A place people return to again and again, Sonnenalp Vail is a classic. Loosely translated, the property’s name means “sun on the mountains,” and it’s a fitting one for this boutique, family-owned hotel built on the banks of Gore Creek but looking as though it was plucked from a Bavarian storybook.
It’s a trick for a hotel in a mountain town to be both traditional and contemporary, grand and simple, but Sonnenalp pulls it off with aplomb. The experience is marked by polished service, über cozy atmosphere, and interiors laden with alpine artifacts—almost everything is imported from Germany, from the furniture and the linens right down to the dishes and staff uniforms. That’s because the Faessler family, which owns and operates the Sonnenalp, opened a small lodge in the Allgäu Alps in 1919 before importing the concept to Vail in 1979. But the Colorado branch is more than a mere imitation of its German predecessor.
You’ll find the hotel charmingly inviting, with white-washed walls, rustic wood accents, and lots of plaid in the public spaces, which include a library where you can unwind by the fire after a day on the trails.
The best rooms at this ski lodge also have fireplaces and give you a front-row view of the mountain, but all 127 accommodations (112 suites and 15 guest rooms) ooze charm and are well-appointed to boot, complete with large bathrooms with heated marble floors, personalized in-room refreshment centers, humidifiers (which housekeeping refills for you daily), and freshly baked cookies at turndown. There’s a lot to love.
Even if you don’t stay here, a trip to the Sonnenalp’s spa is in order. The bright, airy space offers an array of holistic therapies (facials, massages, and other high-elevation treatments) and amenities—plus a heated indoor/outdoor pool and a spa cafe with an oxygen bar to combat any altitude struggles.
Eat + Drink
Start your day at Sonnenalp with breakfast in Ludwig’s sunroom, where the vibe is bright and the spread is impressive. You’ll find a variety of artisan cheeses, yogurts, and breads, along with cured meats, fresh fruits, and pastries that could easily pass for art. Come evening, Swiss Chalet offers a cozy spot for fondue and schnitzel, keeping the European ski charm alive. Elsewhere on the property, Bully Ranch serves up American and Southwestern classics, Harvest has New American cuisine, and Ludwig’s serves lighter options, including wild game like Colorado elk and venison.
This chalet-style property’s location is excellent—right in Vail Village, just a four-minute walk from the ski lifts and surrounded by restaurants, boutiques, bars, and other establishments along Vail’s pedestrian-friendly East Meadows Drive. Take advantage of Sonnenalp’s ski concierge service and leave your equipment in expert hands near the hotel entrance. When it’s time to hit the trails, you’ll find your boots warmed and your gear waiting at the Gorsuch Ski Café near Gondola One. And once your quads have had enough time on the slopes, a warm cookie and attentive staff await your return.