L'Etoile Guide to Aspen
Aspen is a destination for snowbirds of all sorts–with four mountains to choose from, a robust arts scene, and a well-curated food and après-ski scene. The small town brings together the best of the outdoors and city life, with a bevy of gourmet dining and luxury hotels to boot.
For those looking for the perfect winter destination, here’s our insider guide to Aspen’s most desirable destinations–from the chicest spots to stay to the best places to dine, apres and shop.
Where to Stay in Aspen
The Little Nell: Aspen’s only ski-in/ski-out resort lives up to its “Beyond Luxury” mantra, and offers all the amenities you’d need for a dreamy winter getaway. Think First Tracks access to Aspen mountain an hour early, in-room massages, grocery service, and easy access to famed Ajax Tavern & Element 47. With 92 incredibly spacious rooms and suites (starting at 600 square feet) impeccably curated by A-list designers Holly Hunt and Alexandra Champalimud in soothing shades of blue, tan and gray, it’s impossible not to feel at home — that is, if home had gas log fireplaces and epic slopeside views. Plus, there’s no better way to unwind after a day on the mountain than with a dip in the Nell’s outdoor hot tub, followed by an après-ski session at their award-winning wine cellar or one of their two speakeasies.
Hotel Jerome: Voted the top hotel in the West by Conde Nast Traveler, the Jerome quickly charms anyone who crosses its threshold with its classic Americana touches, from original tile floors to doormen in cowboy hats and Navajo-inspired accents. Opened in 1889, the property is Aspen’s sole surviving hotel from the silver boom, and it's stayed authentic and in style for good reason. With 93 deluxe rooms, spacious suites and residential style lodgings overlooking the slopes from floor-to-ceiling windows, there’s a space to suit every type of traveler — not to mention a boutique spa and a destination cocktail bar beneath the Aspen Times, where you can kick back with a bespoke concoction after a day of adventuring.
Where to Eat in Aspen
La Crêperie du Village: Aspen’s chicest French alpine bistro is the perfect place to cozy up along a candlelit communal table or tuck yourself into one of the banquettes under the vintage gallery wall. The romantic-yet-rustic spot specializes in crepes and fondue, bringing together all the best parts of a charming ski chalet.
Pine Creek Cookhouse: This historic log-cabin restaurant sits at the base of the Elk Mountains, immersed in a wild landscape with unparalleled views which you can hike, snowshoe, cross-country ski or ride through in a horse-driven sleigh in order to reach Pine Creek Cookhouse. Specializing in fish and wild game, the restaurant is a foodie and nature lover’s dream.
Things to Do in Aspen
Skiing and Snowboarding: Home to four unparalleled mountains, there’s terrain for every sort of outdoor adventure, from cross-country skiing through the 60 mile Aspen Nordic Trail System to hitting the steep downhills on Aspen Mountain (locally known as Ajax). While those in the know tend to prefer Aspen Highlands for its being slightly more off-the-beaten-path and home to the most double-black-diamond trails, other freestyle skiers will prefer Buttermilk’s seven terrain parks and family-friendly trails.
Hiking on Maroon Bells: One of Aspen’s most breathtaking backdrops, Maroon Bells is easily reached by a short, non-strenuous hike that makes it an ideal afternoon in nature for all ages and activity levels. A glimpse of the peaks’ jagged reflection in Maroon Lake is worth the trip alone, and the various trails — ranging from 1.5 to 13 miles round trip — offer views just as majestic, with wildflower meadows in the fall and snowy paths in winter. While Maroon Bells road is only open May through October, hikers can still access the area all winter long if they’re up for the 6 mile trek to get there and back.
Where to Après-Ski in Aspen
Ajax Tavern: Little Nell’s après-ski bar is a must-visit on any trip to Aspen, whether you’re hitting the slopes or not. Nestled at the base of Aspen (“Ajax”) Mountain, it’s where well-heeled snowbirds — still clad in their ski boots — gather for upscale food with a laid-back atmosphere and the best view of the mountain. Don’t skip the truffle tries.
Aspen Brewing Company: For a casual and classic alternative to the glitzier après scene, head straight to Aspen Brewing Co. for the best locally-brewed craft beers, sourdough pizzas and good vibes. If you’re in a group (or feeling thirsty), order a flight served in a ski that you can tip back while enjoying views over the mountains.
Where to Shop in Aspen
Performance Ski: A luxury ski wear retailer that stands above the rest in this perennially-chic mountain town, Performance Ski houses difficult-to-find European brands — think Frauenschuh’s perfect winter whites to piles of vibrant Elder Statesman cashmere — plus all the snow gear and accessories you could need.
Perch: When it comes to shopping for your life off the slope, Perch is the spot. This boutique is filled with the perfect mix of sophisticated and casual wear that you can wear anywhere, from a mountain weekend to a night on the town. And if you are looking for a L’Eoile ski sweater, you’ll find it here.