One of the great aspects of the Lake Tahoe region is that you can find whatever lodging your are looking for in a getaway. Running the gamut from rustic basic to over-the-top opulent, these inns, lodges, motels, hotels, chalets and cabins are sprinkled generously around the shores of Big Blue and in the surrounding mountains and valleys.
The following are three properties that highlight the disparate choices of accommodations one can find in the Tahoe area.
Lost Trail Lodge (530-320-9268) is not only off the beaten path, it's off the grid. Located in Coldstream Canyon a few miles south of Donner Lake, the solar-powered Lost Trail Lodge takes some work getting to – either by skis or snowshoes in the winter or via a rock-and-dirt fire road in the dry months – but it's worth the effort.
The five-room lodge is the epitome of back-country luxury: Each room comes with a Jacuzzi tub; the central hall/gathering area has comfy furnishings and a wealth of entertainment options (except TV), and the modern kitchen– everyone cooks for themselves here]– is equipped for any gastronomical adventure. As for the outdoor kind of adventure, the skiing, snowshoeing and ice-climbing options are seemingly unlimited, and when the snow's gone, you can hike, mountain bike or horseback ride to your heart's content.
Sorensen's (530-694-2203), a collection of about 30 cabins tucked into the east end of Hope Valley, has some of the mountain-rustic ambience of Lost Trail Lodge but it's much easier to get to.
The accommodations range from single-bedroom cabins to three-bedroom "houses" and most have full kitchens or kitchenettes. But you don't have to cook yourself; the Hope Valley Cafe and Market is a short walk down the road and the bright lights of South Lake Tahoe are a half-hour away by car.
But what makes Sorensen's special is that it's a wonderful base camp for a Sierra sojourn any time of year: Kirkwood ski/snowboard resort is 14 miles to the west; there are abundant snowshoeing, cross-country and dog-sledding trails in the Hope Valley; fly fishing the West Fork of the Carson River can be extremely rewarding, and autumn leaf peeping – the property is nestled in an aspen grove – is a signature calling card of the resort.
West Shore Cafe and Inn (530-525-5200) is a rather mundane name for an exquisite piece of lakeside property.
Located across the road from the base of Homewood Mountain Resort and hard by the azure waters of Lake Tahoe, the West Shore Cafe and Inn is a collected of four suites – each with expansive views of Big Blue – that ooze creature comforts: Gas fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, leather sectionals, Jacuzzi tubs, writing desks and mini-fridges (there are also two smaller guest rooms with a few of the aforementioned accouterments). The appointments are mountain modern and the walls in the hallways and rooms are adorned with black-and-white photos of old Tahoe.
If the Inn part of the property sounds nice, the Cafe part is exceptional. The kitchen staff, under the direction of executive chef Rusty Jacobs, produce dishes featuring seasonal produce, seafoods and meats that are California grown and harvested. The outdoor deck, part of which juts into the lake, is one of the better spots to have a leisurely lunch or late-afternoon cocktail.