guest rooms and dining room, which also features a fridge-freezer, microwave and toaster oven for preparing meals. The opera house hosts weekly shows from the Vegas City Opera and local classical musicians.

2. The Inn at Death Valley

Spa Hotel, Resort

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Courtesy of the Inn at Death Valley – Inside the Park / Expedia

Rising like a mirage from the dunes surrounding Death Valley Gateway, this desert resort channels old Hollywood with its palm-fringed pool, dark-wood furnishings and a guest list that once featured Marlon Brando and Clark Gable. The menu of healing spa treatments includes pineapple juice foot wraps and champagne body scrubs; follow it up with a Wagyu steak from the upscale dining room. Furnace Creek Airport is a five-minute drive away.

3. The Ranch at Death Valley

Luxury, Boutique Hotel

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Courtesy of the Ranch at Death Valley – Inside the Park / Expedia

Run with the same panache as its sister resort, the Inn at Death Valley, this former working ranch is a vacation unto itself, with an ice cream and coffee bar, grocery store, stables, golf course and Wild West saloon-style restaurant on site. Guest rooms have a relaxed mid-century feel, and many open onto suntrap patios and balconies. The National Park Visitor Center is right next door.

4. Stovepipe Wells Village

Independent Hotel

Occupying a remote spot near the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Mosaic Canyon, this Old West-style hotel offers a break from fast-paced modern life. Rooms are simply equipped – only deluxe rooms have TVs and refrigerators, the better to experience unparalleled desert vistas and starry night skies. The Toll Road restaurant serves American comfort food such as omelets, burgers and steaks in a classic saloon-style setting.

5. Panamint Springs Resort

Independent Hotel

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Courtesy of Panamint Springs Resort / Expedia

Hugging the curious geological formations of the Panamint Valley, this cottagey resort provides camping and RV facilities. Rooms range from pared-back, motel-style lodgings to self-contained private cabins – families should opt for the largest “cottage,” which sleeps five guests. The timber-clad bar serves burgers, pizzas and beer aplenty – sit out on the terrace for the best views of the park. Pets are welcome for an additional fee.

6. Shoshone Inn

Inn

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Courtesy of Shoshone Inn / Expedia

The embodiment of Old West hospitality, this 17-room lodge is just one mile (1.6km) from Death Valley’s southeast entrance and makes an ideal base for golden eagle spotting in the Nopah Range. Five rooms have kitchenettes, and there are larger self-contained homes for groups of up to six. The Crowbar Cafe & Saloon serves burgers, fries and Mexican dishes in old-school piano bar surroundings.

7. Villa Anita DV

Boutique Hotel, Independent Hotel

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Courtesy of Villa Anita in Death Valley / Booking.com

Part boutique cabin complex, part art museum, Villa Anita has a commune feel. Guests tend to be the guitar-toting bohemian type, instantly at home among an ever-rotating collection of paintings and upcycled installations. Take jewelry or ceramics classes with artist-in-residence, Jack Holloman, and enjoy meals that use ingredients from the villa’s own garden. Situated between Death Valley and the Mojave National Preserve, it’s an ideal base for both.

8. Shady Lady Bed and Breakfast

Inn, Bed and Breakfast

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Courtesy of Shady Lady Bed and Breakfast / Expedia

Just over the border in Nevada, this cheery B&B is a 30-minute drive from Death Valley’s northeast entrance. Rooms have individual themes ranging from cabin-like with a wood-paneled tub, to the sultry Japanese room with painted enamels and pearl-inlay cabinets. After tucking into a complimentary breakfast, wander among flocks of peacocks on the grounds or take a dip in the pool under the open sky.

9. The Retreat on Charleston Peak

Lodge

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Courtesy of the Retreat on Charleston Peak / Expedia

Surrounded by the majestic bristlecone pines of Mount Charleston, 7,500ft (2,286m) above sea level, you’d have no idea this rustic retreat was only 30 minutes from Las Vegas. Fresh from a 2018 renovation, it’s now big on sustainability, using solar power and local ingredients in the on-site Canyons Restaurant. The timbered interiors and leather sofas make an ideal setting for kicking back by the fireplace with a boozy hot chocolate.

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