There's a dog in the lobby of Aspen's coolest five-star hotel, a handsome Dobermann with a diamond-studded collar. Dogs are welcome with their well-heeled owners, and room service is also an option for them. The Little Nell - next to shops and the Silver Queen Gondola that provides access to the slopes - is all about extravagance, convenience and service, including a concierge who carry skis and walk dogs. The premium rooms have a boutique feel; warmly furnished in ritzy ski-lodge style with leather chairs, a gas-flame fire and even an oxygen canister for altitude sickness. The Element 47 restaurant is top of its game. This is "the" place to be.
Rooms from $US940 ($1024) a night during January (peak ski season).
There are other five-star properties around, but none quite match the feeling of opulence of the St. Regis, which opened in 1992 in the hands of a Saudi Arabian sheikh. The hotel is famed for its butler service and there are marble bathrooms, chandeliers, fireplaces and grand public areas, including the richly furnished mountain lounge. If it all sounds a bit showy, you haven't seen anything until the waiter spectacularly sabers a bottle of champagne. The hotel is two blocks from the Silver Queen Gondola, not quite as convenient for skiers as the Little Nell.
Yes, the St. Regis takes dogs, too.
Rooms from $US699 ($761) a night during January.
The late writer Hunter S. Thompson drank at the hotel's famous J-Bar, which feels like an up-market Wild West saloon. A waitress points to where Thompson would sit, second stool from the end. Opened in 1889, Hotel Jerome has just spent a fortune on renovations. The piece de resistance is the living room. There's an open fire, club chairs and a vintage American flag to accentuate the historic western ambience.
All it needs now is for General George Custer to be sitting next to you.
The 93 rooms are luxurious, furnished with touches such as cashmere curtains. Rooms from $US725 ($790) during January.
Aspen ski resort comprises four areas (Aspen, Snowmass, Highlands and Buttermilk) interconnected by free buses. If you are not in downtown Aspen, the next best place to stay is Snowmass, and the ski-in/ski-out Westin is central to all the action - surrounded by slopes, shops and restaurants. With 254 rooms, it's such a big hotel that you need to be prepared to queue for breakfast. Rooms and facilities are typical of any modern high-end hotel: very comfortable but without the vibe or character of others on this page. The price and position, however, make it a popular choice. Rooms from $US399 ($434) a night during January.
This is Mad Men in the snow. Retro is all the go at the renovated three-star hotel with 1960s-type furniture and bright colours. There's a young crowd trying local beers in the bar. A projector showing old ski films, a swimming pool, pinball and vintage ski photos add to the atmosphere. I like a chair made from skis, even though it's a bit hard- what a great use for old Atomics and Blizzards. There are also cosy sitting areas with funky, soft furniture and lamps where Don Draper may relax with a Dirty Martini. And you've gotta love the faux library with wallpaper that looks like shelving filled with books.
Rooms from $US199 ($216) a night during January.
Alligator meatballs, grits, seafood gumbo and southern fried chicken make you feel like you're in Louisiana, but open your eyes and there's snow all around the Eight K restaurant. This is one of the best and most unique places at which to eat in Aspen/Snowmass, found at an altitude of 2400 metres in the Viceroy. The accommodation "residences" range from studio size to four bedrooms, with Rocky Mountain interiors, designer kitchens, fireplaces and lots of stone and timber. The feeling is homely. There are services such as a concierge, a pool, restaurants, bar and housekeeping. Celebs stay because of the privacy.
Studios from $US625 ($681) a night during January.
The writer was a guest of Little Nell, Westin and St Regis.