Best Hotels in Colorado Ski Country
American tradition in Aspen, a James Bond feel in Vail, and a cozy ski vibe in Steamboat Springs: the sky’s the limit when you’re talking about notable accommodations in Colorado’s many Rocky Mountain ski towns. Here are a few interesting options.
675 Lionshead Pl, Vail, CO 81657, USA
We all have a mental image of upscale European alpine villages from countless spy movies and Vogue fashion shoots. There’s the little café with etched glass and women sipping Alsace with perfect hair and puffy parkas. The men are capable sorts, usually lean and well-traveled. Jet-setters, rich ski bums, and other dubious types mill around low-slung Citroëns with skis on the back, while the air feels charged with intrigue and adventure simmering under the laissez-faire insouciance. Sorta like the Arrabelle at Vail Square. “There’s no other place like this in North America that captures the iconic ambience of classic Old World European cities like Salzburg, Innsbruck, and Prague,” says John Dawsey, director of sales. “During the design phase, we really wanted to capture a feeling aligned with a cultured European central plaza.” The Arrabelle consists of 86 suites overlooking the town square, which converts into a skating rink in winter at the gondola base of Vail Mountain. The charm is in the details: working wood shutters, copper drainspouts, and subtle fairy-tale stenciling around the Bavarian Biedemeier-style architecture. The lobby’s windows are Czech, no less. Off the lobby, the Tavern is always buzzing with locals and visitors in the shadows sipping hot chocolate and Grand Marnier. The menu is meat-friendly. Try the Bone-in Veal Schnitzel with saffron risotto because that’s what spies and dangerous women eat.
330 E Main St, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
When it opened in 1889, the Jerome lured New York City socialites and European aristocrats with its mix of rough-and-tumble mountain swagger and “modern” amenities (plumbing and electricity). In December 2012, the 94-room property emerged from a five-month renovation overseen by designer Todd-Avery Lenahan. The original front desk remains, and the tile floors have patterns inspired by Ute Indian weavings. The new lobby bar, the Living Room, serves craft cocktails amid mounted deer heads, mining artifacts, and a framed antique American flag. The rooms and common spaces feel inspired by a Ralph Lauren men’s collection, with lots of plaid, leather, and rich fabrics. Even the elevators are lined with old leather belts. Minibars are stocked with complimentary snacks such as organic chocolate peanut butter cups, and downstairs, guests can dine in the Living Room, the signature restaurant Prospect, or the legendary J Bar, which once poured pints for 10th Mountain Division soldiers and Hunter S. Thompson. The new Jerome proves that a hotel can step into the future while completely respecting the past. This grande dame remains the epitome of mountain town luxury.
501 E Dean St, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
It doesn’t get better than The Residences at the Little Nell, with a prime location in downtown Aspen and ski-in/ski-out facilities. These two-to-four bedroom residences, operated by the Little Nell Hotel, have all the finest fixtures and details. The beds are so comfortable that it was hard to leave in the morning. The only thing that drew me out of bed was the thought of lounging on the rooftop pool. With the best views in Aspen, high above town, the rooftop pool is the essence of tranquility. The entire experience is the pinnacle of luxury.
709 East Durant Avenue
The outside of the Sky Hotel is very deceiving. It looks like any other lodge in Aspen and then when you go inside it is quite the opposite. As you walk into the lobby there are high-backed chairs that are white in front and red with white writing on the back. The carpet is a chaotic pattern of circles and bright color dots—it all seems like something out of Alice in Wonderland. This modern, hip motif is transferred to all the guest rooms. They have a bar on-site named 39 Degrees that is one of the best après ski spots. From Aspen Mountain you can practically ski into the bar. In the summer this is the hotspot on Sunday afternoon with a DJ spinning tunes and the pool open to the public for tomfoolery if you are eating or drinking at 39 Degrees. The whole hotel embodies a young, energetic vibe.
0130 Daybreak Ridge Rd, Avon, CO 81620, USA
High above Vail Valley, atop Beaver Creek Mountain, is the oasis that is the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. You can’t beat the hotel’s ski-in, ski-out access, but a major makeover at the end of 2013 means the hotel offers even more perks. The new look (think rustic lodgepole pine beams and huge stone fireplaces) was inspired by the great lodges found throughout America’s national parks. The work of Colorado artists can be found throughout the hotel. In addition to a new restaurant called Buffalos, there’s the new Bachelors Lounge that caters to wine and spirits lovers and cigar connoisseurs. Stylish guests with an expense account can outfit themselves in fancy new gear sold at the outpost of the alpine shop Gorsuch. My favorite perk is returning to the hotel at day’s end and being greeted with a hot cup of cocoa.
333 East Wonderview Avenue
This isn’t downhill ski country, but the nordic trails in and around Rocky Mountain National Park are remarkable. You can see the Stanley Hotel—which is actually a compound of white-painted buildings at the base of some enormous stone formations—from miles away as you roll into Estes Park. Built in 1909 as the private guest house of F.O. Stanley, it is now one of the most historic (and, say some, haunted) hotels in the country. It is famous for its role in Stephen King’s The Shining, but also for its proximity to the National Park, its partnership with local outfitter Kent Mountaineering, and for its pop-up weekend dinner club and extensive whiskey bar (over 1200 expressions and counting).