As we wrote in our roundup of warm-weather destinations, while planning the trip is supposed to be half of the fun, the pressure that builds up around holiday travel can derail the joy of plotting a vacation, to say nothing for taking one. And that's before we consider price surges, the longer minimum stays hotels increasingly require, and the subpar experiences all too common on airlines. We've seen conflicting trends for this holiday season, with some hotels and destinations already sold out and others still showing availability. Our best travel advice might be obvious to regular Fathom readers: If you can avoid traveling between Christmas and New Year’s and other big winter holidays like President’s Weekend, you’ll be rewarded with lower prices and more options.
If your vacation thrills run towards the chills, the forecast is in: Snow has dusted the Rockies, the Northern Lights are aglow, and skiers are already taking their first tracks of the season. If you’re ready to embrace the best of the Northern Hemisphere’s polar options, we’ve rounded up ten excellent spots for dreamy winter wonderland escapes in the United States and Europe.
Utah’s premiere basecamp for nature adventures is debuting a new backcountry skiing experience this winter, in partnership with the guide company Inspired Summit Adventures, that will take guests deep into the Uinta Mountains via snowmobile for pristine powder and zero crowds. After hours in the powder, the hotel will set up a private après at one of the resort’s two mountainside yurts with fondue, champagne, and a cozy fire for optimal defrosting. Those who prefer their pampering off the slopes will revel in the hotel spa's guided meditations, yoga, and treatments like the High West Whiskey rubdown — a massage and salt and sage foot soak paired with a shot from High West, the whiskey distillery next door.
This is perfect for adventurous couples or groups of skiiers who want to take their skills up a notch. Bonus points for Blue Sky's many social purpose initiatives, such as rescuing traumatized horses and providing health care for the uninsured population of Summit and Wasatch counties.
The early morning wake-up call will be worth it for first tracks outside your door at the new ski-in/ski-out property located mid-mountain on Snowmass, the largest of Aspen’s four skiable mountains. The expansive hotel (part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection) underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation to its 254 guest rooms, 18 suites, two penthouses with full kitchens, reimagined lobby lounge and bar with mountain views, and expanded outdoor decks. A ski valet on hand can assist with rentals and keep gear warm overnight; the KidsZone can keep kids busy and babysit when mom and pop have other plans. The Ayurvedic-focused Lupine Spa soothes skiers' sore muscles, as do the several hydrating oxygen treatments for altitude acclimation. For non-skiers, the hotel can arrange ice-climbing expeditions, backcountry snowmobiling, and snow bike adventures.
This stay is perfect for families with kids learning to ski for the first time.
The ultimate way to reach solitude and unplug in the majestic Rocky Mountains may be aboard VIA Rail's The Canadian super scenic, glass-domed train. Passengers wind through mountains and ice valleys in luxurious sleeper cars, having dinner on board and settling into cozy nooks made for staring at the passing scenery. With frequent departures from Vancouver or Toronto, adding a night or two on the train onto any Canadian ski trip or visit to the fairytale frozen Lake Louise is easy. Operators like Vacations By Rail offer packages that include transportation to and from the parks, hotel accommodations, and guided wildlife tours and expeditions. Read more about it on Fathom.
This trip is perfect for multi-gen trips, and especially for family members aren't very mobile or active, and for those who want to savor the journey as much as the destination.
Watch the snow fall inside your own A-frame cabin tucked in the woods of the Adirondack mountains along the Chubb River. Expect breakfast baskets full of fluffy croissants delivered to your door in the morning, cozy robes to wear while dashing to the outdoor sauna, cocktails and s'mores by the fire. Taking cues from its sister property in the Catskills, the rooms and communal spaces (reading nooks, vintage-book library, fireplace lounge) are designed for optimal lagom (the Swedish term for "just the right amount") — letting the outdoors permeate and allowing time to slow down. You'll be well-fed and watered at the bar and lounge and in the blacksmith shop-turned-private dining room for up to ten people. But if cabin fever does warm up, the charming town of Lake Placid and its boutiques and frosted-window eateries are just a short ten-minute walk away.
This is perfect for digital detoxers and friend groups with a mix of indoor and outdoor enthusiasts.
There are northern destinations, and then there's Iceland. And then there's Ólafsfjörður on the Troll Peninsula way up north, a remote destination much less frequented than Reyjvjvik, which, at 235 miles to the south, seems almost tropical in comparison. This is where you'll find Eleven Experience's Deplar Farm, a 13-bedroom lodge available as a buyout or by the room. Activities around here include skiing, sea kayaking, and whale-watching in fjords, as well as exploring Iceland's otherworldly geography. But the better reason to come here between November and March is the an astral adrenaline rush of seeing the Northern Lights in all their multi-hued, mystical glory, and experiencing them without light pollutions, perhaps from the outdoor Viking sauna or the geothermal-heated indoor/outdoor pool.
This is perfect for getting totally off the grid and making resolutions to the heavens.
Pair views of the Matterhorn with bubbling fondue and mulled wine, and you’ve got the perfect Swiss fairytale. Add on the best skiing in Europe (you can even ski across the border into Italy), a buzzy dining scene with several Michelin-starred restaurants, and a frosted, car-free village of wooden chalets, and you’ve gone to heaven. For 140 years, Schweizerhof Zermatt, a 95-room alpine chic retreat, has been making this dream a reality, combining the town’s classic charm with modern interiors dressed in fleece, leather, and marble. Fireplaces roar with the clink of cocktails in the hotel’s grand dining space, as skis are tuned overnight by the ski concierge and in-house ski instructor who preps the lesson plan for the following day. For non-skiers, the hotel can arrange a trip aboard the Gornergrat train, one of the world’s highest, open-air trains with panoramic views of the Monte Rosa Massif, the second largest glacier in the Alps, and the surrounding peaks over 13,000 feet.
This place is perfect for first-timers to the Swiss Alps and adventurous families.
The Alps are home to a slew of glam ski towns with perfect French accents, one for every personality. We'll pass on in-your-face bling and opt instead for the chic, contemporary style of Le Coucou in Méribel. The family-run hotel, part of the Maison Pariente group, ticks all the right boxes, starting with striking chalet style by designer Pierre Yovanovitch, whose cozy rooms and suites mix natural materials — light woods, grey stones, textiles in warm ochres, blues, and reds — to great effect. Two chalets with fully equipped kitchens and a private hammam, indoor pool, and sauna can accommodate up to twelve. The in-house restaurants include an outpost of the cult-ish French steakhouse Beefbar, Biancaneve for Italian fare, and Le Fumoir for local Savoyard specialities. Bar des Pistes overlooking the slopes is a great spot for drinks and games après ski or anytime. A Tata Harper spa and the indoor/outdoor pool will revive muscles aching from a day of skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Ah, yes, the skiing: Le Coucou offers brilliant on-piste ski-in, ski-out access to an extensive network of slopes for all levels and has its own well equipped on-site shop that can outfit you from helmet to skis, with everything in between. Also worth noting is the staff, who treat guests with the kind of warmth and care that you only get at a family-run hotel.
This is perfect for design-conscious snow bunnies and those who want an effortless, all-under-one-roof ski experience. Bonus points for the Kids Club and Teens Lab, possibly the coolest we've ever seen, which has Petit VIP certification, ensuring staff have mastered the art of responsibly caring for the junior set.
The Italian Dolomites are justifiably famous for their beauty and grandeur, and also for their interconnected ski slopes, wherein one lift ticket gives you access to something like 800 miles of pistes. If you don’t already know these mountains, you will soon, when glamorous Cortina hosts the 2026 Winter Olympics. Alpe di Siusi on the western and German-speaking Sud Tirol end of the mountain range is one of the lesser known areas of the Dolomites, which is only one of its many appeals. Here are others: an expansive valley stretching as far as the eye can see makes for gorgeous sunsets and moonrises, a car-free ambiance ensures you hear more cow bells than car horns, slopeside eateries entice you to stop even when you’re not hungry, and a number of not-super-intimidating slopes make beginners feel great about their ski skills. Icaro Hotel stands alone along one of the slopes, a beacon of high design and architectural panache. Family-run for generations, the hotel is warm and wonderful, elegant and relaxed, friendly and functional, with unequalled ski-in, ski-out access, along with an indoor-outdoor pool, sauna, and massage facilities. Come once, and you’ll probably book your return trip before you’ve even left.
This is perfect for those who want to ski Italy without the crazy scene that can go with skiing throughout Europe. Bonus eco points: Icaro has been carbon neutral since 2010, the first hotel in the Dolomites to do it.
There's more to winter fun than skiing. When you're itching to swap your skis for a pair of hiking boots and snowshoes, head an hour southeast of Rome to Fiuggi, home of the healing water that throughout the centuries has revived everyone from randy popes and a beleaguered Michelangelo. The Ranch, of Malibu hiking retreat fame, launched a version of their results-driven wellness program earlier this year within Palazzo Fiuggi, the recently converted medical/wellness spa hotel. The four- and eight-day programs are offered year-round and are intense, with 5:30 wake-up calls, four hours of hiking before noon, afternoon workout and yoga classes, daily massages, and an all-vegan, no caffeine, no sugar, no alcohol diet. (They're not kidding about the results.) The exhilarating hikes take guests through hills and forests, past medieval towns and wandering cows. Guest have access to Palazzo Fiuggi's extensive and state-of-the-art spa facilities, which includes an infrared sauna, steam room, frigid plunge pool, indoor and outdoor pools and jacuzzis, and a fitness center in the former ballroom.
This is perfect for a health and wellness reboot especially if you like your reboots to have a dash of dolce vita style.
If you've ever wanted to indulge in a great British country weekend, the one where you move into a castle-like mansion they charmingly call a "house" and spend days roaming hundreds of acres of woodlands and gardens in the snowy hills of Scotland, this is your place. You'll spend days sharpening (or debuting) your skills at falconry, clay shooting, fishing, horseback riding, ziplining, and off-road cruising — or maybe you'll just take a nice, long walk and stare out into the green, green horizon. Go ahead and pretend you're a long-lost member of the royal family (one of the good cousins): Everyone else is probably doing the same. Edinburgh and St. Andrews are close enough to combine into a lovely Scottish vacation, and if you come for the holidays, you'll learn what Hogmanay is, perhaps over a Hansel & Gretel-themed afternoon tea. Leave the kids in their disco and settle in for a long night. The kitchen will revive you with a late-night snack served until 3 a.m. Oh, and do pack the tartan.
This is the place for Downton Abbey addicts who still can't believe there aren't new episodes and outdoor-minded Anglophiles.