Rugged luxury is an appealing concept, and Aspen, CO is its spiritual home. The traditional mountain lodge is given a boost with fur throws, luxurious leather furnishings, oversized artwork and dramatic light fixtures. If Ralph Lauren didn’t exactly invent it, he certainly perfected it. But outside of one of his showrooms, the place that exemplifies this looks best is the historic Hotel Jerome in downtown Aspen. Built in 1880 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the property is now operated by Auberge Resorts and was recently renovated to enter it into a new chapter of rugged luxe.
Often referred to as Aspen’s “Crown Jewel,” the stately brick hotel has long been a celebrity haunt. In the 1950s the likes of Gary Cooper and John Wayne stayed there during ski trips, while the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson used its J-Bar as his personal office for many years. Bill Murray and Jack Nicholson have often been spotted there as well. From the moment you are greeted by the Jerome’s doormen dressed in retro western gear, the property’s legendary reputation for fine hospitality makes itself known.
Inside, the J-Bar is immediately to the left, and it’s strongly tempting to follow in Hunter S. Thompson’s footsteps and start in on the whiskey upon arrival. Although a very pleasant place to while away an evening, the hotel’s lobby and living room, re-imagined by TAL Studio during the renovations, are some of the property’s best spaces. The soaring ceilings, vast fireplaces and grand architectural details are set off by leather furniture, huge oil portraits, rich antique wooden clocks and tables, taxidermy, framed antique American flags and lavish coffee-table books.
You don’t just want to check-in, you want to move in. The living room, with its amazing mix of modern Corbusier-style armchairs and plush Navajo rugs has its own little bar in the corner, and hotel guests often prefer to hide out there and just drink in the surroundings. The rooms are designed in a similar style, with luxurious furniture, artwork depicting Indian chiefs, high-end lighting fixtures, big leather-upholstered beds and marble baths.
The Jerome is so appealing there’s really no reason to wait for ski season in order to go. And the hotel has partnered with Mercedes-Benz on a drive program for guests who want to explore the area behind the wheel of something suitably stylish. Next up the Jerome is working on a new chapter, having taken over the Aspen Times building next door. When remodeled it will host an additional nine guest rooms.