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Aspen is the grande dame of ski resort towns. With its historic charm, gourmet dining, luxury shopping and four stunning powder-covered mountains within the immediate vicinity, it’s hard to imagine a better (or more glamorous) place to spend a winter vacation. Despite the town being unquestionably upscale, Aspen offers a surprising variety of lodging options, from historic hotels to cozy condos; purpose-built ski lodges to quirky hostels. Regardless of your preference, you’re sure to find the perfect place to stay.
Best Overall: Hotel Jerome, An Auberge Resort
If you were to distill Aspen into one single building, Hotel Jerome would be it. Built during the gold rush in the late 1800s, the Jerome has witnessed Aspen’s transition from a mining town to a military training center to an artistic haven to a world-famous ski resort, and it remains the town’s crown jewel.
Luxuriate in your guestroom, each of which is appointed in a contemporary Rocky Mountains style, featuring bespoke furniture (including burnished leather bed frames), unique regional art, plasma TVs, and views of either beautiful downtown Aspen or the mountains. Bathrooms are fitted with marble vanities and separate showers and massive soaking tubs. Amenities are from the Hermès hotel line.
Outside of the room, you’ll find a world-class spa, two gourmet restaurants, a tiled pool, a gym, complimentary chauffeur service in a Mercedes-Benz SUV, the quiet library bar and the world-famous J-Bar, with its legendary après-ski scene. The Jerome is in the village, so it isn’t ski-in/ski-out, but ski concierges and the chauffeur service make life supremely easy for skiers staying here.
Best Ski-in/Ski-out: The Little Nell
The Little Nell offers pure luxury in the best location in town: right at the foot of the Silver Queen Gondola, ready to sweep you up the mountain for a day on the slopes, not to mention mere minutes on foot from all that Aspen’s downtown has to offer. In your beautifully-appointed modern guestroom, suite, or condo, you’ll find a gas log fireplace, wool carpets, a Bose Bluetooth speaker, a separate shower and soaking tub, double stone vanities, heated marble bathroom floors and walls, June Jacobs amenities, and a huge cozy bed topped with a Fili d’Oro down comforter and white goose-down pillows.
Alongside a laundry list of amenities, from on-site art exhibits to 24-hour room service to complimentary rental of “fat bikes” (bicycles with thick tires that can ride on snow), serious skiers will be delighted by the thorough offerings of the Little Nell’s concierges. They’ll tune up your skis, arrange lessons, rentals, or even unique adventures (like joining Ski Patrol to groom the mountain) for you, and even warm your boots on your way out and have a hot cuppa ready for you on the way back in.
Best Budget: Tyrolean Lodge
Friendly family-run Tyrolean Lodge isn’t necessarily the height of fashion, but what this fairly-priced hotel lacks in trendiness, it makes up for in coziness and cleanliness. Each of the 16 spacious guest rooms features two queen beds, one twin bed, and a kitchenette, saving you money across the board but never compromising comfort. Most of the hotel’s décor is wall-mounted antique skiing equipment, which winter sports buffs will find uniquely charming.
The Tyrolean Lodge is right at the edge of the village, so within a five-to-ten-minute walk, you can get to almost anywhere you need to, including the Aspen Mountain ski lifts. The skier shuttle bus also stops directly in front of the hotel, giving visitors easy access to all four ski areas.
Best Boutique: The Limelight
The Limelight is a chic, contemporary, eco-friendly downtown hotel with a fantastic Aspen history (it was built up from what used to be a bar called the Limelite, owned by folksinger Glenn Yarbrough and a hotbed for the 1960s Colorado folk music scene). There’s nothing old-fashioned about the sleek accommodations here, though: the design aesthetic here is decidedly modern, with clean lines and warm, neutral colors in both the well-appointed guest rooms and suites and the common areas. In-room Keurig coffeemakers, flat-screen TVs, and an iPod docking station, as well as traditional hotel amenities, continue the contemporary theme.
Skiers and snowboarders are well taken care of at the Limelight, from on-site ski lockers to ski valets and complimentary shuttle service. The Limelight also curates a number of unique experiences for guests, including a dedicated group tour of the slopes (not a lesson, per se, more of a guided tour of the mountain itself to give you a sense of what not to miss), a group skiing tour with Olympian Chris Klug, and “First Tracks,” a chance to hit the slopes in the morning before the gondola opens.
Best Views: Aspen Meadows Resort
This fascinating property is a must-visit for architecture buffs. Designed in the 1950s-1970s by Herbert Bayer, the Aspen Meadows Resort is a noted example of the Bauhaus style, which emphasized clean lines, natural light, and simple functionality. As such, each guest room has floor-to-ceiling windows, offering spectacular views of the surrounding mountains in every direction. The clean, modernist décor in the rooms heightens the Bauhaus aesthetic, allowing the nature view itself to remain the centerpiece.
The Aspen Meadows Resort is nestled into the hills a bit outside downtown Aspen, which is part of why the views are so picturesque, but free shuttles run every half-hour into town, so visitors certainly aren’t stranded. There’s plenty to do on site, though: racquetball and tennis courts (in the summer), a spa, a massive fitness center, complimentary snowshoe and bicycle usage, a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, two full art galleries and additional seasonal displays, and frequent lectures and other events (Aspen Meadows is home to the Aspen Institute, a policy and research think tank). And for skiers, a ski valet service makes the trip into town easy — they’ll move your gear so you don’t have to.
Best for Families: The Inn at Aspen
There’s a lot to love about the Inn at Aspen from a family perspective: the wide variety of spacious, uniquely-designed rooms and suites, many of which include pull-out sofas, make it easy for any configuration of parents, kids, grandparents, and so on. The pool and hot tub are always a hit with kids, as is the outdoor fire pit (après-ski s’mores, anyone?) and even kids’ movie nights.
But it’s the location that really brings it home for a family vacation: The Inn at Aspen is located at the base of the Buttermilk ski area. Of the four mountains that make up the Aspen Snowmass resort, Buttermilk is the one that’s best-suited to beginners and young skiers, which is why The Hideout — a mini-ski-school and play area for two to six-year-olds — is located here, and private and group lessons for kids 5-12 are also available. Teenagers will enjoy knowing that Buttermilk is the official mountain of the X Games (there’s lots of easy skiing to be had, but also an impressive terrain park and plenty of blue and black terrain for advanced skiers and snowboarders), and parents have plenty of options, too. And no worries about missing the fun in downtown Aspen: the shuttle bus gets you there in just minutes.
Best Romance: The Residence Hotel
Don’t let the unassuming name fool you: the Residence Hotel is one of the most distinct lodging options in Aspen. This small historic property (rumored to be a former brothel) sits at the heart of downtown Aspen and offers just eight suites, each individually designed by the owner, an antique collector and world traveler. Choose the Raj Suite, with its vintage Austrian chandelier, Colonial-era Indian antiques, and Ralph Lauren upholstery. Or consider, perhaps, the Explorer Suite, with its massive antique French bed, Indonesian teak wood paneling, rich red and gold upholstery, and Goan lanterns. Each room is its own tiny living museum, but comfort is tantamount (the beds are Posturepedic, the tubs are deep, and there are cushy couches and chairs aplenty). Should your romantic plans include lots of staying in with your sweetie, you’ll find few better places to do it.
The suites are well-stocked with standard amenities and most rooms even have full kitchens, but there is no on-site restaurant or bar. This isn’t much of a problem, as it is located within steps of dozens of others. There are also no ski-specific services, but the location puts you just three short blocks from the Silver Queen gondola, as well as the shuttle bus to the other ski areas.
Best Luxury: St. Regis Aspen Resort
There are lots of luxury accommodations in swanky Aspen, but for sheer grandeur, the St. Regis Aspen Resort takes the cake. Designed to evoke a Gilded Age manor, the St. Regis is dedicated to maintaining a heritage of opulence: afternoon high tea, after-dinner cognac and cigars, even a daily champagne sabering ceremony keep alive a bygone era. In your guestroom, you’ll find marble bathrooms, Frette bathrobes, Remède bath amenities, Ralph Lauren-designed furniture, high-thread-count sheets, and gorgeous views.
Five fine dining options, an all-season outdoor pool, the Shadow Mountain Lodge, a full-service spa, a library and reading room, and a business center will take care of all of your basic and not-so-basic needs. And if skiing is the main attraction, the resort’s location just two blocks from the Silver Queen Gondola (and one block from the bus station that shuttles you to the other three mountains) makes it easy to get to the slopes, and the ski valets will do all of your gear-schlepping for you.
Best Hostel: St. Moritz Lodge and Condominiums
A hostel? In glitzy Aspen? Yes, it’s really true. In a traditional European Inn style, the mom-and-pop St. Moritz Lodge offers several room options, from traditional hotel rooms to full condos and, yes, shared hostel-style rooms. And they’re charming. Located on the third floor of the property, complete with sloping ceilings and low windows peeping over the treetops, these little rooms with their comfy twin beds are a great choice for travelers on a strict budget. Hostel guests have access to all of the same amenities as regular guests: a hot tub, heated pool, après-ski parties, complimentary breakfast, a steam room, a library, and guest laundry. St. Moritz (or “The Ritz,” as locals call it) is several blocks from the center of town, but it’s still well within walking distance to the heart of things, as well as to the Aspen Mountain ski lifts and shuttles.