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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.