The Minturn Inn enjoys its low-key setting in the oft-overlooked gem of Minturn, a mining town turned authentic mountain community, located between the ski resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek. Guests will dig the location, too—the inn and its newer River Lodge building back up to the banks of the rushing Eagle River. Innkeepers Susan and Matt Morrison will steer you toward the right accommodations for your party, but both the main inn (built in 1915) and the new lodge (finished in 2000) offer rooms with hewn log beds, antler chandeliers, fireplaces, and plush down comforters. The staff at the inn is happy to guide you around their little mountain town, sending you to local spots like the Minturn Saloon, where Doc Holliday once imbibed.
Highlight The inn offers spa treatments on-site, including hot stone massages and facials. If you’re staying at the inn with your sweetie, schedule a couple’s massage for a romantic—and time-saving—treat.
Best Room The Two Elk Creek room ($199-$279) in the River Lodge has a king-size bed, fireplace, Jacuzzi tub, and extraordinary views of the Eagle River and Vail Mountain from a private deck.
Info 442 Main St., Minturn, 970-827-9647, www.minturninn.com
Bear Paw Inn—Winter Park Highlands
The definition of cozy, Winter Park’s intimate Bear Paw Inn may not be big, but it’s long on Rocky Mountain charm. From a warm spot in front of the roaring stone fireplace, guests can look out over Rocky Mountain National Park and the Continental Divide, stunning snow-covered geography that beckons visitors outside for snowshoeing, tubing, dog-sledding, snowmobiling, and downhill skiing at Winter Park Resort. Back at the inn, though, queen-size, down-comforter-heavy beds call from the Bear Paw’s two guestrooms—each one a welcome respite after a day in the cold. In the morning, guests take coffee in bed before sauntering to the dining room to enjoy spreads that often include items such as French toast, omelets, huevos rancheros, buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote, or sour cream Belgian waffles with Vermont maple syrup.
Highlight The Hot Sulphur Springs mineral baths (www.hotsulphursprings.com) are a short drive from the Bear Paw Inn. With more than 20 pools of varying temperatures, these 140-year-old springs make for a relaxing end to a long day outdoors.
Best Room There are only two to choose from, but given the choice, pick the Master Bedroom ($205-$235) for the private entrance and deck.
Info 871 Bear Paw Drive, Winter Park Highlands, 970-887-1351, www.bearpaw-winterpark.com
Stonehaven Inn Bed and Breakfast—Divide
Perched on the western slope of Pikes Peak, surrounded by nothing but wilderness, the Stonehaven Inn feels isolated and remote—until you meet innkeepers Janis and Ferrel Minick. Offering warm smiles, attention to detail, and friendly conversation in their river-rock and hand-peeled-log abode, the Minicks’ brand of hospitality includes customized breakfasts, homemade snacks like cookies and cakes that are available throughout the day, and a comfortable ambience that makes visitors simply want to hang around and decompress. Of course, if guests would rather venture outside, the surrounding landscape offers plenty of hiking trails brimming with local wildlife like deer, fox, mountain birds, elk, and black bear. Or, for a more “urban” outing, visit the nearby town of Cripple Creek for shopping, dining, or a quick hand of blackjack.
Highlight Sitting or reading a book on the inn’s porch, which overlooks Rainbow Valley’s pine forests, makes for a perfect lazy-afternoon activity. But if it’s a little nippy outside, the hot tub is the best seat in the house.
Best Room The Africa room’s ($110-$125) four-poster canopy bed may inspire romance, but the convenience of the kids’ loft makes this room a no-brainer for families.
Info 1815 Calcite Drive, Divide, 719-686-0833, www.stonehaven-innbnb.com
Fresh and Wyld Farmhouse Inn—Paonia
The best reason to go to Paonia, a sleepy agricultural town southwest of Glenwood Springs, is for the locally produced wine. The second-best reason is to eat a meal and spend the night at the Fresh and Wyld Farmhouse Inn. One of the most anticipated meals of your trip to the Western Slope will be breakfast at this 101-year-old inn. No matter what time of year it is, Dava Parr, Fresh and Wyld’s owner and chef, cooks fresh, local ingredients that are either picked from the garden or hoop houses on the inn’s grounds or sourced from local farms. A late-fall breakfast might look like this: elk or buffalo sausages; stewed apples; skillet hash with potatoes, garlic, and squash; and hot-from-the-oven loaves of savory pumpkin bread. Staying the night at Fresh and Wyld means quintessential bed-and-breakfast-style rooms (read: quiet, quaint, and small), but the beautiful gardens, on-site gallery, worth-a-look boutique, and, of course, the meals are anything but typical.
Highlight If you can’t stay the night at the farmhouse, make a reservation for chef Dava Parr’s Fridays at the Farmhouse Dinner, a communal-style, home-cooked meal made from organic and locally grown food. Dinners start at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays year-round. Or try Parr’s Thanksgiving dinner (Nov. 26, 2009)—a feast of local turkeys, stuffing, root veggies, garlic mashers, and pies.
Best Room The new king suite ($145; 25 percent off in winter months) used to be the old innkeeper’s apartment, but Parr refurbished it to include a king-size bed, private bath, living room, and kitchen.
Info 1978 Harding Road, Paonia, 970-527-4374, www.freshandwyldinn.com
West Elk Lodge and Ranch—Crawford
What was once a simple refuge for the elk-hunting set has recently become a vacation destination for anyone who revels in the great outdoors. Nestled into the West Elk Wilderness Area—more than 175,000 acres of all-out Colorado splendor—the new West Elk Lodge and Ranch is a 20,000-square-foot ponderosa log structure that will surpass your typical dude-ranch-slash-hunting-lodge expectations. With marble flooring, hand-chiseled fireplaces, 400-count sheets on handcrafted aspen beds, and spectacular views from every room, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill man cave. Maybe more amazing than the decor, though, is the fact that West Elk, which just opened this past June, is completely eco-friendly. Solar energy keeps the floors warm and the hot tubs hot, and thermal materials like native stone siding and 16-inch logs keep the heat where it’s supposed to be—inside—so you’ll be toasty no matter how much snow there is outside. The ranch hopes to one day offer only weeklong dude ranch-style stays, but until word gets out the owners are offering shorter stays.
Highlight Horseback riding along nearly 160 miles of trails in the West Elk Wilderness Area, the fifth-largest wilderness area in Colorado. Not sure-handed with the reins? No problem. West Elk guides can give you a refresher course. Or, for the holiday season, the lodge offers a horse-drawn sleigh ride, complete with jingle bells.
Best Room Reserve one of the rooms on the top floor of the main lodge (currently $150), all of which have king beds, Posturepedic-style mattresses, Italian travertine tile, and private balconies.
Info 4444 E. 50 Drive, Crawford, 970-921-3557, www.westelklodge.com
Hotel Chateau Chamonix—Georgetown
Georgetown might not be the first place you’d look for a touch of European elegance, but that’s exactly what the Hotel Chateau Chamonix delivers. Dressed in dark woods, marbles, and neutral tones, the hotel’s interior feels decidedly Old World—which was the goal for manager Tom Wilson and owner Marie-Claude Williams, who hails from France. The aesthetics are pleasing, but it’s the innkeepers’ warm personalities that create a truly inviting atmosphere. To wit: Upon guests’ arrival, complimentary glasses of wine appear promptly with a smile (and a lovely French accent if Marie-Claude is around). The rooms only enhance the feeling that visitors have stumbled upon a slice of the French Alps in the Rockies. Crisp white duvets cover king-size beds—cozy spots to read a book, listen to Clear Creek through open patio doors, or take a delivered-to-your-room breakfast of coffee, fruit, and croissants.
Highlight Just a few blocks’ walk from the hotel, the Euro Grill (1025 Rose St., 303-569-2126) offers a way to further your mini-European vacation. You can’t go wrong with a plate of authentic schnitzel with mashed potatoes and sweet-and-sour cabbage.
Best Room Reserve one of the three rooms with a private two-person hot tub on the outdoor patio, which overlooks the creek.
Info 1414 Argentine St., Georgetown, 303-569-1109, www.hotelchateauchamonix.com
Arbor House Inn—South Fork
Keith and Laurie Bratton—a jovial, spirited couple tailor-made for life in Colorado—bought the Arbor House Inn property in 1999, did extensive renovations, and then opened what has become one of Colorado’s sweetest little riverside inns. Settled on 400 feet of riverfront along the South Fork of the Rio Grande, the Arbor House looks and feels more like home than your typical bed-and-breakfast: No tchotchkes clutter the space, comfortable furniture replaces stiff antiques, and the innkeepers adhere to a we’re-here-if-you-need-us philosophy that eliminates the feeling that you’re living in their home. All of that allows guests to simply enjoy the large river-adjacent patio and hot tub, the snug guestrooms, and the sublime breakfasts of French toast, crêpes, freshly baked breads, breakfast tostadas with salsa, or Rocky Mountain scrambled eggs.
Highlight The Arbor House Inn is located just 20 minutes from Wolf Creek ski area—a must-try Colorado ski experience. If downhill’s not your thing, check out the miles and miles of cross-country skiing trails that wind their way through the area.
Best Room The Lovin’ Oven ($165) is the inn’s equivalent of a honeymoon suite, but anyone will enjoy the fireplace, in-room whirlpool tub for two, private entrance, and direct access onto the backyard deck.
Info 31358 West Highway 160, South Fork, 719-873-5012, www.arborhouseinnco.com