Seven Spacious Stays to Embrace the Wonders of Winter
As a familiar chill takes to the air and the first snowflakes begin to fall, it’s a signal that the snowy days of winter are just around the corner. One of the most magical times of year, with an array of cultural celebrations on the calendar, it’s likely that festivities this year may need to be slightly reimagined for many. Also considering the increase in endorsements since the start of the pandemic from global travelers on Booking.com for hiking (94%), clean air (50%), nature (44%) and relaxation (33%)*, embracing the icy beauty of nature with a nearby outdoor escape within driving distance might just be the perfect cure for those annual winter blues.
With a mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, Booking.com has recently introduced an updated search experience to include filters for travelers looking for private, whole home accommodations. And with more than 13,199 rental car pick-up locations in the U.S., Booking.com also makes it easy for everyone to find the right vehicle for them, whether that’s an SUV with four-wheel drive to navigate snowy mountain roads or just a more spacious ride to accommodate the entire group. No matter what kind of socially-distanced wintery getaway you might have in mind, from a large vacation home near the slopes to an idyllic lodge in the woods that’s perfect for simply recharging and reconnecting with those in your trusted ‘bubble’, there’s a fantastic, local stay to help everyone make the most of this frosty time of year, whenever it’s safe to explore.
Black Rock Ridge, Ucluelet, Canada
Located on a peninsula of the same name on the western coast of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, Ucluelet is a picturesque four-hour drive from Victoria or a five-hour drive from bustling Vancouver, including a ferry journey across the Strait of Georgia. This beautiful home is ideal for a relaxing stay for the family or a group of friends, including enormous two-story windows in the massive living room, perfect for taking in panoramic views of the area’s craggy inlets and pine-topped peaks. While snow is not guaranteed, there are plenty of hiking trails to take in the stunning scenery and local wildlife. Afterwards, guests can warm up by one of the many fireplaces and truly unplug.
“The property is amazing! Gorgeous views, especially the sunset! Also, the facilities are amazing, beds are comfy, the house is fully equipped, the building complex is amazing, and lots of wildlife roaming around! The grocery and liquor stores are very close by, and there is plenty of parking. Best place to stay in Ukie!” - Luis, Canada
Vildmarks Lodge, Sweden
Nothing says winter in Scandinavia like soaking in an outdoor hot tub overlooking a frozen lake or jumping from a sizzling hot sauna into a snowdrift. Both experiences can be yours in the small, but scenic village of Ytterhogdal, a five-hour drive almost straight north of Stockholm. A secluded homebase to recharge, it’s surrounded by the unspoiled, rustic landscapes of north-central Sweden, with numerous lakes and forests that are home to reindeer, moose and beavers. If chillaxing to those stunning lake views starts to give you and your crew a case of cabin fever, the ski slopes of Vemdalen are only an hour drive away. Or if you prefer to explore the surrounding snowy woods by foot, Sonfjället National Park is a pretty 30-minute drive from the lodge.
“What an amazing place to stay. Quiet and beautiful surroundings. Much to discover, in nature and a great holiday house. The owners are very friendly, hospitable and nothing is too much to ask. They really go the extra mile. This was our last stop of our 2 week road trip through Sweden. And this was by far one of the biggest highlights of our trip. An asset to Northern Sweden. Highly recommended and we will definitely come back!” - JP, Sweden
Circle Chalets Arlberg, Lech am Arlberg, Austria
For those who find hitting the slopes essential for a wonderful winter break, this snowy retreat in the exclusive resort area of Lech am Arlberg in western Austria is ideal. A gorgeous 90-minute drive from Innsbruck through the dramatic contours of the Austrian alps, these beautiful, rustic-chic chalets make for the perfect cold-weather hideaway, including all-important ski-to-door access and a terrace to enjoy the crisp mountain air, along with staggering vistas of the surrounding peaks. And for those who are all tuckered out after a day of winter sports, the property’s private chef service can whip up a hearty meal to enjoy together around the large, communal dining table, warmed by a roaring fire.
“Absolutely everything was perfect! Spacious and comfortable chalet, very private and with amazing surroundings. The food we ordered was very tasty as well. The staff were there to accommodate all of our requests. We had everything we could have thought of! Thank you Anna, and the team, for the amazing weekend! - Guest from Austria
Salt Winds, Isle of Skye, UK
Offering breathtaking vistas out over Loch Bay, this spacious retreat is located in the small village of Stein in the northwest corner of Scotland’s idyllic Isle of Skye. After a spectacular six hour drive from Glasgow along the iconic banks of Loch Lomond and winding through the dramatic landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, guests arrive at this modern, hillside escape. With space to safely accommodate up to six people, the luxurious home’s enormous open-plan living space is perfect for enjoying vivid sunsets over the bay along with a wee dram of whiskey in front of the fire. Alternatively, thanks to its secluded location and lack of urban light pollution, it’s also a spectacular spot for stargazing, with a chance to glimpse the elusive purple and green hues of the Northern Lights - a truly unique winter treat. Apart from the celestial delights on offer, the village also makes for a lovely homebase to explore the epic landscapes, walking paths and bucolic fishing villages for which this gem of the Inner Hebrides is famed.
“Wow! Luxury all the way. Top quality finishings, everything you could need for a brilliant stay - fully stocked kitchen, including a few food basics, cleaning products, towels, blankets etc. It felt like living in a proper home not just getting by in a rental. We’d move in tomorrow if we could! Breathtaking views from every room. A joy to spend time here. We hope to come back.” - Rochford, UK
Les Granges d'en Haut - Chamonix Les Houches, Rhône-Alps, France
Nothing says indulgence quite like soaking in a hot tub enjoying views of the magnificent Mont Blanc as snowflakes fall gently on your forehead. Only an hour drive away from Geneva and two and half hours from Lyon, the Alpine wonderland of Les Houches is a wintery dream come true. Even for groups who don’t want to spend all of their time on these sensational slopes, this chic chalet is sure to charm even the most discerning member of the entourage. Wrapped in a cozy sweater, with another log on the fire and a fresh glass of champagne - this mountain getaway is ideal for those wanting a lush, if momentary escape, once the time is right again.
“It is very high-end, the chalet is magnificent, fully equipped, the decoration is very neat. This weekend, we had the wellness area just for us: Swimming pool, spa, jacuzzi, hammam ... It was fabulous. And even, in the chalet, we had a private hammam if needed. The staff couldn't do enough for us. If you are looking for a small, quiet stay out of season, do not hesitate.”- Bruno, France
Country Resort Niseko, Niseko, Japan
For those looking to spend time and reconnect with family or friends, these spacious holiday homes in Niseko are rooomy enough to accommodate up to 12 people. Japan’s most famous ski resort is less than a two-hour drive from Sapporo and about two-and-a-half-hour drive from New Chitose Airport. Guests can chill out in the sleek, lofted minimalist living room and enjoy the peaceful, powdery views of the surrounding countryside. Highly endorsed by Booking.com travelers for winter sports, nature and relaxation, the ski resort of Niseko is also popular for its proximity to a number of hot springs (onsens), thanks to the volcanic activity in the surrounding area. In fact, the Niseko Annupuri Onsen Yugokoro-tei is only a 12-minute drive away and a peaceful place to relax after a day on the slopes.
“It was a wonderful building. I stayed with 11 relatives, but it was large enough and I could stay comfortably without getting crowded.” - Guest from Japan
Seesaw's Lodge, Vermont, USA
For those who want a more active vacay surrounded by the picturesque snowy woods and mountains of southern Vermont, these spacious cottages are a marvelous match. Set in Peru, a small town in Bennington County, about a four-and-a-half-hour drive northwest from Boston, these traditional wooden cottages are surrounded by a picture-perfect wintery wonderland. After hiking or skiing across the beautiful frosty countryside, guests can curl up on the couch with a good book, warmed by the friendly glow of the wood-burning stove.
“Location is perfect: 1 minute by car from the Bromley Mountain ski resort. Couldn't be easier. The room was great, very cozy and cute, with a nice view. Breakfast is self-service and is easy: pastries and coffee. Other guests were very friendly (mostly families). Overall it was a very nice stay. Looking forward to going back.” - Raphael, USA
*Based on endorsements left on Booking.com as part of post-stay reviews. Insight based on endorsements that saw the biggest increase in monthly usage between 1st April 2020 and 11th September 2020, compared to the average monthly endorsements between January 2019 and February 2020.
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