Inside Aspen's Hottest New Nightlife Venue At Hotel Jerome
The Hotel Jerome is like the Madonna of luxury hotels. It’s perennially at the top of its game yet constantly evolving to fit the needs of the modern consumer. Never one to rest on past accolades, this award-winning, storied property – a centuries-old fixture in the tony town of Aspen – is still as iconic as when it opened its doors in 1889, even as it moves forward into its next chapter.
As the bustling ski town enters high season, the 95-room hotel debuted the result of an ambitious enhancement project spanning new residential style guest suites, an updated outdoor area and a brand new acquisition – the 100-plus year old Aspen Times printing house next door. Hotel Jerome meticulously renovated the 1,432-square foot structure – taking pains to preserve its marquee facade – while adding Bad Harriet, a sexy underground cocktail lounge beneath the former newspaper building. The result is a glossy, art-deco-style subterranean refuge where fashionable scenesters can rub shoulders with other members of Aspen society while enjoying sophisticated cocktails and snacks.
Named for Harriet Wheeler, wife of the hotel’s original developer and proprietor, Jerome B. Wheeler, Bad Harriet is a cheeky narrative twist to Mrs. Wheeler’s otherwise well-behaved persona while honoring trailblazing women from the hotel’s history. “Harriet Wheeler was educated and uptight, so we turned her into this tough woman, a diva,” says Tony DiLucia, general manager at Hotel Jerome. “We wanted to celebrate powerful women of that period, of prohibition, so we decided this was who she should be. She should be ‘Bad Harriet.’” The hotel hopes the bar will further influence the venue’s playful, mischievous personality. It serves as the perfect complement to Jerome’s existing culinary and cocktail outposts – the legendary J-Bar, the après-chic Living Room and Prospect, its high-end restaurant.
Back inside, Hotel Jerome enlisted Aspen-based architecture firm Rowland + Broughton, landscape architects Design Workshop and Todd-Avery Lenahan’s TAL Studio – the creative team behind the hotel’s award-winning 2012 redesign – to help create a charismatic new outdoor space and two and three bedroom guest residences. Each 2,000 square-foot suite sits on a private floor and features space for entertaining as well as a fireplace, queen sleeper sofa and well-appointed kitchen. Both suites have balcony views facing Aspen Mountain and start at $3,250 per night up to $12,500. Additionally, a new sun-drenched venue, the Dunaway Room (named for the late Aspen Times owner Bil Dunaway) sits on the ground level beneath the new suites and opens up into the courtyard, which features a new space for private outdoor events, a renovated outdoor pool terrace and two hot tubs. Pool guests will have access to a heated robe and towel cabinet, as well as to a “pool-tender” – an attendant providing guests with food and beverage service, as well as other amenities.
“Hotel Jerome has been an Aspen landmark for over 125 years,” says Dan Friedkin, chairman at Auberge Resorts Collection. “Following the renovations in 2012, these new enhancements further honor the spirit and heritage of the hotel and the historic Aspen Times building. We are excited to welcome guests this winter to enjoy the next chapter in the history of this iconic hotel with its enhanced public spaces, new guest suites and the opening of a spirited new bar.”
Since its debut, Hotel Jerome has served as the storied social hub of Aspen, from its days as a boarding house for miners, when horses trotted through the lobby, to when infantrymen from the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division frequented J-Bar while training on Aspen Mountain. Decades later, 1970’s literary and counterculture icon Hunter S. Thompson made the hotel his local political campaign headquarters. In 2012 it embarked on its biggest redesign to date with the help of Mr. Lenahan – interior designer behind Wynn Resorts – to modernize the property while paying homage to its past. The result is an aesthetic mix of eras, where antique portraits, various taxidermy and Navajo textiles sit adjacent to white leather couches, globe-shaped lighting and sleek, polished chrome tables. A mix of past and present defines Hotel Jerome, where tidbits of history lurk around every corner as well-heeled young guests sip cocktails in their finest après-ski looks.
“Hotel Jerome was one of the first hotels west of the Mississippi River to have indoor plumbing, hot and cold water and electricity,” says Mr. DiLucia. “Businessmen were coming out here to invest in railroads and silver mines. Jerome was cutting-edge and luxury. Jerome was where you voted and found out voting results, where you sent telegrams. It was a huge social hub and gathering space, and we’re thrilled that it still is.”
By Caroline Tell