Mountains are never far from mind – or view – at TheSebastian – Vail hotel. Ideal for stylish skiers, bikers and outdoor adventurers in every season, this heart-of-Vail-Village hotel has a superlative spa and a restaurant that specialises in scenic views, great wine and hearty, locally sourced dishes to fuel you for the next day’s activities.
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One-day bike rentals for two with summer stays, or a one-day ski rental package for one with winter stays
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £208.99 ($279), including tax at 9.8 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of $44.00 per room per night on check-out.
The daily resort fee ($40 a room, each night) includes an in-town car service, WiFi and ski valet. Rates exclude breakfast (buffet from $38).
At the hotel
Spa, gym, library, DVD library, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, minibar, iPod dock, snacks and fresh fruit, bottled water, Bloom Spa bath products. Guests are given a house-made sweet treat at turn-down.
Our favourite rooms
It’s worth upgrading to a Residential Suite at the Sebastian, particularly if you arrive laden with snow gear. Each comes with a fully equipped kitchen, dining area, a washer and dryer, a balcony and a cosy, comfortable living room for unwinding after a long day on the slopes. Each has a nice view, but the gas fireplace is most inviting in rooms overlooking the snow-capped mountains.
The heated outdoor pool is surrounded by sunloungers and four hot tubs, all with mountain views.
Inspired by the Colorado wilderness, Bloom Spa has mastered the ideal antidotes to a day on the slopes. Treatments include Swedish, Thai and river-stone massages; oxygen treatments to help with altitude adjustments; and the Après, a post-exercise muscle-relaxing specialty that combines hot towels and massages.
No need to lug your ski equipment on holiday. Base Camp, at the foot of the mountain, has rental gear for skiing, snowboarding and biking.
Smiths of all ages are welcome. The hotel has an entertainment room for little ones and a daily activities club for older children, and can arrange babysitting for $25 an hour. Cribs and Pack 'n' Plays are available at no extra charge.
Over fives who can enjoy the great outdoors.
Residential Suites are available with up to four bedrooms; each has a full kitchen and separate dining area. Be sure to let the hotel know if your little ones go for blue or pink bedding: the hotel has special sheets and blankets for both boys and girls.
The unsupervised Tykes Room is a play area for children, with a chalkboard wall, a theater stage and a selection of books and games.
In addition to taking advantage of skiing, snowboarding, hiking and biking, children ages seven through 12 can enroll in Battle Mountain Kids Camp. The supervised programme leads kids into nature with field trips, games, crafts, cooking lessons and other activities that rotate daily. In winter months, supervised activities such as making hand-puppets and snow slime, and finger knitting are held.
The heated swimming pool has a shallow end and a gate, but no lifeguard or floats to borrow. Two of the hot tubs are adults-only.
Market is very child-friendly, with high chairs available and dishes like burgers, fish and chips and cheese flatbreads that would appeal to young palates. In-rooms, the minibars come equipped with fruit, juice and water.
No need to pack
The library and DVD library have plenty to keep little ones occupied.
The Sebastian – Vail has all the makings for an instant winter wonderland. The hotel can provide s’mores kits, all the props to build a snowman or everything kids will need for a movie night.
Snag a table on the patio for cocktail hour in the warm summer months. In the winter, request an intimate round booth near the wine tower.
Your frost-repelling finest: Leonora is one of the hottest spots in town, so furs and cashmere won’t be out of place.
A 1,000-bottle wine tower is like a merlot mountain at the centre of Leonora, the Sebastian’s main restaurant and tapas bar. One of the region’s best dining options, Leonora serves a continental mix of dishes, including crudo, empanadas, tapas and warming entrees like farro risotto, pork belly and fried chicken and the sommelier’s extensive list has been crafted to perfectly pair with the international flavours.
Decorated with icicles, smoky blue lighting and dark wood, the wintery Frost bar takes full advantage of its location, pouring excellent Scotch, local microbrews and craft cocktails. Light lunches are served here too.
Hours change seasonally, but Frost bar is typically open from 12 noon to 11pm; Breakfast is served on the Upper Lobby Level from 7am to 11am, and Leonora serves dinner from 5.30 to 10pm.
Both Frost and Leonora can provide food from their full menus during typical dining hours; a limited menu of sandwiches, salads and entrees is available 24 hours day.
The Sebastian – Vail is conveniently located in the centre of Vail Village – prime positioning for hitting the slopes or exploring the town.
The nearest airport is Eagle Vail, a 35-minute drive from the hotel. Two hours from the hotel, Denver International Airport is the largest area hub, with flights available from around the world, including New York (www.united.com), London (www.ba.com) and Los Angeles (www.southwest.com).
Those who’d like to explore beyond Vail Village would do best hiring a car. Car hire kiosks are abundant at Denver Airport; in winter, SUVs with four-wheel drive are advisable. The hotel is just off the I-70 highway and parking is $32 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
There are plenty of ways to take advantage of the snow in Vail. The Sebastian’s slope-side ‘adventure concierge’ at Base Camp cuts the time from room to the Gondola One lift, outfitting aspiring skiers and snowboarders with gear. As a bonus, the staff provide a valet service to help haul heavy equipment. The hotel can also arrange sledding, skating and other wintery activities.
Come spring, the town is ideal for biking, tennis, hiking and golf. The hotel can arrange bike rentals from Base Camp or help set up reservations for golf and tennis. Further afield, Colorado has some of the best rapids on the continent. Colorado Adventure Center can arrange day trips for all experience levels on the Colorado or Blue rivers.
Once you’re back, unwind from natural pursuits at Bloom Spa, which has a sauna and steam rooms for heat-seekers, and plenty of treatments that are perfect for soothing sore muscles in any season.
Channelling camp-side cookouts, hip tavern Mountain Standard (+1 970 476 0123), a short stroll from the hotel on Gore Creek Drive, prepares most of its dishes over an open wood fire. Start with roasted olives, grilled oysters and a salad of wood-fired carrots, then try Colorado lamb or trout from local streams. The cocktail menu borrows a page from the kitchen’s playbook: homemade charred-tomato bloody mary mix forms the smoky base for the classic brunch beverage. Since the late 1970s, Mountain Standard’s sibling, Sweet Basil (+1 970 476 0125), has served some of the best food in the state, with a focus on upscale American preparations often using local ingredients, like venison carpaccio with juniper-scented cream, and hanger steak with Colorado potatoes. Satisfy your alpine appetite at The Alpenrose (+1 970 476 8899), a retro, chalet-inspired restaurant that specialises in hearty Eastern European dishes, including goulash, schnitzel and kraut.
Though it’s open all day, Westside Café (+1 970 476 7890) is best at breakfast, when the kitchen serves rib-sticking classics that are ideal for fueling up for a day on the mountain. French toast is dredged in Captain Crunch cereal, omelets are packed with ham, vegetables and cheese, and pancakes are sprinkled with raspberries, chocolate or a pineapple-brown sugar topping. Ski into lunch at The 10th, an on-mountain restaurant at the base of the Look Ma run (+1 970 754 1010). Serving what it calls 'Modern Alpine' cuisine, the lunch and dinner spot offers dishes like pizzas topped with roasted forest mushrooms, and a hickory-smoked French dip sandwich, and elk Bolognese, along with a concise kids’ menu. Though most diners ski in, the restaurant is accessible by Gondola One. Antler chandeliers set the scene at Bully Ranch, a Western-style tavern and burger joint (+1 970 479 5429). Choose between well-seasoned buffalo or beef patties for the burgers, and finish the meal with sides of spicy pork chili or corn chowder.
When you’re on a shorter ski break and whizzing down the slopes is your priority, you want a trip that’s both fuss-free and as cosy as can be – well, luxury hotel the Sebastian – Vail provided exactly the kind of ski-in, ski-out experience I was hoping for. This large, modern lodge, set in one of Colorado’s eminent resorts, sits amid sparkling Alpine scenery. Within, you’re greeted by a cavernous lobby with an antler chandelier sparkling overhead and a lit fireplace in the background – an inviting sight.
Rooms have eschewed fur throws and log cladding for a more contemporary and simplistic look of muted hues and elegant furnishings. They’re comfortable, but not so luxe that you’ll be tempted to stay in all day. I’ll admit this was definitely not the sort of experience I had at this hotel, instead I found it to be more of a functional ski hotel, perfect for inspiring an early start to a day on the piste and for crashing in after a long day of slaloming and après-ski socialising. Our room was on the smaller size, too, but cosseting enough, with a soft bed, the sort of hideaway I might not necessarily stay at for a full week but perfectly serviceable for a three- or four-night stay.
In fact, my fellow Smith and I ended up eating at the blue-hued bar at the Sebastian on both the nights we were there, which speaks to the fact that there’s definitely a fun scene – with its tucked-away corners and convivial rows of stools, it’s a great perch to camp out in and people watch – after all, Vail is known for its glamorous denizens. This, combined with a menu of hearty comfort food, can lure you in for hours. The food portions were large enough to fuel you up for the next day, I especially enjoyed the Sebastian burger and its side of truffle fries – just the right amount of indulgence. If you’re into a lively, late-night bar scene, this is the hotel for you. As a skier I was thrilled to find a vivacious crowd, but, that being said, as a guest I found it a little irksome, especially when there’s early morning skiing ahead and when there are few seats to be had – I’d advise booking ahead. Another thing we noticed, which we found quite charming, is that the bartender was also a server at breakfast in the morning, making our stay feel a bit like being a cast member of Cheers!
The journey to and from the ski mountain was actually one of the hotel’s highlights. We found the shuttles super easy to use and quick – no muss, no fuss. The team at the Sebastian understand that you’re eager to get to and from the slopes fast, without a wait. And, the hotel is ideally located right in the heart of the town, so you can stroll its pretty streets, pick up high-end gear in the upmarket shops and check out the local dining scene, a tasty mix of burrito and burger joints, Germanic delicacies and the fine sushi at Nobu offshoot Matsuhisa.
Back at the hotel you can soothe ski-wearied limbs with a soak in an alfresco hot tub, or swim a few laps and work out some knots in the open-air pool. Don’t expect too much privacy, much like at the bar, there’s a lively poolside scene too, an excellent reason to pack plenty of pose-ready swimwear. Our stay was on the shorter side, so I didn’t get to try the spa, but it’s certainly an asset, and word of mouth is that it’s very good. With its extensive menu of altitude-adjusting oxygen treatments, CBD-infused massages, pedicures paired with wine and even a few facial enhancements, I’m inclined to believe the word on the street, and a little sorry that my stay wasn’t longer.
All in all, the Sebastian is a great hotel for the convenience of skiing, living and eating in Vail. Function is the word that comes to mind when I think of this property, which – while not the sexiest descriptor – is not something to be undervalued when it comes to being a die-hard skier.