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Salt Lake City Travel Guide

About Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, boasts a spectacular setting. Cradled in a natural basin below the Wasatch Mountains and extending to the southern shore of the Great Salt Lake, its natural allure is evident.

This must certainly have been true in 1847 when Mormon Pioneer Brigham Young arrived here and established the famous home of The Church Of The Latter Day Saints. While Salt Lake City is intrinsically linked to the temple erected at the heart of Temple Square, the city still follows its own trajectory.

Today, less than half the population is Mormon and it’s the student and immigrant communities that thrive. Add a flourishing dining scene, eye-catching museums and astonishing number of bars, and Salt Lake City really starts to surprise you.

In their struggle against discrimination, the Mormons have gained an unlikely ally in the LGBT community, and the three-day Pride Festival has become one of Salt Lake’s biggest celebrations.

You can bag your share of culture at the excellent Utah Museum of Contemporary Art or at the Natural History Museum of Utah, based in a sleek 21st-century home conceived to be an extension of the local landscape.

The lure of the mountains is what brings many visitors to Salt Lake. Catch sight of a licence plate and you might spy Utah’s claim to have the ‘greatest snow on earth’. Over 12m (500-plus inches) of super-fluffy white stuff blankets the region annually, and you can ski a different mountain every day of the week. Four major resorts are so close you can take a local bus and be back in town for après at the opera or the symphony. In summer, hiking and camping takes over, along with road trips to Utah’s iconic national parks.

And you can forget all you’ve heard about Utah being a dry state. For years, smart brewpubs and innovative microbreweries have succeeded in watering the thirsty with local ales in the face of restrictive Utah booze laws – let’s drink to that.

Key facts

181,743 (city); 1.2 million (metropolitan area).
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Featured Hotels


The Anniversary Inn

Popular with couples looking for a romantic getaway, this is a themed room hotel designed to fulfil an array of fantasies. Options include sleeping in a sultan's palace, an Egyptian chamber, or hunkering down in a covered wagon. The inn was once the old Salt Lake jail and every suite is now luxuriously equipped with themed spa baths and down duvets - there may even be a room that’s themed to look like the old jail. A romantic continental breakfast delivered to your room is included.

The Grand America Hotel

Built in time for the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Grand America Hotel offers 775 rooms, including four presidential penthouse suites. All rooms have balconies and views of the city skyline or exotic fountain courtyard, internet and 24-hour room service. The plush hotel is filled with antiques, and there's a full service spa, indoor and outdoor pools, and elegant lobby lounge and bar. It’s also within walking distance to all downtown attractions.

Hotel Monaco

This expansive property offers some of the most stylish accommodation among the category of boutique hotels in Salt Lake City. Seductive guest rooms and suites set in a meticulously refurbished landmark 14-story building are filled with dazzling décor flourishes, featuring bold geometrics that appear to be an extraordinary cross between art deco and Native American tribal. The establishment has an upbeat feel and staff are attentive and will able to arrange most facets of your stay.

Marriott Salt Lake City Downtown

This is one of the biggest hotels in Salt Lake City, offering 510 well-equipped rooms and suites, arranged over 16 floors right in the centre of town, and just a few steps away from Temple Square and Symphony Hall. All the reassuring comforts expected of this global chain can be found here, including a decent on-site restaurant, swimming pool, fitness centre, and internet access.

La Quinta Inn Salt Lake City West

Located in the suburbs west of Temple Square with easy highway access and in convenient proximity to the airport, this cheap Salt Lake City hotel still has all the facilities and comforts required, including 59 guestrooms featuring phones, cable television and wireless internet access. Shared facilities include an indoor pool and fitness centre.

Old Town Guest House

In the heart of Park City, ski right out the front door to cross-country trails or the in-town ski lift. Within walking distance of the historic Main Street, this is cabin-cosy accommodation, providing cooked breakfast, and a hot tub to soothe muscles after a day hiking, biking, skiing or exploring. The perfect base for those visiting the mountains any time of year, this actually became the headquarters for the British ski team during the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics.