Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A boutique hotel with a bustling casino and music venue
Offering only 10 rooms, the upper-to-mid-range Border House at Crystal Bay is a boutique hotel that caters to couples and the young at heart. This quiet, charming hotel opened in 2009 after a major renovation of the historic 1927 hotel building, a project overseen by the owners Roger and Elise Norman. As a result, the decor throughout the hotel and in the two on-site restaurants is a mix of modern meets traditional lodge -- stone fireplaces, contemporary fixtures, and a mix of modern and antique-style furniture.
The hotel is managed differently than most. The three-story hotel building only houses the rooms. There's no traditional lobby or front desk, or even full-time staff. However, staff is always present at the Crystal Bay Casino next door, and video surveillance adds to the security. The 24-hour casino is small and allows smoking, so guests should expect some smoke in the public areas (but not in the hotel).
There's no pool or fitness center, but most guests come here to gamble or see a show. A large entertainment venue called the Crystal Bay Club Crown Room hosts bands such as Big Head Todd and the Monsters and others on a weekly basis. The big dance floor and continual flow of entertainers makes the Border House one of the hot night club spots in North Lake Tahoe.
Located in Crystal Bay at Lake Tahoe in Nevada
The Border House at Crystal Bay is located in the town of Crystal Bay beside Lake Tahoe. The hotel is just on the Nevada side of Tahoe, with California within a quarter mile. Several businesses and restaurants are within walking distance.
Lake Tahoe is one of the premier four-season destinations in the country, offering a beautiful combination of clear skies, heavy winter snows, and the blue lake waters backed by the picturesque Sierra Nevada Mountains. Tahoe is an outdoor-lover's paradise offering activities such as camping, fishing, kayaking, white-water rafting, rock-climbing, golfing, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding.
With winter snow often measuring 300 to 500 inches annually, the ski resorts at Tahoe are among the most reliable and exciting in the country. Known for steep vertical drops, open bowls, and some challenging terrain (along with family-friendly runs), Tahoe's collection of ski resorts draws thousands each winter. Despite the snowy conditions, the area usually gets more than 300 sunny days a year. But because of the snow, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended here in winter.
Lake Tahoe is divided across California and Nevada, with 70 percent in California. Because of this, Tahoe is generally spoken of as two distinct areas, North and South Lake Tahoe. South Tahoe is known for its gambling (which is legal in Nevada) and nightlife, while North Tahoe is generally quieter with more of a " mountain personality."
When traveling to the area there are some things to keep in mind: The elevation of the lake is more than 6,000 feet, and the ski resorts surrounding the lake have runs that begin at 10,000 feet. Be careful when engaging in physical activity before acclimating, which usually takes a couple days, as the thin air means the body will need to work harder.
Also, black bears have become a persistent problem around Lake Tahoe. They often break into parked cars and empty buildings looking for food, and are even sophisticated enough to recognize coolers and other signs of food by peering into windows. It's best to remove all food, toiletries, and anything else that may stimulate a bear's keen sense of smell from your vehicle while staying overnight at Tahoe. No locked door or window will stand up to a hungry bear looking for free Cheetos or a sandwich.
Custom-designed rooms with fireplaces
The Border House at Crystal Bay offers 10 lovely rooms in an historic 1927 building. The rooms were all custom-designed by the owners and first opened for business in 2009, so they have a more modern feel than their building's facade would allude. The decor features some contemporary designer-style furnishings, but walls are barren, and the low ceilings painted the same color as the walls creates a cave-like feel. Bathrooms have an interesting mix of modern fixtures and traditional elements (such as the hand-painted wood vanity cabinets), but are overall spacious and luxurious.
Gas fireplaces, glass-walled showers with large chromotherapy soaking tubs, big flat-screen TVs, and top-quality Frette robes and linens are standard. Also, a complimentary "Welcome basket" of snacks and bottled water is included.
A casino and music venue are the highlights
Fine dining at the Steak and Lobster House & Lounge, as well as casual options at Bistro Elise
The Steak and Lobster House & Lounge features a fine dining atmosphere and serves American favorites for dinner. The Lounge has eclectic decor including a woolly mammoth tusk on the bar, and features an extensive wine menu.
The Border House at Crystal Bay is a boutique 10-room hotel attached to a small casino. The rather plain exterior of the hotel gives way to spacious, somewhat luxurious rooms -- the decor features a mix of stylish modern furnishings and more ornate traditional elements, but with stone-clad floor-to-ceiling fireplace hearths and ceilings painted the same color as the walls, rooms can feel a bit cave-like. The gas fireplaces are nice elements though, especially during chilly winter months, as are the large flat-screen TVs and huge chromotherapy tubs. The restaurant and lounge are popular spots, as is the professional stage that hosts many well-known bands throughout the year. Perhaps because of that (and the casino, of course) this hotel is more about the nightlife -- those wanting a pool or outdoor-centric activities, including ski-in/ski-out access, should look elsewhere.