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Lake Tahoe's New Drug Den-Turned-Ski Hotel Is Pretty Rad

January 3, 2013 at 12:51 PM | by | ()

After Euclid's powdery onslaught trapped us in an 6-hour traffic jam en route to Lake Tahoe from the Bay Area this Christmas, we sought refuge at the ski mecca's newest piste-worthy pad, Basecamp Hotel.

Hey, if it's good enough for the NYTimes, it's good enough for us -- snowstorm or no!

The Management:
First off, we've got a huge crush on dreamy owner Christian Strobel (new hot GM alert!). Ex-Chief Development Officer of Joie de Vivre, Christian let us shack up for the night, and, after breezing in fresh off the slopes the next morning, with the icy wind still blowing through his hair… cheeks flushed… skis thrown gallantly over his shoulder… (Ahem! Excuse us…) gave us the grand tour. Now here's the scoop:

The Makeover:
Christian & co. opened Basecamp in June 2012 after gutting the run-down snowboarder motel's 50 graffiti-covered rooms - whose previous occupants included gangs, drug addicts, and, from the sound of it, rabid racoons. $1.5 million means all the bells & whistles are shiny & new, including omnipresent flat screens and the lobby's pair of amazing leather couches from Restoration Hardware.

There are a handful of DIY, recycled touches like the bathrooms' toilet paper holders made of old black iron piping. On Wed., Fri., & Sat. nights, family-style dinners of Guinness stew, Swiss fondue, or whatever mountain specialty the kitchen feels like whipping up ($25-30 per person) are served at a gorgeous communal table in the dining room, itself crafted from wood reclaimed during the renos. Most notably, the graffiti has been substituted with cheeky tapestries (see if you can spot Bigfoot) and original, outdoors-inspired illustrations by San Francisco artist Wendy MacNaughton.

The Rooms:
Our basic room was stylish and cozy, but admittedly had that familiar "motel musk" scent (eek!). The only other minor hiccup was the front desk having to reset our heater. Afterwards, though, the room toasted up quick and we slept like babes under the 300-thread count, hypo-allergenic sheets.

For the whole she-bang, pay extra to experience the "Great Indoors" room, whose campy decor (a king bed covered by a canvas tent, green carpet, faux campfire, and glow-in-the-dark stars speckled on the ceiling) takes glamping to a new level. And unlike our digs, this one smells great - just like the woods!

Friends in tow? Book the Explorer Room's eight bunks and party it up with an HD projector, XBox 360, and surround sound.

The Amenities:
From a patio with heated fire pits to a roof-top hot tub tucked amidst the snow, Basecamp is perkalicious! Two bucks scores you yummy s'more fixin's, while bellying up to the bar will get you a sip of one of Christian's favorite craft brews. Gourmet hot chocolate hour is a don't miss and the free breakfast (with fresh-squeezed OJ & bagels) actually gives credit to the word "continental." There are locks for skis and boards, and a MacBook Air in the lobby. Each week, guests can gather round the lobby fire & flatscreen to share & watch crazy GoPro videos (the official camera of the US Ski & Snowboarding Association). Last but not least, Basecamp is pet-friendly.

The Location:
Despite being steps from a humongous Harrah's casino (and the Nevada state line, obviously), Basecamp earns its title as a launch pad for park rats. The closest lifts are a 5 minute stroll out the door, while a 30 - 60 min. drive lands you at any one of the area's dozen or so sprawling ski resorts (including Shaun White's fave, Northstar).

The Final Word:
We fell hard for Basecamp's rustic/modern vibe and communal ski house feel…not to mention Christian's confession that he "reads HotelChatter religiously!" SWOON. Overall great for those who want a hip, budget-friendly alternative in South Tahoe to crappy motels, casinos, or crowded resorts.

Judging by the plurality of the web address, we're definitely hoping there are more Basecamps to come.

Year-round rates from $84.

[Photos: Suzanne Steinert for HotelChatter]

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