Aspen has long been the playground for the rich and famous, but even in a town awash with luxury hotels and exclusive chalets, there is one standout place to stay; The Little Nell. Nestled at the base of the Aspen Mountain, the 92-room boutique hotel is the only ski in/ out property in the infamous town. It’s also the only hotel with both a five star and five diamond rating, awards duly deserved as we found out during a recent winter getaway.
The stunning hotel’s first-class design, amenities and hospitality go above and beyond, the property manages to feel intimate yet fun and is much of a destination as the beautiful mountains that look down on it.
Aspen COVID-19 requirements: Aspen Skiing Company is implementing vaccination requirements in various locations. Starting November 25, guests staying at The Little Nell and dining at Element 47, Ajax Tavern and The Wine Bar must be fully vaccinated.
Unrivalled: The stunning hotel’s first-class design, amenities and hospitality go above and beyond, the property manages to feel intimate yet fun and is much of a destination as the beautiful mountains that look down on it.
From mining town to posh playground:
Long before Aspen became a glitzy world-class ski resort, it was a rugged silver mining outpost that boomed during the late 1800s before going bust several decades later. The economy collapsed and the town’s hardscrabble population dwindled until the 1940s when two savvy businessmen sought to capitalize on the fledgling American ski industry.
Over the years, Aspen turned into a hub for art, music, literature and food. The cozy town cradled by miles and miles of sun-soaked slopes has become a destination for socialites, movie stars and every stripe of corporate C.E.O.
Just ask any longtime local and you’re bound to hear a story about sitting next to Jack Nicholson at the bar, Mariah Carey shopping at the local Louis Vuitton, or spotting Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell stroll down the street.
Catering to the glitterati are a string of luxury shops that rival Madison Avenue: Gucci, Christian Dior, Prada, Moncler, Fendi, and Ralph Lauren. Chanel salopettes? Check. Fendi printed skis? Check.
In addition to upscale shopping, a delightful culinary scene and robust nightlife, Aspen boasts its very own ballet, opera house, symphony and contemporary art museum.
For those interested in outdoor adventure, the Rocky Mountain destination city is a hive of activity for every season: skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, biking, hiking, fly fishing and climbing.
Whether you’re in town for skiing, culture, dining, or recreation, every Aspenite can agree that there is no better place to stay than at The Little Nell- where almost anything can be arranged through its first class concierge service.
The only place to stay is The Little Nell:
Nestled in the heart of town, The Little Nell is tucked away at the base of Aspen Mountain (also known as Ajax), surrounded by upscale shops, art galleries, and tony après-ski hotspots. Equipment rentals are readily available at Four Mountain Sports across the street and everything in town is within walking distance.
Guests arrive at the lodge’s unassuming covered porte-cochère where a team of eager bellhops help with valet and luggage. Once inside, guests are greeted by a warm fireplace and inviting lounge area as an expert member from the concierge team checks you in.
The hotel is known for its impeccable service which is amiable, genuine, and most importantly, discreet.
The concierge makes every activity from skiing to dinner reservations magically easy – an no request is too small or large to accommodate. Want to sit shotgun on a grooming snowcat down the mountain? You got it. Want to join Ski Patrol on their last run of the day as they shut down the mountain? Sure. Craving drunken pizza from Aspen’s local late night spot? They have got you covered there too.
On par with St. Mortiz, Courchevel, Davos and Charmonix; Aspen is considered one of the ritziest and most famous ski towns in the world
When it comes to details, The Little Nell leaves no stone unturned. Basic amenities include: 24-hour in-room dining, turndown service, same day dry cleaning, on call physicians, oxygen rental (in case of altitude sickness), personal shopping, packing and unpacking services, and daily newspapers delivered to your doorstep.
Guests are offered complimentary airport pickup and free transportation around town. There also provide complimentary shuttles to Aspen Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk Mountain, which are about 20 minutes down the road.
By far, The Little Nell’s most popular amenity is the ‘Ski Concierge’ which stores your equipment and heats your boots overnight. The office, located on the second floor, opens right onto Ajax Mountain where the Silver Queen Gondola is just steps away. The dedicated staff is ready to provide assistance with all your ski and snowboard needs from arranging lessons to organizing gear rentals, equipment repair and tips on how to navigate the mountain. They’re also quick to offer a helping hand in the impossible (sometimes embarrassing) struggle of taking off your boots at the end of the day.
In the summer, guests are welcome to ride road bikes at liberty, or enjoy drinks and snacks while lounging poolside on the patio.
Meanwhile, four-legged guests are welcomed in style with pet-friendly rooms and a ‘Puppy Jet Lag Kit,’ which comes complete with a Little Nell leash and homemade peanut butter dog treats. A specialty pet-menu serves gourmet canine food like wagyu beef, chicken breast and salmon.
Apres ski at The Little Nell:
The Little Nell is famously the most luxurious of Aspen’s resorts which makes sense that it’s become the stomping ground of the very well-healed ‘see-and-be-seen’ après ski crowd.
The understated elegance of the newly renovated wine bar serves as the backdrop for the best people watching in Aspen. Friends sip hot toddies and enjoy truffles fries. A group of women dressed in fur jackets and leather pants cheers over a bottle of Krug and snack on a shared plate of spiced carrot hummus. They’re wearing Bogner, Moncler, Canada Goose, and Obermeyer ski gear, leather leggings, and hand knit wool sweaters.
The newly renovated bar in Aspen, formerly Chair 9, sets the stage for intimate gatherings with its lounge-style ambiance providing plush couches and seating areas for parties up to 8 people. Aesthetically designed, guests will be delighted by the relaxing atmosphere and listening to DJs spinning vinyl records.
The Little Nell is an après ski hot spot and one of the best people-watching spots in town. I was surprised by how happening every hotel venue was after the lifts would shut down for the day. The lobby bar, called The Living Room, was busy with groups of friends enjoying a bold red or sparking rosé at low tables and around the fireplace.
This is a crowd that pulls from the global elite, but you can’t judge a book by its cover at The Little Nell, because individuality is a virtue among these ranks. They’re talking about the charity circuit in Palm Beach as much as the great band they discovered at Coachella or a DJ in Ibiza. They’re wearing Bogner, Moncler, Canada Goose, and Obermeyer ski gear, leather leggings, and hand knit wool sweaters.
And once you head to your bedroom the luxury certainly doesn’t stop. Whether you go for a ‘Town side’, ‘Mountain side’ or a suite, all of the rooms feature neutral hues, luxurious fabrics, gas log fireplaces, deep soaking tubs with all-natural “First Tracks” June Jacobs spa products and custom-designed furniture that ensures for a calming and restorative ambiance; they’re ‘a little bit comfortable chic, a little bit private art collection’, as the hotel describes.
It goes without saying that room service will cater to your every need from delivering family amenities like cribs, strollers and Playstations to catering to all your late-night munchie desires.
Design dream: All the bedrooms and suites feature calming neutral tones and plush fabrics: ‘a little bit comfortable chic, a little bit private art collection’, as the hotel describes
Ultimate comfort: The rooms have gas log fireplaces and deep soaking tubs to ensure ultimate relaxation after an active day on the slopes
Room with a view: The 92-room boutique hotel is nestled at the base of the Aspen Mountain and offers direct ski in/ out access to the slopes
Aspen’s crowning jewel: A destination in itself, The Little Nell is the town’s only hotel with both a five star and a five diamond star rating
The Little Nell ensures your stay is nourished in every way, and that of course includes some excellent dining. After a thrilling day on the slopes, hand over your equipment to the ski concierge very conveniently found at the base of the mountain and head straight over to the AJAX Tavern next door which features a sun-drenched terrace and a stylish, yet low-key bar restaurant. Flop into plush red booths and enjoy their famous onion soup gratinée ($19) or wagyu cheeseburger ($27).
From slopes to social: Head to the AJAX Tavern’s sun-drenched terrace to catch up with friends
Low-key yet stylish: Flop into the comfy booths at the AJAX restaurant bar and warm up with friends over some onion soup gratinée or a wagyu cheeseburger
See and be seen: The Little Nell is an après ski hot spot and one of the best people-watching spots in town
The hotel’s fine dining offering is the elegant Element 47 restaurant. Start the day with coffee, winter vegetable scramble ($23) or Emma farms wagyu enchiladas ($27) whilst reading the local Aspen Daily News which, in typically Aspen socialite fashion, features the tagline ‘If you don’t want it printed, don’t let it happen.’
For dinner the ambiance has after-dark allure with guests indulging in dishes of kampachi crudo, Rosen Farms lamb, local squash and deserts of chocolate + orange entremets and house-spun ice creams. Three course prix fixe costs $125, add wine pairing for $150, or go full Aspen with bottles of Dom Pérignon.
Wine and dine: Experience impeccable service and dining at the hotel’s chic restaurant Element 47
Start and end your day right at the Element 47 restaurant which uses the very best products and produce from local sources. Breakfast specialties include winter vegetable scramble ($23) or Emma farms wagyu enchiladas ($27) whilst dinner is a three course prix fixe affair which costs $125
Just when we thought our Little Nell stay couldn’t get any more exclusive, they took it up a notch with a private wine tasting experience in their cellar. Having been led through a back door, across the carpark, we found ourselves in the The Red Light Lounge. A perfect way to celebrate a special occasion, the red lit 20,000-bottle wine cellar is intimate and has a rather naughty air about it.
Let your personal extremely well-versed sommelier pull some of the world’s most sought after wines straight off the shelves (depending on your budget of course) whilst you nibble on selection of house-cured meats and local cheeses. Immortalize your experience by adding your signature to the infamous walls where you’ll be next to some very famous names indeed.
Must do: Make sure you mark a special occasion with a private wine tasting session in their infamous red cellar
Fun! A perfect way to celebrate a special occasion, the red lit 20,000-bottle wine cellar is intimate and has a rather naughty air about it
Other restaurants in town:
French Alpine Bistro:
‘It’s the smallest big town in the world,’ said the Austrian-born local restaurateur, Karin Derly. As proprietress of The French Alpine Bistro, Derly sought to recreate the cozy atmosphere of Alpine chalets to her romantic candle-lit hideaway in the center of town.
A mélange of old-world antiques and sheepskin covered seats creates an intimate backdrop at The Bistro for world-class chefs to serve gooey fondue alongside a spectacular wine menu. Other popular menu items are the Argentine sea bass with provençal vegetable ragout & lemon butter sauce ($59), the truffle gnocchi-flette ($46) and of course you have to try a buckwheat crêpe from Brittany ($26).
In one word, Derly describes the ambiance as ‘gemütlich’ – German for warmth, friendliness, and comfort. It’s no surprise that tastemakers like Aerin Lauder call it their ‘favorite place in town.’ The female-led restaurant is authentic, from the trinklets that Derly and her father search the Austrian vintage shops for every year, to the obvious passion of the long-standing staff.
Must visit: Austrian-born local restaurateur, Karin Derly created the cozy atmosphere of Alpine chalets at her romantic candle-lit restaurant French Alpine Bistro in the center of town
Alpine chic: A mélange of old-world antiques and sheepskin covered seats creates an intimate backdrop at The Bistro for world-class chefs to serve gooey fondue alongside a spectacular wine menu
After a cold day on the mountain heat things up with a taste of Latin America over at CHICA, the latest offering from 50 Eggs Hospitality Group which also has restaurants in Las Vegas and Miami. Led by celebrity chef Lorena Garcia, CHICA Aspen, which just opened its doors in December 2021, is a fun and vibrant place to share plates of Peruvian corvina ceviche ($22), wagyu quesa-birria empanada ($22), lobster mac & cheese (MP) and meyer lemon chicken ($32) whilst working your way through their imaginative cocktail menu.
Lively! After a cold day on the mountain heat things up with a taste of Latin America over at CHICA
Delicious: Enjoy plates of Peruvian corvina ceviche and wagyu quesa-birria empanada- but leave room for the piece de resistance, a flaming chocolate skull!
Eat, drink and dance over at 7908, one of Aspen’s most legendary nightspots. The place has style, with a cool décor and very fun atmosphere (the dinner buzz turns to full party mode once the dancefloor quickly packs out), but it has substance too.
Celebrity chef Byron Gomez (who completed on Bravo’s Top Chef: Portland) has created a menu masterpiece with dishes of halibut and white wine miso sauce ($58) and fried chicken thighs in chili honey glaze ($38).
Meanwhile sommelier, Jonathan Pullis (one of only 250 Master Sommelier’s world wide) will ensure your culinary experience is truly elevated. The man responsible for you letting loose on the dancefloor and downing tequila from a shotski? That’s Spirits Director Matt Corbin who has created an incredibly innovative, and delicious, craft cocktail menu. Espresso martini on tap anyone?
Party time! Eat, drink and dance over at 7908, one of Aspen’s most legendary nightspots.
Exquisite: Celebrity chef Byron Gomez has created a menu masterpiece with dishes of halibut and white wine miso sauce and fried chicken thighs in chili honey glaze whilst Spirits Director Matt Corbin who has created an incredibly innovative, and delicious, craft cocktail offering
For an afternoon of culture make sure you wander over to the Aspen Art Museum where you can catch the Andy Warhol: Lifetimes exhibition until March 27th 2022. The major retrospective features more than 200 of Warhol’s works spanning his whole career. You’ll recognize the infamous pieces yes but you’ll also become acquainted with lesser-known aspects of his work and persona.
Designed by renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the new AAM building which was completed in 2014, is a serene space which displays art across three floors. End at the top floor bar and enjoy a glass of organic wine whilst looking out onto the 360 degree sweeping views of the snow-capped mountains.
Culture destination: The Aspen Art Museum is currently showing the Andy Warhol: Lifetimes exhibition until March 27th 2022
Warhol wonder: The major retrospective features more than 200 of the famous American artist’s s works spanning his whole career. Head to the top floor bar afterwards to sip on organic wine and take in sweeping views of the snow-capped mountains
Of course, it would be remiss to ignore the boundless outdoor treasures the Rocky Mountains have to offer. For those interested in recreation, Aspen is a hive of activity in every season: skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, biking, hiking, fly fishing and climbing. Whatever your reason or season, ensure you get the very best out of your Aspen adventure by making The Little Nell home during your stay.
Fairytale: Aspen is referred to be the locals as ‘the smallest big town in the world’
American dream: Before Aspen became a glitzy world-class ski resort, it was a rugged silver mining outpost that boomed then went bust, before two savvy businessmen sought to capitalize on the fledgling American ski industry in the 1940s
Alluring: Over the years, Aspen turned into a hub for art, music, literature and food.
Winter playground: The sun-soaked slopes have become a destination for socialites, movie stars and every stripe of corporate C.E.O.
ASPEN TRAVEL FACT BOX
– Many major airlines like Delta, American Airlines, United and Southwest Airlines fly into Denver International Airport (DIA – 200 miles).
– It is around a four hour drive from Denver International Airport to Aspen. Car hire available is at the airport, as is private luxury SUV hire or you can take the Aspen Snowmass Shuttle.
– Aspen is also in close proximity to local airports—Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE), Eagle County Airport (EGE – 70 miles) and Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT – 130 miles)
– Winter room rates at The Little Nell start at $669 USD per night.
– Summer room rates at The Little Nell start at $439 USD per night.
– The Little Nell’s wine cellar experience starts at $500 per person.
– A day ski pass at Aspen Snowmass starts at $189 for adults and $131 for children, and can be purchased here.
– The ski chair passes are valid at all four of the mountains: Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Snowmass and Aspen Highlands.
– Ski and snowboard equipment can be rented from Four Mountain Sports here.
– Aspen COVID-19 requirements: Aspen Skiing Company is implementing vaccination requirements in various locations. Starting November 25, guests staying at The Little Nell and dining at Element 47, Ajax Tavern and The Wine Bar must be fully vaccinated.