Forget Little House on the Prairie, we’ve fallen head over spurs for a new diminutive American lodge. Boutique hotel Sopris House has just four bedrooms – ideal for family or group stays in Colorado’s laid-back town, Crested Butte. Surveyed by alternatively snow- and wildflower-coated peaks, the hotel’s activities tend to the outdoorsy. Winter sport picks run the gamut from beginner slopes to full-throttle heli-skiing; come summer, you can bike, hike and raft rapids. But, you’ll cherish coming home to a roaring fire and toasty hot tub – and you call the shots here: just want a home-cooked breakfast (your chef will do the honours) and a place to hang your hat? Or the whole caboodle, with guides, and your pick of the rooting-est, tooting-est western adventures? You got it.
Get this when you book through us:
A selection of shortbread cookies from a local bakery
10am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $2400.00, excluding tax at 15 per cent.
Guests get the (all the way to) Eleven Experience, which includes breakfast, lunch and après snacks, a guide and host, a selection of adventures and necessary kit, return airport transfers from Gunnison or Montrose, local transportation and bike hire.
Not sure whether to pull on your thickest parka or your breeziest outfit – there’s a daily updated blackboard with the current weather situation propped up on the fireplace, alongside the day’s newspaper. You don’t have to go outside to wildlife spot: your new digs have a resident buffalo (head) and pheasant, both stuffed, but house-trained. There’s a little history here too – the house was built in 1882; in the 1920s it was turned into a saloon by the fittingly named Martin Spritzer. The past is in-built, with floors sourced from an old sugar factory and roof beams from a midwestern barn.
Annually, the hotel’s winter season runs from approximately 1 December to 15 April, the summer season from 25 May to 15 October. In between the house shutters up for a well-earned rest.
At the hotel
Shared courtyard garden with a hot tub, unheated plunge pool, sauna and fire pit; Big Green Egg barbecue; access to a games room with a jukebox, pool table and board games; stone fireplace; full kitchen; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen with AirPlay and Apple TV; sound system; brilliant free minibar with plentiful water, both regular and coconut, and treats such as chocolate-coated pretzels, sriracha popcorn, dried mango, sweet and savoury peanuts and almonds, and chocolate espresso beans; tea- and coffee-making kit; adjustable spa slippers and Aesop bath products. Rainbow has a little library and Camp 4 has a separate attic room with a Nintendo Wii.
Our favourite rooms
The Rainbow Room is actually a more of a spring-bud green with a Najavo-print headboard and curtains in tasteful pastels. But where it’s lacking in colour-wheel commitment, it’s packed with rustic charm: wooden beams, a dramatic chandelier of tangled antlers, and its own little garden. We’d also quite happily curl up in its cushioned reading nook and pluck books from the library built around it. The Trappers Room wins most beautiful bath tub for its rolltop, and Kebler gets brownie points for its romantic four-poster bed. The kids room sits up in the eaves; there’s little natural light in the playroom, but the two large single beds are ideal for a pair of smalls.
The Great Outdoors awaits, so there’s no time to soak in your Speedos. However, there’s a copper hot tub in the communal courtyard, and a (very) petite plunge pool for brisk, revivifying dunkings. For a little more space to swim in, book Sopris House with sister property Scarp Ridge Lodge, which has an elegant swimmin’ hole in its basement.
There’s no full spa to speak of, but a roster of agile-fingered masseurs can be called on to soothe post-ski or hike aches; there’s a small outdoor sauna too. You can also request a personal trainer if you don’t feel quite active enough.
Sling your snow gear, your waterproofs and any other active accoutrements you’ll need for a week of adventure.
The Rainbow Room is wheelchair-accessible, though not specially adapted.
All ages welcome, but juniors will be most at home here (babies may struggle on the backcountry slopes…). Camp 4 is the kids room with four single beds and a playroom. Babysitting is available for $30 an hour (must be booked a week in advance).
The private nature of the house makes it suitable for all ages, but juniors, tweens and teens will be able to take full advantage of the activities.
Camp 4 in the house’s eaves, which has two oversized single beds, two rollaway single beds and a separate playroom, with a TV, minibar and Nintendo Wii.
This is where Sopris House excels. Any activities requested for families are tailored to each member’s abilities. The guides are as adept at looking after kids as they are adults; and they’re skilled at gauging ability levels, sourcing suitable routes for biking, levels of white-water rafting and gentler hikes. They’ll seek out the best baby slopes for beginner skiers, too.
Kids can splash about in the hot tub and plunge pool, but they’re unsupervised. Ask nicely and the neighbours at Scarp Ridge Lodge may let you use their more sizeable swimming spot.
The chef can whip up a range of family-pleasing meals. But if you’ve decided to check out the local dining scene instead, Crested Butte’s eateries star plenty of family favourites: generously packed burgers, chicken fingers and snack-y fried things, pizzas, pastas… Plot your route correctly and vegetable-dodgers can avoid greens for their entire stay.
Babysitting is available for $30 an hour (must be booked a week in advance).
No need to pack
The baby-kit cache is impressive, with changing mats, potties, bottle-sterilising facilities, booster seats, bibs, weaning spoons and cutlery, strollers, books for all ages, puzzles, U-rated DVDs, PG or 12-rated DVDs, arts materials, and bike helmets.
Sopris Casa es su casa – so, sit wherever you so wish.
The concierge, Moose, rocks a baseball cap and lumberjack shirt – let Moose be your spirit animal.
Let’s start with the facts: you’ll undoubtedly eat plenty and well here. The only tricky part is how you choose to go about doing so. You can choose to use Sopris House as a B&B, fuelling up at breakfast, then getting acquainted with Crested Butte’s fine diners later that day. By breakfast, we mean artisanal breads, pastries and cakes, crêpes, lox, lentil bowls, eggs of all manner, salads, smoothies, juices – oh, and there’s an omelette bar, too. So, we encourage you to get involved. Alternatively, you can let Eleven Experience’s in-house team prepare flavourful and locally-sourced dinners in your kitchen. They'll do all the knob-twiddling, saucepan shuffling and plating required of a Michelin star-worthy meal. But, maybe give them one night off – the Butte’s culinary repute has been praised to the mountaintops for good reason.
The wood-panelled bar feels like a warm and welcoming cabin in itself, but better because it has a vintage jukebox (which guests needn’t spend a dime on), a pool table, board games, TV and surround-sound system. It opens out to the courtyard for alfresco drinks, and, for an extra charge, you can have it stocked with your choice of local rum, several bottles of bourbon and Scotch, and assorted spirits and craft beers. So, select another song on that jukebox for free, baby…
Dining times are fairly flexible: lunches are usually packed to take on expeditions, and if you request mealtimes in advance, the hotel will bend over backwards for you and maybe even do a flip – anything to accommodate you.
Ask, and ye shall be fed; plan any meals-in before you arrive.
Crested Butte (it means ‘a flat-topped hill’, children) is a teeny tiny, grid-set resort town sheltered by the Colorado Rocky Mountains. A town of gabled cabins, porches and picket fences, it’s really rather charming.
Gunnison, a small domestic airport, is the closest, but international flights arrive at Denver, a four-hour drive or one-hour connecting flight away. The Smith24 team can help to arrange transport on request.
The Rio Grande Railroad depot was once the nerve centre of Crested Butte’s coal-mining industry. But… (stares wistfully into the distance), trains don’t come through here no more. The nearest station is in Denver, but then you’ll face a four-hour road trip into the climbing roads of the Rockies.
The hotel’s remote location makes car hire essential (call the Smith24 team and we can book this for you). If you’re arriving from Denver, follow State Routes 285 and 50 to reach the town; the drive may be long, but you’re rewarded with the natural majesty of the Gunnison, and Pike and San Isabel National Forests – they’ll make your heart soar like a golden eagle. There’s free valet parking at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Sopris House is a short trot from the main street in town, Elk Avenue, a historic stretch lined with colourful false-front buildings and a few notable restaurants and saloons. Eleven Experience have their own shop if you want some active wear that’ll outshine your fellow outdoorsmen. You’ll certainly need an ensemble that lets you move – the hotel can arrange all manner of river deep, mountain high pursuits. To make use of Eleven Experience’s rugged (possibly more surefooted than mountain goats) guides – who are truly prepared for anything the wilds throw at you – and have adventures tailored to your tastes (no matter how specific), book the full package.
In winter: It’s highly likely that you’ll spend your stay on skis. Hit the piste or bomb through backcountry powder; if you’re accompanied by one of the highly trained ski-fanatic guides, they’ll know where to find pristine stashes and untouched snowy spots. The hotel’s Tucker Sno-Cat – kitted out with comfy seats and a TV – or helicopter will take you to the area’s hard-to-reach bits (such as Irwin, which has reliably heavy snowfalls); although you can feel a refreshing burst of cold-smoke powder sans boy-toys, too. There’s a average of eight-to-10 runs a day, followed by aprés ski drinks and snacks. You can also hire fat bikes for wintry rides.
In summer: Colorado isn’t a one-run kind of town; when the snow melts, it’s vividly green (later sporting a fiery fall look) and one vast playground. White-water rafting, hiking over slopes covered in Crested Butte’s famed wildflowers, fishing, paddle-boarding, rock-climbing, zip-lining, white-water rafting, and horse riding will take up most of your stay. Hop on a mountain bike to tackle the area’s rockier patches, or borrow one of the hotel’s stylish Townie bikes for on-road jaunts. This is the kind of getaway that just can’t stay still.
You’re in flavour country, so let’s hope those ski pants have some give. Elk Ave Prime leaves no animal unfilleted; its generous portions are slathered in chimichurri, served with a side of sausage, or aged for 28 days – there’s also the option to beef-up your salads (we approve). Secret Stash isn’t the name of one of those Colorado pit stops; this colourful pizzeria allegedly serves the ‘best pizzas in the world’ – and with offerings such as the Booty Call, which is topped with meat and cheese ad infinitum; and Buddha’s Belly (essentially a coconut curry atop dough), they’re no liars. Asian bistro Ryceserves delicious and flavoursome fare in portions that are approporiate to adventure holidays (you may want to take leftovers with you). For top-drawer burritos in a spit-and-sawdust setting, seek out the red frontage of Teocalli Tamale, a low-key, laid-back Mexican diner with a stellar rep on Elk Avenue.
Alcohol at this altitude ranges from craft rums to suds with your buds. The hotel even has its own pub and tap room, the Public House, mere steps from your residence. It copies Sopris House’s refined Americana, with mounts and antlers, gorgeous landscape photography and plenty of wood accents. Montanya Distillery on Elk Avenue specialises in the former; they source their sugar cane from a Louisiana farm, and after distilling add to some moreish cocktails mixed with local honey, coffee or some spicy jalapeño and chilli bitters. Pair with some arepas or a bowl of warming pho, then listen to a local bluegrass band in the tasting room. Pun-tastically named Butte 66 lies on a slope of Warming House Hill, and Eldo Brew Pub is a lively place where you can crack open a casual cold one.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this cosy mountain retreat in the Colorado Rockies and unpacked their pressed wildflowers and stopped affecting a southern accent, a full account of their active ski and hike break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Sopris House in the south of the US…
We want a little Colorado hideaway of our own – a cosy saloon-style stay filled with wooden doodads whittled from trees we hand-felled by axe; a l’il ole’ place where we can kick off our custom cowboy boots and hang our stetsons. So, we should thank our lucky Stars and Stripes for boutique hotel Sopris House, because our whittling skills and firearm knowledge are sketchy, and we wear lumberjack shirts ironically. Thankfully, this Eleven Experience stay has a more authentic mien than we do. Firstly, the 19th-century building once served as a saloon, owned by one Martin Spritzer (yes, really); secondly, it looks the part, with an antler chandelier, furry throws, a working jukebox (which doesn’t cost a dime) and, yes, a wall-mounted buffalo’s head representing for rustic Americana. Ercol-style Quaker dining chairs, a sophisticated paint palette and wrought-iron and reclaimed wooden pieces add a modern edge. Here, your MO is skiing and hiking, or scoping out the scene in Crested Butte – a seriously sweet mountain town, with rows of historic false-front shops and eateries; however, come summer you can go off-piste with white-water rafting and biking over the slopes, or just rambling through alternately emerald and russet flora. So, we pledge our allegiance to you, Sopris House, but – we have to confess – we also love thy neighbour, Scarp Ridge Lodge, so praise be that they can be booked as a pair.
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