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Perched on the edge of a seven-mile stretch of water and surrounded by the magnificent San Bernadino Mountains, the alpine city of Big Bear Lake is a magnet for adventure-seekers. In winter, ski and snowboard enthusiasts use it as a base for the nearby Snow Summit and Bear Mountain ski resorts; and in summer, boaters, hikers and mountain bikers come to enjoy the sunshine and spectacular scenery. Accommodation options are relatively limited in Big Bear Lake, with most hotels offering mid-range holiday cabins or resort-style rooms. However, there are specialist picks for backpackers, luxury travelers, and those in search of something a little out-of-the-ordinary. In this article, we look at the best of them all.
Best Overall: Pine Knot Guest Ranch
Family-owned Pine Knot Guest Ranch is ranked by TripAdvisor reviewers as the best hotel in Big Bear Lake. It’s loved by travelers for its cozy atmosphere and tranquil, wooded location, but is still within walking distance of downtown shops and restaurants. Accommodation comes in the form of resort cabins and vacation homes. The latter sleep between two and 12 guests, making them ideal for families or groups of friends traveling together. All cabins have a two-person jacuzzi tub, a wood-burning fireplace, and a private porch; while vacation homes boast a separate living room.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll be able to self-cater in your kitchenette or full kitchen. All cabins and homes are pet-friendly, and with two acres of land, there’s plenty of room for kids and dogs to let off steam. There’s a private playground too, but it’s the property’s pet bunnies and llamas that are the real highlight for younger guests. In winter, make fun family memories on the designated sledding hill.
Best Budget: Robinhood Resort
With rooms available from $115 per night, Robinhood Resort is the most affordable Big Bear Lake hotel (with good reviews) on TripAdvisor. It enjoys an excellent, central location on the city’s main street, putting you within a few hundred meters of the lakeshore and Pine Knot Marina. All rooms have cozy fireplaces, full bathrooms, a TV and free Wi-Fi, while a kitchenette gives you the freedom to cook for yourself and save money on dining out. If you save enough for an upgrade, some rooms have lake views and in-room spas.
Robinhood Resort also has its own restaurant, Nottinghams Tavern, which serves well-priced Californian cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s also a full bar and regular entertainment, including live music and table-side magic shows. For the best value, time your visit with Happy Hour or make the most of specials such as $5 martinis on Wednesdays or Tuesday Family Nights (when kids eat for free). The resort also offers various money-saving ski and activity packages.
Best for Luxury: The Club at Big Bear Village
Big Bear Lake is short on five-star hotels, but for families or groups, the luxury condos of The Club at Big Bear Village offer a way to stay in style. Suites are available with two, three or four bedrooms, and the largest has space for 10 guests. Expect sleek modern decor with plenty of stone, wood, and leather, as well as designer appliances in the full kitchens. Bathrooms have oversized soaking tubs and the separate living room is made for lazy afternoons with a large flat-screen TV and fireplace.
All suites have a spacious dining room and you can grill out on your private balcony or porch when the weather’s fine. Use the washer/dryer to freshen up your base layers in between sessions on the slopes. The complex also has some impressive communal facilities, including a seasonal heated outdoor pool, a children’s pool, a billiards room, and a private fitness center. Above all, the condos receive near-perfect TripAdvisor reviews for their cleanliness, comfort, and brand-new feel.
Best for Families: Sleepy Forest Cottages
Though most Big Bear Lake hotels welcome children, Sleepy Forest Cottages is a particularly popular family pick. You can stroll to the lake in summer and drive to both ski resorts in just a few minutes. Better yet, Meadow Park — with its children’s playground, tennis courts, and ball fields — is a five-minute walk away. The property has a wide choice of cabins and vacation homes. Consider booking one of three dedicated family cabins (two with one bedroom and one with two bedrooms for extra privacy).
All family cabins sleep four or five adults and two children, and have a living room, dining area, and complete kitchen. A full-size fridge/freezer and microwave come in handy for preparing and storing your kids’ favorite meals. Some cabins and vacation homes also have a picket-fenced yard for little ones to play in. On bad weather days, borrow movies and games from the lobby, tune in to the flat-screen HD TV or stream series using the free Wi-Fi.
Best for Romance: Cozy Hollow Lodge
Nestled amidst the scenic pine forest to the west of the city center, Cozy Hollow Lodge is an affordable option recommended by TripAdvisor reviewers for romantic getaways. It’s not the most luxurious hotel in the area, but it fits the bill for couples in search of rustic intimacy. The property comprises a central lodge and 11 private wood cabins. Of these, the Deluxe Studio Park City and the Deluxe Cottage Steamboat are especially romantic. Their stand-alone nature guarantees privacy, while a fireplace and an in-room jacuzzi tub for two set the scene for memorable moments.
Some rooms and cabins have kitchen facilities, allowing you to whip up something special for your loved one. Alternatively, eat al fresco in the communal barbecue and picnic area, or stroll hand-in-hand to one of the restaurants on nearby Pine Knot Avenue. Friendly owners Peggy and Rich are happy to help with recommendations and reservations. In summer, unwind after a day of alpine adventures with a session in the lodge’s outdoor spa.
Best for Business: Best Western Big Bear Chateau
The Best Western Big Bear Chateau is the ideal choice for business travelers or those planning a corporate retreat. Situated on the eastern edge of town, it’s a five-minute drive from Big Bear Lake Convention Center and the same distance from Snow Summit and Bear Mountain ski resorts. On-site, you’ll find meeting facilities for up to 140 delegates, full business services, and free high-speed internet. Guest rooms include a work desk but also come with everything you need to unwind after a busy day — think pillow-top mattresses, cable TV, and a fireplace.
A complimentary full breakfast ensures that you start your day off right. If you need to clear your head before an important meeting, pay a visit to the fitness center. Recreational facilities include a seasonal outdoor heated pool, a hot tub, and a game room. Tiffany’s cocktail lounge is the perfect place to network from Thursday to Saturday and there is a choice of independent bars and restaurants within a few minutes’ walk.
Best B&B: Eagle’s Nest Bed and Breakfast Lodge
Located just east of the town center, Eagle’s Nest Bed and Breakfast Lodge is a short drive from the lake, ski resorts, and downtown restaurants. It’s a great option for those in search of a quaint home-away-from-home. The Ponderosa-style log cabin is presided over by husband-and-wife innkeepers who are frequently praised on TripAdvisor for their flawless hospitality. Antique furniture, mountain-inspired decor, and stained glass windows all contribute to the charming atmosphere.
Five guestrooms are named after western movies and include a private bathroom, free Wi-Fi, a TV and DVD player, and a fireplace. Reviewers particularly love the daily wake-up call, which comes half an hour before breakfast and is accompanied by your choice of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. The homemade breakfasts are generous and delicious and served in the Great Room with its river rock fireplace and cozy leather furniture. The property also has five Cottage Suite rooms with whirlpool tubs and basic self-catering facilities instead of breakfast.
Best Hostel: ITH Big Bear Mountain Adventure Lodge
ITH Big Bear Mountain Adventure Lodge is not your average party hostel; instead, it’s an eco-friendly haven designed with outdoorsy travelers in mind. The property itself is scrupulously clean and safe. You’ll also have access to generous facilities and the local knowledge of the friendly staff. The grounds include a volleyball court, archery course, and hammock forest, while communal lounges offer a place to play ping pong or swap stories with fellow travelers in front of the fire.
Accommodation options vary from traditional dormitories to private single, double, family, and pet-friendly rooms. If you book a private room you can pay extra for an ensuite bathroom; those on a tighter budget can save cash by camping instead. Use the free Wi-Fi and provided iPads to upload photos or contact your family back home. You can self-cater in the communal kitchen, but those that can’t cook needn’t worry; free meals are served every day for breakfast and dinner.
Best Themed: Castle Wood Cottages
If you’re looking for a unique hotel that will look great on your Instagram feed, book a stay at Castle Wood Cottages. Located a seven-minute walk from downtown Pine Knot Avenue, the property boasts 11 cottages, each with its own whimsical theme. Stay in the Castle Garden cottage to discover a talking suit of armor and a garden complete with a moat and waterfall. In the Anthony and Cleopatra cottage, hand-painted hieroglyphics and papyrus artwork await; while the Woodland Tree House is suspended 15 feet off the ground.
The most astonishing cottage of all is the Enchanted Forest, a split-level space with light-strung oak boughs overhanging the bed and a grotto, waterfall, and elves’ house below. No matter which theme captures your imagination, you’ll benefit from a fireplace, a jacuzzi tub, and basic self-catering facilities. In-room massages can be arranged, as can romantic packages (such as chocolate-dipped strawberries or a turndown service with rose petals and candles). There are several restaurants nearby.