The Ultimate Luxury Guide to Aspen, Colorado
With its spectacular hiking and ski trails, world-class shopping, and some of the greatest food and wine culture in the United States, Aspen is a small mountain town with a lot of character.
We’ve rounded up the best luxury Aspen hotels, local spots you shouldn’t miss, and a restaurant hot list — not to mention where to après-ski, and activities for both the warmer and colder seasons. Our guide will help you feel at home among the locals and A-listers who frequent this sophisticated Colorado town.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Aspen, Colorado
Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection
Hotel Jerome is full of rich history and incredible charm. It was established as the area’s very first hotel when Aspen was just a small mining town, and it is still located in the original building, dating back more than 120 years. It is now owned and operated by Auberge Resorts Collection, making it a fabulous place to stay in Aspen. Located in the heart of town, it is just a short walk from the best restaurants and nightlife.
Amenities include a swanky spa where you can unwind after a long day of hiking or skiing (or shopping). In addition, the hotel conveniently offers in-house ski rentals through Gorsuch. The decor is an eclectic mix of Old West Aspen chic, with brown leather couches and dark wood accents.
There are two restaurants on the premises. Prospect is known for its delicious breakfast and gorgeous patio lunches, while The Living Room is a great place to cozy up by the fireplace and order warm sourdough pretzel bites. In addition, Hotel Jerome recently announced the return of its newly updated, cocktail bar and speakeasy concept, Bad Harriet. Beginning December 18th, 2021, guests can reserve ‘The Soiree’ experience, which includes handcrafted cocktails made by master mixologists paired with savory small bites.
The Little Nell
Practically everyone who visits Aspen stops into The Little Nell, the iconic hotel located at the base of Aspen Mountain. It’s the town’s only ski-in, ski-out property, which makes it a favorite hotel of die-hard skiers. It also has fantastic restaurants, a wild après-ski scene, and an enviable contemporary art collection. Each of the 92 rooms has gorgeous Alpine-inspired design, a fireplace, high ceilings, and heated marble floors in the bathrooms. Many rooms have balconies overlooking the slopes, so you can watch skiers make their way down the mountain.
As the sun begins to set, skiers flock to the patio at Ajax Tavern, known for great local craft beers, a fantastic raw bar, and incredible truffle fries. For dinner, head to Element 47, the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, which offers a decadent four-course tasting menu. Moreover, Element 47 has a notable contemporary art collection featuring original abstract works, as well as an impressive 20,000-bottle wine collection. Be sure to ask about visiting the cellar to take a peek. If you’re not an avid skier, or you’re visiting in the warmer months, the hotel’s adventure program offers a range of outdoor activities. Dogsledding, snowshoeing, fly-fishing, and off-roading tours are just a few of the vast variety of options available.
The St. Regis Aspen Resort
Nestled at the bottom of Aspen Mountain, between the gondola and the ski lift, the St. Regis Aspen Resort boasts stunning, European-inspired red brick architecture. The hotel has 179 rooms decked out in plush leather furnishings with grand, winged beds. Bathrooms are equipped with deep soaking tubs to soothe sore muscles after a day on the slopes. Don’t forget to request a room with a marble fireplace, especially in the winter.
The top suite is the 1,900-square-foot Presidential Suite, which comes with St. Regis’s famed butler service. But the star of the show is Remède Spa, the most incredible spa in Aspen, if not all of Colorado. Its targeted treatment menu includes the relaxing Rocky Mountain Vibes Massage. It also features a CBD-infused massage to prevent injuries after a rigorous hike or a long day of skiing. After that, check out the hot tubs, the plunge pools, and oxygen therapy in the relaxation room, which helps acclimation to Aspen’s altitude.
The St. Regis Aspen has three wonderful restaurants. As a tribute to the mountaineers who put down roots in the Rockies in the 1800s, Velvet Buck uses local ingredients and primitive cooking methods. Every day at 5pm you can catch the hotel’s general manager saber a bottle of Champagne at Mountain Social Bar & Lounge. Order the steak frites to enjoy with your bubbly. Chef’s Club by Food & Wine hosts visiting chefs each season. Consequently, you’ll have a new and unique dining experience with every trip to Aspen.
Rent a Luxury Home
Traveling to Aspen with a large group, or staying for an extended period of time? Aspen has no shortage of breathtaking homes for rent. For instance, Hayden Creekside Home is a magnificent 12-acre residence stunning in its natural beauty and accommodations..
Both Airbnb Luxe and VRBO feature beautiful homes, and the selection can differ. Therefore, you should check both. If you’re looking for a more full-service experience, Airbnb Luxe offers trip designers who can arrange add-on services — such as housekeeping, a driver, and childcare, to name a few. Select VRBO rentals also offer concierge services.
Staying in Aspen between June and September? We recommend stocking your refrigerator with fresh produce from Aspen farmers market, open every Saturday from 8:30am to 1pm. Want a private chef to cook for you in the comfort of your home? Eddu & Chefs comes highly recommended with 30 years of experience in Aspen Valley.
The Aspen Restaurant Hit-List
This chic restaurant brings a bit of St. Barths’ beachside glamour to the Rocky Mountains. Betula opened in December 2018 as a collaboration between the co-owners of Bonito St. Barths, chef Laurent Cantineaux and architect and proprietor Juan Carlos Pérez Febres. Betula is glamorous but warm and welcoming — the intimate couch seating is lit by candlelight. It has a long list of stylish cocktails, such as the Bubbling Bonito with a French Champagne. If you’re a tequila drinker, try the Añejo À La Mode. Chef Cantineaux trained at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris and New York. His cuisine blends French and Pan-American traditions in inspired dishes like Ceviche Bonito, with leche de tigre, canachas, and ají limo, as well as elk carpaccio, served Nikkei style. Exhausted after a day on the slopes? The full menu is available for takeout.
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa is known worldwide for his fabulous Nobu and Matsuhisa restaurants where you can find incredible sushi and inventive dishes blending Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. Forget the rule about not eating fish if you aren’t near the ocean. Even in a little mountain town, the fish at Matsuhisa never disappoints. The restaurant is cozy and more casual than his flagship restaurants in London, New York, and Los Angeles. Nevertheless, reservations are in high demand, so book in advance.
Since opening in 1987, Cache Cache has become a veritable Aspen institution. It is helmed by general manager Jodi Larner. This eclectic bistro, located in central downtown Aspen, is known for pairing local ingredients and classical French cuisine with an American spin. In addition, it has an impressive wine program overseen by sommelier Alexandre Harvier. Harvier has amassed a 6,000-bottle collection that brings the wine list to 100 pages. In the summer, Cache Cache has outdoor seating on its charming patio.
Campo de Fiori
Aspen has a unique, almost magical atmosphere, and Campo de Fiori is a restaurant that really showcases this magic. Chef Giuseppe Garfalo brings his Italian roots with him, serving superb cuisine featuring ingredients sourced from his homeland. Although the menu changes seasonally, you can expect such dishes as fresh burrata with tomato confit, an extensive pasta menu, and roasted lamb with fresh herbs. For date nights, Campo de Fiori has cozy corners that can be rather romantic. There are also long tables perfect for a get-together with good friends or a convivial family meal.
If you’re not staying at the historic Hotel Jerome, be sure to stop in for lunch at its rustic restaurant, Prospect. Prospect embraces Aspen’s history as a mining town with charming Old West-inspired decor and hearty fare worthy of tiding over local prospectors of yesteryear. In addition, it has fresh farm-to-table dishes and a lovely patio. Accompanied by a chilled bottle of Sancerre, it’s the perfect spot for a relaxing summer lunch.
Local Hangouts in Aspen
No frills, nothing fancy, but boy, are you going to leave happy after eating at Poppycocks. There is always a wait but trust us, it’s worth it. Locals will tell you that it is practically illegal to leave Aspen without trying the famous oatmeal buttermilk pancakes. Can’t get enough? Luckily, you can buy the mix and make them at home.
White House Tavern
A Hillstone Group venture, White House Tavern is an Aspen staple. It occupies the historic A.G. Sheppard House, originally built in 1883 as a miner’s cottage. To this day, it is one of the oldest remaining historic buildings in Aspen. However, the charm doesn’t stop there. Upon entering through the iconic red door, you are greeted with cozy booths, high-beamed wood ceilings, and iconic photos of Aspen’s humble beginnings. Tuck into classics like the French dip or the crispy chicken sandwich. Also, be sure to pair with a local beer. With its central location and cozy vibe, it’s the perfect spot for an après-ski lunch.
Paradise Bakery is the best place to get a sweet treat, and the always-present line speaks for itself. Beginning at 6:30am, the smell of freshly baked croissants and other goodies wafts down the street, enticing passersby to stop in. No matter the season, drop in for an ice-cream/cookie combo. It’s simply divine.
The Best Luxury Experiences and Things To Do in Aspen
Everyone knows that where you après-ski is just as, if not more, important as where you ski. Aspen is famous for having one of the best après-ski scenes around. A ski-in, ski-out restaurant, Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, brings a European feel to the Colorado Rockies. Après-ski may sound fancy, but don’t let that fool you — Cloud Nine can get wild. Expect to be popping Champagne as early as 1pm. Just be a good sport if the neighboring table sprays some on you. Another classic après spot is Ajax Tavern at the Little Nell. At the base of the slopes, Ajax is a perfect place to warm up with tomato soup or indulge in a Wagyu double cheeseburger, paired with a local beer or hot toddy.
Dante brings New York flair to Aspen in a collaboration with Snowlodge. Dante has been called the world’s best bar, and rightfully so. It serves up some of the best cocktails in Aspen. For instance, the “halfway spritz” combines Italian vermouth, raspberry brandy, Aperitivo, and Whispering Angel rosé.
For a more sophisticated and relaxed atmosphere, check out The Wine Bar at the Little Nell. The experienced sommeliers can help you pick the perfect bottle after a day on the mountain. The Wine Bar is currently at the Little Nell’s Cloud 9 bar, which has changed its operations due to Covid-19 restrictions.
What to Do in Aspen in the Summer
Although Aspen is primarily known as one of the best ski towns in the US, very few places are as gorgeous as Aspen in the summer. During the warmer months, activities abound — most of which involve the lush nature that surrounds the town.
If you like to hike, you’ve come to the right place. From advanced trails to leisurely nature-filled walks, there’s an option for almost everyone. Our favorite is Maroon Bells, named for the peaks overlooking Maroon Lake. It is one of the most photographed places in all of Colorado. Conundrum, Tom Blake, and Cathedral Lake are other noteworthy hiking trails. If you’re an advanced hiker, it’s well worth taking the 8.5-mile hike to the Conundrum Hot Springs, a geothermal hot spring that stays naturally warm during the months of July through September.
Other summer activities that we recommend: a trip to T-7 Lazy Ranch for a trail ride, whitewater rafting, floating, kayaking, and canoeing on the upper Roaring Fork Valley down to the North Star Preserve. The Rio Grande trail is perfect for a long bike ride and a picnic. Food and wine connoisseurs should plan a visit around the summer Food & Wine Classic, put on by Food & Wine magazine. This three-day culinary event brings together some of the world’s most celebrated winemakers, chefs, and culinary experts. During this annual event, they demonstrate cooking techniques and host extravagant meals and wine tastings.
What to Do in Aspen in the Winter
Skiing is one of the biggest draws of visiting Aspen in the winter. For a masterful skier, Aspen Mountain is the way to go. Less-experienced skiers should head to nearby Snowmass, which has green runs and bunny slopes. Not to worry — if you don’t ski or if you want to take a break, there are plenty of other great activities to do in the winter. The Aspen Art Museum holds world-class contemporary art exhibitions year-round. In addition, O2 — part yoga studio, part spa — is a beautiful place to relax and recenter. You can schedule a private Pilates or yoga session, then have a lovely facial or massage without leaving the premises.
Krabloonik Mountain Dining & Dogsledding is a surreal experience. Each sled, which can carry a small child and two adults, speeds through the backcountry of Snowmass by a pack of Alaskan Huskies and an experienced guide. It offers morning and afternoon dog sled rides, a twilight ride under the stars, as well as an ATV safari. After your ride, you get to meet the Huskies and learn about the training techniques the guides use to ensure the health and wellbeing of the dogs. It’s very kid-friendly and a great activity for the family. After that, there’s a rustic restaurant on site, as you’ll likely work up an appetite.
Known for its exceptional shopping, Aspen’s best stores are right in the center of town and within walking distance of each other. First off, no trip to Aspen is complete without a stop at Kemo Sabe, which sells luxury and customizable leather goods, such as cowboy boots, hats, belts, and other Western accessories. In addition, it also has an incredible collection of vintage jewelry. Pitkin County Dry Goods is a great local boutique where you can find designer denim and cashmere sweaters, and it’s a perfect place to shop for gifts.
If you especially love high fashion, Gucci, Prada, and Dior are just a few steps away. Moreover, some even have Aspen-exclusive items. Little Bird is a high-end consignment shop stocked with priceless vintage finds, and it’s rumored to house some exquisite Chanel pieces. Dallas-based Forty Five Ten opened an Aspen outpost and made quite the impression with its admirable list of ready-to-wear labels for both men and women. In addition, it boasts an edgy and eclectic collection of coffee-table books. In the winter, Gorsuch is the best place to buy luxe ski apparel that’s chic enough to wear both on the slopes and après-ski. As for beauty, you’ll want to check out Cos Bar, which has been an Aspen staple since 1976 and stocks only the best products.
Whether you want to just get a casual drink or go out dancing with friends, Aspen has plenty to offer after-hours. If you’re looking for a drink with a view, The W Rooftop is a fun and versatile option, with a fireplace to cozy up to over cocktails in the colder months and a pool to lay by during the summer. Looking to dance to some good music? Look no further than Bootsy Bellows or Escobar, both of which offer private tables and bottle service.
While Bootsy Bellows and Escobar cater to a younger crowd, 7908 Aspen is a more sophisticated option. It is Aspen’s first supper club — a place to eat, drink, and dance well into the night. Belly Up is a premier live music venue and bar known for its legendary comedy shows and concerts featuring A-list performers. Last but certainly not least, the high-end members-only Caribou Club is a favorite among Aspen regulars and is regarded highly for its inventive menu and decadent parties. The bar opens at 6:30pm, the DJ starts spinning at 10pm, and guests tend to dance until the wee hours of the night.