The mountainous landscapes of Sun Valley, Idaho, where Ernest Hemingway lived out his last days, are truly something to write home about, particularly if you opt to stay in one of these fine places – bookable on Culture Trip.
Sun Valley deserves its reputation as one of the best winter retreats in the United States. It was the first destination ski resort in the country, where winter turns the mountains into a reliable wonderland for skiers and snowboarders. The outdoor adventures continue even after the snow thaws, exposing hiking trails that lead to some amazing views of the Idaho landscapes. Whenever you choose to visit, there’s plenty of outdoor fun – an experience heightened by a stay in one of the very best hotels in the area.
Even if you’re a wannabe A-lister chasing the luxury of Sun Valley, you’ll find it in the celebrity suite at Sun Valley Lodge – this posh hotel’s most exclusive option. Clint Eastwood and Marilyn Monroe are among the notable figures who’ve stayed in this room, warming their toes by the impressive fireplace. Even if you book an entry-level room, you can pamper yourself rotten – book a treatment at the 20,000sqft (1,858sqm) spa and settle in for martinis at the bar, where you’ll soon be feeling like a million dollars.
For nearly a century now, this lovely property at the Sun Valley Resort has preserved its old-world charm. The handmade French room furnishings, hewn from solid oak, help create a visit that’s simple yet supreme. While the historic lodge has stuck with classic mountain hospitality, modern amenities have crept in over the years, including an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a restaurant and a lobby bar for relaxing nights after hectic slope days. It has sweetened the deal even further – by opening the Sun Valley Chocolate Foundry across the street.
You won’t need hiking boots to explore downtown Ketchum while you’re staying at the Tamarack Lodge, with its cozy king fireplace rooms with mountain views. You’re mere blocks away from locally owned shops, restaurants and art galleries. Indulge in a little retail therapy at Giacobbi Square, fill up on slices and pints at Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill, and get the lowdown on the area’s creative scene at the Sun Valley Museum of Art. You won’t walk enough to end up with sore feet, but when you’re back at the ranch, you should hop in the outdoor hot tub all the same.
It’s tricky to experience the expansive outdoors of southern Idaho in a few days. If you want to spend more time here, consider renting a fully furnished condo rather than a classic guest room or suite – then you can stay as long as you wish. Also, there’s no need for your exercise routine to flag while away from home, as the property has Peloton bikes and an indoor pool. A nutritious yet filling breakfast bar is available every morning, and the firepit and gazebo help you wind down at night.
About a 10-minute drive south of Sun Valley, in the shadow of the Sawtooth Range, this historic hotel feels more like a second home. It only has eight rooms – the atmospheric Hemingway, with its tooled-wood bed and vaulted ceilings, is a popular choice. It’s a place to settle into and drift away, perhaps playing a friendly game of cricket with other guests on the lawn before retreating to the fireplace in the living room to reflect on the beauty of the area. If the mountain views from your king room inspire you to explore, you can be crunching along the Wood River Trail in a matter of seconds.
Are you a wordsmith? Unafraid to write on hallowed ground? Take a room at Knob Hill Inn, a fantastic Sun Valley home base that’s right beside the grave of Ernest Hemingway, who died in Ketchum in the summer of 1961. Book a room with a writing desk, and you’re ready to start penning the next Great American Novel – although distractions include the wet bar and mountain views from your private balcony. Should you begin to fade, there’s a cafe across the street where you can grab an espresso to help you meet that deadline.
Limelight Hotel Ketchum has free shuttles to Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain each day, but while it’s not even a mile from the nearest ski lift, this luxury resort will get its hooks into you. With its overstuffed chairs and happy-hour specials, the open-air plaza area is as relaxing as the outdoor pool and hot tubs. However, the Zenergy Health Club and Spa outdoes them both – who can resist Himalayan salt saunas and eucalyptus steam rooms?
Just a short drive south of Sun Valley, Hotel Ketchum gives its guests evenings that are just as lovely as their days. Rooms are bright white cocoons – whether you pick a fireplace king or a balcony double queen. It’s a sociable place where you can mingle with fellow skiers over breakfast coffees in the Hangout before renting ski equipment on-site. It’s even pet-friendly, so bring your dog or cat. One of the highlights here is Barrio75, a tacos and tequila lounge – visit when you don’t plan to hit the slopes early the following day.