Travel Guides

The Insider’s Travel Guide to Whistler, Canada

Whistler, British Columbia, has it all: inventive restaurants, luxury resorts, stunning vistas, and, of course, incredible mountains for skiing and snowboarding.

Whistler Luxury Travel Guide

Tucked high in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada, is a winter wonderland. The town of Whistler is home to Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort, two sprawling mountains with some of the best skiing in North America. But it’s not just about the mountains; the town has charming shops, fabulous restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines, and fantastic spas. Our luxury Whistler travel guide tells you everything you need to know to make the most of your stay. 

The Insider’s Travel Guide to Whistler, Canada

How to Get to Whistler

Getting to Whistler can be a bit like a game of planes, trains, and automobiles, but it’s definitely worth it. First, you need to fly to Vancouver, then it’s a 2.5-hour drive to Whistler. If you’re coming from the West Coast, consider yourself lucky! There are few direct flights from the East Coast, and most of them land at night. With the time difference, it can be a brutal travel day. Instead of braving the drive in the dark, spend the night at the airport. While staying at an airport can be a fraught experience at many destinations, Fairmont Vancouver Airport is a luxury hotel that makes the experience easy. It’s soundproof, and it’s located inside the airport, so it’s convenient. 

To get to Whistler from Vancouver, hire a driver, take a shuttle, or rent a car. You likely won’t be driving in Whistler, so hiring a driver or taking a shuttle can be the easiest options. Hiring a private car will cost $600-$1,000 each way, depending on the time of day. You will pay a premium for a late-night drive. Your hotel can book a car for you; just be sure to do so in advance, as there are not a lot of providers. Whistler Shuttle is our recommended provider for a shared shuttle. It offers door-to-door service and tracks your flight, so you don’t have to worry about delays. Book this at least 72 hours in advance to guarantee a seat. 

Where to Stay in Whistler

Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Fairmont Chateau Whistler is nestled into the base of the slopes

Whistler is split up into three areas: Creekside, Upper Village, and the main area, Whistler Village. If you stay in Creekside or Upper Village, your hotel will offer a shuttle service to get into town. There are two luxury hotels in Whistler: Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler. They’re comparable, but we recommend the Fairmont because it’s a true ski-in/ski-out hotel. 

Four Seasons Whistler Luxury Travel Guide
Four Seasons has plenty of pools and hot tubs for soaking sore muscles

If traveling with a group, you might want to rent a luxury house instead. There are several local home-rental companies, as well as LVH, Airbnb, and Vrbo. If you want to rent a house but still have a full-service experience akin to staying in a luxury hotel, check out Whistler Wired. This local company specializes in luxury ski-in/ski-out rentals and can arrange every aspect of your trip once you arrive in Vancouver, including pesky logistics like transfers, lift passes delivered to your accommodation, gear fitting and delivery, and stocking the home with groceries. For the fun stuff, it can arrange a culinary tour of Whistler with reservations at the best places, have private chefs come to the home for dinner, and organize exclusive experiences such as heli-skiing. 

Skiing and Snowboarding in Whistler

Skiing and Snowboarding in Whistler
Whistler Blackcomb has epic slopes

Whistler Blackcomb Resort is owned by Vail Resorts, so it’s part of the Epic Pass, a season-long ski permit encompassing a network of mountains and resorts. If you have one, you’re all set. If not, buy your lift passes in advance to skip the line. 

There are two mountains here: Whistler and Blackcomb. They are connected by the scenic Peak 2 Peak Gondola. The 2.7-mile gondola ride takes 11 minutes and offers unparalleled views of the mountains. Peak 2 Peak stops running at 3 pm sharp, so keep that in mind when planning your day on the slopes. 

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola offers stunning views on clear days
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola offers stunning views on clear days

The two mountains offer a wide range of terrain, from family-friendly green runs to expert-only areas. It’s smart to book a lesson on your first day to get a better understanding of the mountains and to find your favorite runs. Also, the conditions can vary dramatically, and the instructor will know where the best snow is. The mountains can get crowded, especially on weekends and powder days, and you’ll get to skip the lift lines if you’re with an instructor. For a truly unique experience, book the Ski With an Olympian package.  

The lower slopes can get quite icy after 2 pm, so many people choose to finish their days early to avoid the treacherous descent, while others opt to download by descending in the gondola. The resort is working hard to change the negative attitude around downloading, so it’s more common here than in other places. 

The Best Restaurants in Whistler 

Make restaurant reservations far in advance. If you want to eat at Christine’s, the best on-mountain dining, check the website for reservation opening dates and book immediately. If you are unsuccessful, keep an eye on reservations during your trip. They frequently open up due to cancellations, especially when the weather isn’t great. There’s also a small bar for walk-ins. 

You will need a dinner reservation for every night you’re in Whistler. Every restaurant — even more casual ones — will be fully booked. I don’t know why, but on my recent trip most places I ate at were incredibly warm, so wear a light layer under your sweater so you aren’t sweltering. 

Sushi Village

Sushi Village serves incredible seafood but is a bit of a pain. They do not offer reservations — although groups of six or more can reserve the private rooms — so arrive right when it opens at 5 pm to put your name on the list. People begin lining up at 4 pm to get a table. Then head back to your après or hotel for the wait. It also offers takeaway if you don’t want to wait. Those who brave the waitlist will be rewarded with the freshest nigiri and sashimi, inventive special rolls, tempura, and a selection of hot entrées. 

Christine’s on Blackcomb

You must have lunch at Christine’s on Blackcomb. The restaurant offers the best mountain views and has very elevated cuisine. It serves a lovely selection of Canadian wines worth trying and also has the famed Caesar, the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary, made with Clamato juice. If you’re in a rush, just have a main course and return to the slopes. 

If you’ve booked a later reservation and are heading back down after lunch, indulge in all three courses. The Pemberton Beet Salad, Scallop Ceviche, and Squash Soup are standout starters. For mains, the short rib is fantastic. There’s also a burger, but please note that Canadian law requires burgers to be cooked to 71°C (160°F), which is well done. 

Wild Blue 

This new restaurant has already earned rave reviews for its Pacific Northwest cuisine that showcases the region’s bounty. Wild Blue has an excellent raw bar, including caviar service and seafood towers; seasonal courses; and six different cuts of steak (even a Japanese A5 Wagyu), for delicious steak frites. 


This seafood-focused restaurant has a great raw bar with a large selection of East and West coast Canadian oysters, caviar, a seafood tower, and sushi. For dinner at Araxi, opt for the Pemberton winter squash soup or wild scallop tartare, followed by the Yarrow Meadows duck breast or miso-marinated BC sablefish. 

Il Caminetto

For delicious Italian food and an extensive wine list, head to Il Caminetto. The menu highlights fresh local meat and fish alongside imported Italian delicacies and fresh pasta. It has a homey ambiance and is always bustling. 

Where to Après in Whistler

The Mallard Lounge
The Mallard Lounge cocktail | Whistler Luxury Travel Guide
The Mallard Lounge has a cozy vibe and sophisticated cocktails

The Mallard Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau is a great spot for an elevated après-ski scene. There’s live music, great nibbles, and a large drinks menu. The crispy chicken sandwich, nachos, and cauliflower bites are great. There’s also a large selection of salads if you’re looking for something lighter. 

Merlin’s Bar and Grill 
Merlin’s Bar and Grill
Merlin’s is crowded but worth the wait for après

For massive nachos, live music, and a big party scene, head to Merlin’s Bar and Grill at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. Merlin’s Nachos Nuevo are legendary in Whistler; the enormous platter is great to share with your group. The menu also includes classics like burgers, chili, and poutine. Come early, or be prepared to wait for a table at this popular spot. 


For a casual, local hangout, head to Handlebar in the Upper Village. This petite spot specializes in New York-style pizza and local craft beer. It’s no frills but delicious, and you might see a local Olympian hanging out with friends.  

Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill
Garibaldi Lift Co | Whistler Luxury Travel Guide
Garibaldi Lift Co has an eclectic menu for après

GLC, as it’s known locally, is a popular bar on the Whistler side, conveniently located just above the gondola building. It offers great views of skiers finishing their day and has a fun yet family-friendly vibe; it’s definitely more restrained than some of the wilder party scenes. The line moves pretty quickly, and the spots at the bar that winds its way around the restaurant are open for walk-ins. Burgers, flatbreads, and poutine are the way to go here. 

Don’t Miss This Spa

Scandinave Spa
Scandinave Spa is open late, so you can spend the full day on the slopes

Scandinave Spa offers saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, cold plunges, and plenty of relaxation options. The thermal spa is the perfect place to soothe sore muscles and unwind and is a must-do experience in our luxury Whistler travel guide. The space is silent. Bring flip-flops, buy their sandals, or be prepared to go barefoot (the walkways are heated, so your feet won’t be cold even in the dead of winter). If you want a massage, book one well in advance, as Scandinave is extremely popular. You’ll want to spend at least two hours here indulging in the hot-cold rituals.

Be sure to book the VIP Thermal Package, which includes a robe and two towels, in advance to avoid waiting during busy periods. Scandinave Spa recommends a hot experience followed by a cold one, then a relaxation period. You can relax indoors or find the outdoor hammocks with fleece-lined sleeping bags. Lying cocooned in the warm blankets while gently rocking, staring up at towering trees, is a serene experience.

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