Crystal blue water abuts the soft sand that leads to green forests in the warmer months. Peak after snow-capped mountain peak pierces bluebird skies in winter. A year-round destination, Tahoe—which refers to both a lake and a region—offers a range of hotels that cater to all four seasons, whether you’re in search of a secluded cabin, a lakeside retreat, or a mountain town lodge.
Tahoe can be delineated into three areas. First, there’s Lake Tahoe proper, the largest alpine lake in North America. Approximately 2 million years old, Lake Tahoe proffers 75 miles of shoreline spanning two states, California on the west, and Nevada on the east. Surrounded by a backdrop of steep Sierra Nevada apexes at an elevation of 6,225 feet, the lake is home to several native species of fish, including brown and rainbow trout, as well as Tahoe Tessie, a folkloric creature compared to the Loch Ness monster that’s beloved by locals.
South Lake Tahoe is the livelier, more developed, and more populated part. Four casinos add to the robust nightlife scene while the area’s proximity to the federally protected Desolation Wilderness, a sprawling subalpine and alpine forest, appeals to backcountry hikers. A trio of ski resorts presents a variety of terrain types while the lakeshore geography offers long sandy beaches. An hour’s drive north, North Lake Tahoe operates on “Tahoe time,” yielding a more laid-back experience. Secret rocky coves along the lake encourage exploration, and with 12 ski resorts, there’s no shortage of winter activity spots.
And for the mountain town–loving dog owners out there, we see you: Gravity Haus, Ritz-Carlton, and Desolation Hotel all allow your pup to check in, too.
Read on for five of Tahoe’s best hotels, which offer adventures in every season.
Gravity Haus Truckee-Tahoe
- Location: North Lake Tahoe (outside Truckee)
- Best time to go: Spring/Fall
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Eschewing the traditional mountain chalet ambiance—there’s nary a flannel pillow nor a taxidermied anything in sight—Gravity Haus Truckee-Tahoe aims for more industrial cabin panache. Think polished concrete floors, cinderblock walls, exposed wooden ceilings, and metal-ensconced fireplaces that radiate contemporary cool. Guests of the 41-room, pet-friendly hotel dwell in pragmatically laid-out spaces, each with a desk and separate seating area. But the true draw of this hotel is the promise of experiencing town like a local.
Part hotel, part membership and social club, Gravity Haus emphasizes and facilitates connection in common spaces. Guests can set up laptops and take calls in the coworking space, use the gym, and recover from a hike or a bike ride in the hot tub with like-minded residents and travelers. They have access to a stocked gear room for numerous outdoor pursuits—especially in the shoulder season when it’s not too hot, too cold, or too crowded. Enduro, trail, cross-country, and gravel bikes come from Specialized and Commencal, and the paddleboards and foldable kayaks are Oru Kayak. The hotel’s camping and hiking equipment includes trekking poles, tents, climbing gear, fly fishing poles, and camp stoves.
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
- Location: North Lake Tahoe
- Best time to go: Winter/Spring
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Set midmountain with ski-in/out privileges to Northstar California Resort (an extinct volcano once known as Mount Pluto), the 170-room Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe capitalizes on ease of entry. Epic Season Pass holders have ready access to Northstar’s 3,170 skiable acres, including eight terrain parks and 100 trails.
The Ritz-Carlton offers ski/snowboarding lessons (ask for Adrienne), snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sledding, tubing, and cross-country skiing directly out the resort’s doors. After a day on the slopes, warm up by one of the hotel’s numerous stone fireplaces—every guest room has at least one, and they’re scattered throughout the restaurants and lounges. Flaskology (ask for Yvonne) allows guests to perfect their flavor profiles and cocktail skills via an hour-long class with an in-house mixologist at Manzanita restaurant.
The 17,000-square-foot slope-side spa focuses on the juxtaposition of water and woods. The Ritz’s winter seasonal spa treatment, Journey Through the Forest, includes a full body exfoliation and private soaking tub, followed by a restorative massage.
Cedar Crest Cottages
- Location: Homewood, West Shore Lake Tahoe
- Best time to go: Fall
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Bring the whole family. Or all your friends. The nine-cottage, cedar tree–shaded Cedar Crest Cottages can sleep 40 people total, making it a perfect place for a reunion of any kind. Located midlake, the family-owned and -operated property was established in 1933 and renovated in 2015. Each of the cottages, with one to four bedrooms, is named for a bird. Muted color palettes and similar motifs, like wood and stone flooring, offer a visual guide plus a unique experience under every roof.
The idyllic setting away from both North and South Lake makes it possible to hear the morning birdsong without interruption and stand solo on the neighborhood beach. From dusty, glassy sunrises on the lake to après-hike sunsets around the firepits, Cedar Crest feels quaint without being forced. Marvel at the fall colors that peak in September or October, meander through wooded, old-growth forests, and stargaze straight from the lawn.
- Location: South Lake Tahoe
- Best time to go: Winter
- Book now
Named after Desolation Wilderness, the micro resort of Desolation Hotel is a sustainably designed retreat in South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Ski Resort that incorporates mindfully sourced furnishings with a smaller footprint. Any lumber not harvested from the site itself, for example, is Forest Stewardship Council certified. Architectural choices like strategically placed skylights reduce energy use and maximize natural light, while rooftop solar arrays help offset the hotel’s demand on the energy grid. In the past year, the hotel has raised more than $250,000 to support area initiatives, including schools, youth centers, environmentally focused nonprofits, fire victims and first responders, and the repair of trail systems.
Opened in August 2022, Desolation Hotel features several structures wrapped around existing trees and 31 EV charging stations, including one in each townhouse’s private garage (handy for when that snowfall is heavy). The design of the 21 tranquil, minimalist accommodations is inspired by Scandinavia and Japan. The thoughtful townhouse-style layouts use dark sky lighting.
Book a full moon snowshoe tour or glide onto Heavenly Ski Resort’s after-hours VIP ski run Sundays. Outdoor soaking tubs encourage stargazing, even when there’s snow on the ground. The on-site restaurant, Maggie’s, pays homage to Maggie McPeak, an explorer who ascended nearly every major western alpine summit. The cocktail list features beverages named after the dogs of staff members, and the can’t miss entrée is the elk loin roulade,pan-seared elk stuffed with chestnut, spinach, and garlic. Located in South Lake, the hotel is an easy walk to shops, the lake, cross-country trails, and sledding areas.
Edgewood Tahoe Resort
- Location: South Lake Tahoe
- Best time to go: Summer
- Book now
The 161 guest rooms, suites, and villa suites of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort face unobstructed views of Lake Tahoe and its 18-hole alpine golf course. Thanks to its lake-adjacent location and sprawling grounds, the hotel is well positioned for summertime activities, including kayak tours and MasterCraft boat rentals, movies on the green, disc golf introductory courses, and fly fishing. Take a dip in the refreshing lake, track a northern goshawk from your private balcony, or pop some fresh farmers’ market veggies onto the grill of your villa suite patio.
The Bistro Edgewood, one of the three dining options, embodies the casual contemporary atmosphere throughout the resort. Challenge yourself to find a wall without floor-to-ceiling windows. Meander into Spa Edgewood, which offers a comprehensive menu of services rooted in crystals and energy therapies, or select from a detailed menu of facial treatments.
Refined yet relaxed, Edgewood prioritizes thoughtfulness throughout one’s stay. Have a favorite item? Perhaps the hand-blended tea from breakfast or the jelly beans from the spa? More often than not it accompanies turndown.