An elite handful of local establishments with a variety of flavors

Salt Lake Valley, like most of the Intermountain West, has a vast amount of national brand, and oft mundane hotels. But what about those wishing to find something unique or locally-owned? And those who want to break away from these mundane guestrooms and faceless lobbies? Amongst its prolific chain hotels - packed together, and lining the interstates – Salt Lake City nevertheless holds a collection of boutique establishments. And, though they're fewer and farther between than their familiar, nationally-owned siblings, they do exist. A word of warning, though: the Salt Lake Valley itself only contains about half a dozen of these. But supplementing these is a number of wonderful and varied hotels, situated at the ski areas of the Wasatch Mountains.

Those preferring to stick to the valley floor will find that the entire collection of Salt Lake City's boutique hotels is centrally located downtown. If you're looking for the highest level of fine, European-style lodging, the Grand America should be your first choice. Salt Lake's only five-diamond hotel, this offers the finest in guestrooms and guest services. If you're good with “just” four diamonds, and think you might want to save some cash, head across the street to its sister, the Little America. Those looking to break away from traditional décor and services should head a bit north to the Hotel Monaco. This fun and funky hotel provides petless guests with a goldfish to keep them company.

And don't discount the hotels at the mountain resorts. These fabulous options enjoy gorgeous surroundings and, because of the interstate beltway encircling Salt Lake City, they stand just 20-30 minutes away.


Alta Peruvian Lodge
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

If you're looking to book a hotel in Little Cottonwood Canyon, you'll find the Peruvian to be one of the area's most charming and historic lodging options. In operation for more than 60 years, the Peruvian opened its doors in 1948. Since that time, it has maintained a traditional ski lodge essence. Its alpine accents, wooden furniture, and simple guestroom décor exude welcoming charm. If you've come for winter or summer recreation, you'll appreciate the sturdy feel of the Peruvian, and won't feel uncomfortable if your day's adventures leave you a bit sweaty. This hotel is ideal for those who value the beauty of the Wasatch Mountains, yet don't wish to unload a serious amount of cash on ultra-posh accommodations.

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Lodge at Snowbird
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

Snowbird Resort is perhaps the most famous of all in the immediate vicinity of Salt Lake City. This resort - with 2,000 acres, 3,240 feet of vertical rise, and a tram covering nearly this entire stretch in one shot - is a powerhouse of varied and challenging terrain. Needless to say, this massive ski area has numerous guest facilities nestled into its base area. The Lodge at Snowbird is a condominium property, perfect for couples on vacation, families, and groups of friends. Built in 1971, The Lodge underwent a comprehensive renovation in 2004 that completely modernized its facilities. The Lodge Bistro, located in the hotel, serves American cuisine with a French accent.

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The Cliff Lodge Snowbird
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

This incredible and enormous hotel dominates the Snowbird Resort base area. With numerous restaurants, spa facilities, and shops, this is a virtual city in and of itself. Its most famous restaurant, the award-winning, Aerie, occupies its 10th floor, and has more than 950 selections of wine. This restaurant itself is enough to draw people up-canyon during any time of year. But in any season, the Lodge itself provides enough of an excuse to escape the city and enjoy the stunning vistas of Little Cottonwood Canyon's upper stretches. The Cliff Lodge has a few random claims to fame: firstly, it holds North America's largest collection of oriental rugs. And in June of 1988, it hosted the nation's first International Sport Climbing Championship, with competitors ascending via a sparse selection of plastic holds affixed to its exterior walls.

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Alta Lodge
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

Guests looking for boutique accommodations outside of the city should consider booking at the Rustler Lodge. Located at the base of the world-famous ski area, Alta, this stands near the very top of the beautiful Little Cottonwood Canyon. This dramatic canyon, eroded by glaciation, is a steep, U-shaped notch in the Wasatch Mountains, lined with sheer white cliffs of quartz monzonite - a close cousin to granite. The Rustler Lodge itself is the finest at Alta, and arguably the same in all of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Staying in any of its 85 rooms, you'll enjoy ski-in, ski-out access to the mountain's more than 500 inches of average annual snowfall. This elegant mountain lodge has a steam room, jacuzzi, heated outdoor pool, ski shop, restaurants, morning stretching classes, and massage services. However, if you're a snowboarder, you should book at Snowbird; Alta has a strict, “skiers only” rule.

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The Metropolitan Inn
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

One of Salt Lake City's newer boutique hotels, the Metropolitan Inn is a tiny, locally-owned budget hotel just a few blocks south of Temple Square. For its location, the price is hard to beat. One of Salt Lake's quirkier hotels, this three-story hotel is a rather dolled up version of a standard hotel, beginning with an art deco mural on its exterior. Don't expect a massive campus of amenities at the Metropolitan; rather, this low-cost facility specializes on providing a good night's sleep for a low cost. This is a great place for those into checking out something new, while avoiding the high costs of downtown's luxury accommodations. Sleep in a clean room with a tempurpedic bed, and spend your day exploring the city.

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Whether you're coming to Salt Lake to check out Temple Square, to visit friends, or to do business, the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel has an ideal location for your trip, right at Temple Square. By design, this is the very center of Salt Lake City, filled not only with cultural and historical points of interest, but also surrounded by commerce, dining, entertainment venues, and nightlife. Those traveling to Salt Lake for a conference could not find a closer bed to the Salt Palace Convention Center, which stands just across the street from the Plaza Hotel. Though the accommodations here are not of the utmost luxury, they are nevertheless high-end. Rooms are tastefully decorated and certainly outdo those in run-of-the-mill, national chain hotels.

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The Peery Hotel an Ascend Hotel Collection Member
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

The Peery Hotel first opened its doors in 1910. Though this was just more than a century ago, the Peery's first guests arrived in Salt Lake City for completely different purposes than those of today. They came, not for ski vacations, but to take care of mining or railroad business. In these days, the Peery was a place for magnates in those booming, early 20th Century industries, and for frontiersmen, stopping in for the night before riding on, across the Old West. Though its amenities have fully modernized in the intervening century, this hotel is on the National Historic Register, integrating its historic charm with contemporary guest services. A small hotel, The Peery has but 73 guestrooms.

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Little America Hotel
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

Standing immediately across the street from its sister, the Grand America, the Little America Hotel does not stand out. However, its plain, red brick exterior is just a front hiding the four-diamond accommodations and superb guest services inside. Little America Hotel is undoubtedly one of Salt Lake City's finest boutique hotels, decorated in European style and completely exceeding expectations. The Little America pampers its guests marvelously while shaving off a significant portion of the bill, when compared with the Grand America. Inside, guests will find a restaurant and coffee shop, as well as extensive business and fitness facilities.

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Hotel Monaco is a rather unique phenomenon in the hotel industry - particularly that of Salt Lake City. Combining top-end luxury with funky, modern fun, this hotel provides its visitors with the best in guest services and accommodations, while allowing them to relax. As with the namesake country, this hotel is a fun club for those who can afford the bill. Bold color schemes and modern décor pair together with a completely non-stuffy attitude to create a lively, yet refined atmosphere. Located in the bull's eye of downtown, the Monaco is within casual walking distance of the city's best restaurants - including Bambara, which occupies the first floor of the Monaco.

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Grand America is Salt Lake City's ultimate luxury lodging, and its only five-diamond hotel. Built in the tradition of fine European hotels, this locally-owned establishment cuts no corners when providing its guests with a splendid and opulent lodging experience. In this 775-room hotel, each of the guest beds was hand-picked. These are surrounded by English wool carpets, hand-crafted Richelieu furniture, and Carrera Italian marble. On the premises you'll find a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, numerous dining opportunities, and a spa with massage rooms and saunas. Located right on a TRAX light rail line and in the southwest corner of Downtown, The Grand America is a perfect place for travelers with or without a vehicle.

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Meet Christine Balaz

Christine Balaz began her unexpected writing career in Salt Lake City with her first book on Wasatch Skiing and Travel in 2006. On the subject of Utah, Christine has written numerous...  More About Christine