Most visitors to Whistler stay in either Whistler Village or Creekside, where there are hotel properties of varying amenities (and expense) as well as condo rentals. The Village itself has won numerous design awards and is divided into three main areas: the Village, Village North, and the Upper Village.
The Village is nestled between the two mountains and the hub of Whistler's renowned dining, après and shopping experience. Staying here means easy access to both mountains and amenities but comes with a price tag. Village North is a bit further out from the slopes, across the Village Gate Boulevard and is where you'll find the Marketplace Shopping Centre, the medical clinic, and Whistler's Olympic Plaza commemorating the 2010 Winter Games. Just across Fitzsimmons Creek at the base of Blackcomb is Upper Village, a quieter part of the town with limited dining options. This area is serviced by Wizard Express which takes you mid-mountain Blackcomb. Lastly, there's Creekside which is the quietest and most residential part of Whistler. It's 3 mi down the road and the first part of Whistler you'll come to when driving from Vancouver - don't worry about making your way to Village to access the slopes, it's serviced by the Creekside Gondola which takes you mid-mountain Whistler.
Areas such as Niklaus North (near the golf course) and Alpine Meadows are 5 minutes drive out from the Village but have cheaper lodging options. Farther away, are the towns of Squamish (halfway between Vancouver and Whistler) and Pemberton (30 minutes north of Whistler); you’ll need to use transit or have a car to stay in either of these places.
Within both the village and Creekside, room rates are based on brand and amenities. Everything else being equal, the farther away you get from the slopes the cheaper rates get. Depending on the size of your group and the length of your stay, the difference in lodging price in Pemberton or Squamish may more than offset the cost of a car or transit. Rooms may get hard – or at least expensive – to find around Christmas and New Years as well as holiday weekends in the US (Martin Luther King Day in January and Presidents’ Day in February).
Most of Whistler Village is walkable via the Village Stroll and pedestrian-friendly promenades. The North Village connects to the heart of Whistler via the Valley Trail, and most of the lodging options are about half a mile walk to the slopes. Upper Village properties are farther to the east toward the Blackcomb side and are over a mile from the Village. Walking from Creekside to the Village is out of the question being 3 mi away.
Thankfully, BC Transit serves all the neighbourhoods around Whistler for $2 USD (£1 GBP) a ride, and operates from 5:30am-3am. Frequency depends on the specific route and time of day, but you can find the schedules online. The buses can get a little crowded right before the lifts open and right after they shut down, but aside from those peak moments, the rides are comfortable.
If 21 ½ hours of bus service isn’t quite enough (or if the buses don’t go where you need to go) there’s taxi service available from Whistler Resort Cabs and Whistler Taxi. An average trip within the village will be about $4 USD (£3 GBP), while a ride out to Creekside will be about $8 USD (£6 GBP). British Columbia has not allowed Uber to operate, but that may change as early as December 2017 so it may be an option for your visit.
Both Creekside and Whistler Village are within walking distance of gondolas to get you quickly up the slopes. The Creekside Gondola is the only lift serving the base there and only takes you mid-mountain Whistler. From there, you can either take the long, green traverse Expressway or continue uphill on the Big Red Express to access the rest of the mountain. Whistler Village, on the other hand, is where Whistler and Blackcomb converge so has plenty of ways up the mountain. If you're staying in Upper Village, you'll be going up the Wizard Express unless you make your way into the Village.
In addition to all the dining, drinking, dancing, galleries, and shopping, there are three grocery stores: The Whistler Grocery Store in the Village, IGA supermarket in Village North, and the smaller Upper Village Market near Fairmont Chateau. Creekside has a market and a fine foods store, and there are several smaller convenience stores and pharmacies dotted throughout the area. Odds are good you’ll be able to walk to one of them should you find it necessary.
Many lodging properties offer their own on-site parking. If yours doesn’t, or if you’re staying away from the village, the resort has several lots. They're easy to get to but can fill up unless you get there early (before 8). Lots 1-3 are paid, while lots 4-8 are free. 1-5 are within walking distance to the centre of the village, 6-8 are on the Blackcomb side. There is also parking in Creekside.