A weekend skiing in Vermont


A weekend skiing in Vermont

Seven days in the mountains is covetable but not compulsory… Kate Pettifer finds a short ski weekend in Stowe is long on charm (and easier on the legs)

Kate Pettifer

BY Kate Pettifer22 February 2024

What did you do on the weekend? Laundry? Shopping? A box-set binge? Perhaps a run or dinner with friends? Answer ‘skiing’ and your weekend is catapulted into the realms of high glamour. A Saturday and Sunday spent bagging fresh tracks, chasing the pow’, or swooshing to lunch on the hill are two days dished out in style.

Of the US resorts, Vermont has the strongest of weekend credentials for Eastern ski bunnies – reachable from Montreal or Boston in just a few hours. Perhaps it’s time to rethink your winter plans – a ski break doesn’t always need to eat into your annual leave…


Our pick of ski hills in Vermont is Stowe – a winter resort in the Green Mountains that’s split between town and hill, connected by an easy 15-minute drive up Mountain Road. For a weekend away, it’s reachable from anywhere between Montreal and New York: Burlington, Plattsburgh and Lebanon are your nearest domestic touchdown points, or you could drive from as far away as Boston and still have plenty of time (and energy) to hit the slopes.


Stowe Mountain’s ski trails have something for all abilities, split between Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, with easy navigation between the two thanks to a gondola link. The latter ski area has had a serious overhaul, with relatively new accommodation, a skating rink, smattering of food trucks, bars and restaurants at the mountain base. The terrain at Spruce Peak is ideal for beginners or rusty intermediates looking to warm up their quads. Mount Mansfield has the lion’s share of trails for intermediates and beyond. I could have taken Sunrise and the FourRunner Quad up and down all day and not have tired of the tree-lined blue runs, which on a cold December weekend, are already plump with fresh powder. Stops to thaw out with a mug of something hot at Octagon Café are also recommended.


I had White Christmas-inspired, Bing Crosby-soundtracked hopes for my 48 hours in Stowe, and it matched my expectations in festive spirit with ease. In winter, Stowe’s main drag of clapboard-cute houses, cafés, gift shops and galleries is strung with fairylights, its lampposts garlanded with ribbon. In December, it was like a scene from Home Alone (minus the neglected kids): there were children singing carols to Saturday shoppers; a bundle in the bookstore to see Santa, and a craft fair at the church for passers-by in search of indie gifts. The town may have less than a thousand residents, but it’s strong on local character and has a lived-in charm that’s more than just a show for the tourists.

Non-skiers will be seduced by its line-up of stores. I spent a happy hour or two browsing Northwood Gallery for local art and curios, Stowe Mercantile and Remarkable Home for handmade and vintage gifts, and Brenna B Interiors (out on Mountain Road) for upscale homewares. And if you’re dining in town, head down School Street to natural-wine bar and restaurant Cork.


The choice of boutique hotels in Stowe is also strong. I stayed at Field Guide Lodge, a budget-friendly bolthole on Mountain Road that’s still walkable from town, but is also across the road from a handful of excellent bars and restaurants (the Bagel for breakfasts, Skinny Pancake for brunch or lunch, and the Bench or Doc Pond’s are lively pub-restaurants serving hearty plates, for dinner).

This intimate and friendly basecamp stay started life in the 1940s as a hostel, but has been overhauled by Elder + Ash (whose owners Megan Kennedy and Rob Blood are also the hoteliers behind our Lark Hotels collection), embracing Alpine tropes, tactile furnishings, and flashes of orange to create cosy, contemporary interiors, both in the original hostel building and a new wing out back, with lodgings specifically kitted out for short stays (more room to lounge – less storage). It also does a fine line in après-ski, meaning you won’t have far to go for cocktails, small plates, and live music on the weekend.

Serious shredders who’re unconcerned by the proximity of town, should opt for riverside Bluebird Tälta Lodge, closer to the mountain base. Field Guide Lodge’s bigger sister offers Scandi-style modern interiors (with kit lockers), an impressive pool, a hot tub, and a cosy Alpine bar. There’s no food on-site, but with place-to-be sushi and pizza spot Matterhorn just down the road, that won’t bother you. Some of the rooms are set up, motel-style, with their own entrances; on the snow-covered ‘lawn’ there are log huts with fireplaces you can book for alfresco drinks, and mountain bikers should take note that it has its own pump track out the back, too.

With so much to cram in, you may feel a weekend is not enough to explore the winter charms of Vermont – but Stowe easily qualifies a boomerang destination (you’ll want to circle back there), and even better, has just as much to lure outdoorsy types in summer, too.

For more weekend-friendly mountain lodgings, check out our full collection of ski hotels.