Mariah Carey, Jack Nicholson, Kate Hudson
Reason to Stay
Ski-in/Ski-Out, Apres-Ski Scene, Gourmet Restaurant
It's undoubtedly one of America's most famous hotels for those that frequent St. Tropez and Montauk in the summer and St. Barts and Aspen in the winter. Wearing their Moncler and Chanel Ski ensembles, snow bunnies and CEOs descend on this cozy luxury hotel nestled near the Silver Queen Gondola in one of the best ski-in/ski-out locations in Aspen village. Its lobby is a hotbed of showy socializing in a setting that mixes the charm of a country inn with the panache of a luxury hotel. The main lobby and its Living Room bar is decorated in muted beige tones and natural stonework with comfy overstuffed couches and club chairs arranged around a crackling fireplace with views of the modest pool deck and mountainside.
By afternoon, the après-ski and happy hour action comes to you, inside the Terrace Bar with its walls adorned in Vitalli-esqe Aspen landscapes and Alpine-chic style that makes even a true style-snob feel at home. During the evening, the in-house restaurant is a well-known hot spot for locals on outing from their sprawling ski chalets – with plans in the works for a new formal eatery come late-2012. A great fitness center adjoins a spa that could use an expansion, or easier access to the outdoor pool deck with its single whirlpool that's the one weak point of what's easily America's greatest ski hotel.
While many beckon to ask on a sold-out January weekend, "What's so special about Little Nell?" The answer is only found as an actual guest where a week prior to visiting the concierge calls to make reservations for you. Lifts from the airport as well as area ski mountains are complimentary – in vehicles that are an Escalade or better. A ski concierge delivers warm boots, lift passes and hot coffee without missing a beat. Rooms benefit from a revamp in 2009 by Holly Hunt, one of America's true design talents, that mixes a muted sophistication of warm woodwork, elegant but functional seating areas and cushy beds. A standout design includes well-planned closets fit for multi-week stays and bathrooms with separate soaking tubs and stall showers. Finicky travellers should book into a room category of Premium Room or higher, offering loftier ceilings and roomier architecture that's well worth the upgrade.
Trendy Clientele, Mountainside Location, Ski Concierge
Restaurant, Lounge, Pool, Bar