America’s first destination ski resort (est. 1936) remains one of its finest. But visitors, confronted with its unusual layout, may need guidance finding the perfect place to bed down. Skiers choose from two locales: Sun Valley, a shuttle ride from beginner-friendly Dollar Mountain; the classic resort village experience; and Ketchum, a 19th-century mining town at the foot of Bald Mountain, the main ski area. No ski-in/ski-out lodging, but no worries: Shuttles run between the village, Ketchum and the slopes.
LUXURY: Sun Valley Lodge
Sun Valley Inn Rack your skis where Sonja Heine skated in
Sun Valley Serenade
and Ernest Hemingway wrote
For Whom the Bell Tolls
. Set in the resort village, the Lodge (1936) and the Inn (1937), both recently remodeled, convey Golden Age graciousness with coffered ceilings, marble bathrooms and snowy snapshots of visitors such as Clark Gable and Lucille Ball adorning the corridors. Dine at The Ram, where pianist Larry Harshbarger has entertained for 30 years. Tip: Since the two properties offer 10 different room layouts, call to book your stay instead of using the Web.
$180–$640; sunvalley.com; 800-786-8259
ROMANCE: Knob Hill Inn
The Arlberg meets Idaho at this hotel on Ketchum’s Main Street. A
(wood-burning stove bedecked with colorful tiles) warms the lobby and
(an Austrian pancake) is a staple on the breakfast menu. Although the architecture is alpine, room décor recalls the California coast with bleached woods and pastel fabrics. Windows face the Sawtooth Range or the trails on Baldy. For a good value, book one of the four fireplace rooms, each with a wood-burning hearth.
$250–$500; knobhillinn.com; 800-526-8010
CONDO: Thunder Spring
When you need a little more space, these apartments minutes from Bald Mountain and Ketchum are a good option. Unlike most condos, Thunder Spring comes with a concierge who can book ski school and stock up on your favorite beer. But the best perk is full access to the adjoining Zenergy Spa, where you can soak in the huge outdoor whirlpool.
$600-–$2,000; thunderspring.com; 800-405-8494 l
Premier Resorts; $95–$1,350;
High Country Resort Properties; $300–$8,500;
Best Western Kentwood; $170– $220;