Those who aren’t heading to the sun scorched shores of the Caribbean may find embracing the apres ski lifestyle the best way to wait out the winter until spring. There is no finer socialite spot for embracing the snow and ice quite like Colorado’s crown jewel of Aspen. Think of it as a winter Hamptons. Every year the mountainside town pulls in a highly affluent crowd; from celebrities looking to swish down the slopes to international ski lovers and families wanting to experience Americas swankiest white powder playground. Here are our suggestions on how to stay, dine and play off piste in Aspen…
Where to Stay
Despite Aspen’s first-class clientele, the mountain town still has a hint of its provincial roots mostly reflected in its slim pickings for five-star places to stay. Fortunately, Relais and Chateaux filled this need with their lovely oasis of The Little Nell. Sitting at the foot of Aspen Mountain, you can expect lavish luxury with bells on. Snow bunnies will adore the ski in and ski out access, and the concierge team are dab hands when it comes to pre-warming your boots in the morning.
The Little Nell takes the memory of a mountain lodge and gives it a welcome modern update. Stone walls feature originally inspired art-work from the likes of Michelle Grabner and rooms have log fires, heated marble floors in the decadent bathrooms, and private balconies for sunrise mountain views.
The Hotel Jerome is the place to stay for those seeking a more boutique downtown vibe. The sleek lobby bar is always a welcome sight after a day on the slopes, and the latest revamp has lent a chic and sophisticated look with buttery soft leather touches, oversized tubs, and generously sized suites. Hunter S Thompson used to prop up at the bar here, and the heated pool is the best spot for admiring the snow-capped mountain.
The St Regis Hotel is the perfect example of a mountainside manor. A quintessential ski resort – under this roof you will find flush junior suites, an award winning spa, and roaring log fires at every turn. The Chefs Club is said to be one of the best in the world, and afternoon tea is replaced cleverly with apres tea, where lashings of champagne and hot chocolate take the edge of the cold outside.
Where to Dine
From rich gooey fondue on top of a mountain to pearly oysters with Bloody Mary’s for brunch, Aspen knows how to serve up the kind of classy comfort food you want when it’s cold outside. Everyone in town adores Cloud Nine – perched at the top of the world and accessible only by braving the gorgeous glass gondolas. Once up the mountain you can gorge on raclette, steak tartar, strudel, and lashings of champagne. Be warned, the atmosphere is ravishingly rowdy and when lunch ticks over into apres ski time, it’s not unusual for an impromptu ski boot disco to strike up.
Back to The Little Nell and their in-house restaurant Element 47 knows how to pull a carefully curated crowd. Casual fine dining beneath twinkly soft lighting and grand art work sets the scene for long dinners with fine wines and friends. The Hudson Valley Foie Gras with sweet roasted pears is a highlight, as is the wagyu with black trumpet mushrooms and the excellently executed cheese board.
If you have a hankering for a gourmet burger with truffle fries, then everyone who is anyone will flock to the Ajax Tavern. Not only is this Aspen institution eatery a lively spot for lunch, but you can be sure that there will be plenty of famous faces lingering over a cold craft beer.
Where to Play
There are only two words that matter in Aspen – apres ski. The oldest town in bar may not be the classiest, but The Red Onion is a must for anyone looking for an alternative to caviar and champagne. Mexican bites and craft brews bring the town back to it’s cowboy roots. If you prefer to stick with the finery then the Aspen Mountain Club will see you sipping prosecco with captains of industry, and The Caribou Club is for members only, but a weeks pass will get you through the coveted doors to sip scotch in style.
When you aren’t skiing down Snowmass or Ajax, snow shoeing over the mountains, or hitting the gut wrenching slopes around Highland Bowl, you can unwind all those kinks and knots at the Remede Spa. Not only can you rest easy with the usual spa menu, but the infused oxygen mask treatments, chocolate boxes and prosecco makes for an offbeat addition.