By Eileen Ogintz
ASPEN, CO — 1889. That’s when the Hotel Jeromeopened in Aspen, as a boarding house for miners. Horses trotted through the lobby!
During World War II, troops training for the U.S. Army 10thMountain Division hung out at the downtown Aspen hotel’s famous J Bar, where today locals and tourists alike gather for burgers and drinks.
Today, there aren’t any horses in the lobby—just guest and many with their dogs, like our Trooper, who was greeted in our room with a comfy dog bed and two big bowls for water and food. I love that the “first round” of non- alcoholic drinks in the fridge and snacks including chips, beef jerky, trail mix and more are complimentary.
Today, the historic Aspen Times newspaper building is part of the space here. There is a new underground bar and lounge – Bad Harriet, named after the wife of the hotel’s original owner, Jerome Wheeler.
This summer, there is a pooch-friendly spot for lunch and dinner, and a pool and hot tub (no dogs there please). (Why did I forget our swim suits?) I like that the kids’ menus include grilled cheese on 7-grain bread (will the kids notice?), grille “natural” BBQ chicken and organic eggs for breakfast.
For grown ups there is the oh-so-trendy avocado toast for breakfast complete with eggs, shiitake mushrooms and house made toast… as well l as blended veggie juice, omelets and house-smoked salmon.
The hotel is in downtown Aspen and became an Auberge Resort in 2001; it is small—just 93 rooms within walking distance of Ajax mountain, shops, restaurants and a great dog park nearby, where Trooper romped around off-leash with dozen of local and visiting “frens” just before dinner. Did I mention the bellman will drive you where you want to go? That you can borrow a Mercedes for four hours to explore on your own?
The hotel is historic with all the 21stCentury amenities today’s upscale guests want—a spa, iPod docking stations, Nespresso coffee machines, a leather chest that doubles as a fridge, contemporary artwork from regional artists and pieces highlighting the hotel’s history from the Aspen Historical Society
During the height of Aspen’s boomtown silver-mining era in the 1890s, the Jerome had the only bathroom in town open to the public and had the only elevator in town. It was one of the first buildings west of the Mississippi to have electric lighting.
The hotel was popular in the 1950s for actors like Gary Cooper and John Wayne—and later, the founding of the Aspen Institute, the Aspen Ski Company and the Aspen Music Festival.
There are seasonal Auberge Adventures for hotel guests.
But the best is the “Living Room,” a wonderful place to relax after a day of hiking and dog walking in this beautiful mountain town.