If you are strolling down East Main Street in Aspen, Colorado it will be hard to miss the governing presence of Hotel Jerome. Constructed in 1889 from local brick and sandstone, fringed with elaborate wall coverings and handmade Colorado tiles, it was designed to emulate the finest European hotels from that era.
At the time it was the first building west of the Mississippi to be fully lit by electricity, drawing a crowd of wealthy New York City socialites, Chicago beef barons and European dames and aristocrats. Over 130 years on and this hotel still upholds the same majestic air of grandeur with a wealth of historical flair preserved within its interior design.
Over the years Hotel Jerome has passed through many hands but has always remained open even though the city’s more challenging years. It has always been well patronized by the local community as the place where all the great stories were born and re-told.
Hotel Jerome has seen Aspen in the height of its silver boom, then later the silver crash, through the Depression, at times when wild cowboys would stroll through its doors and when 10th Mountain Division soldiers celebrating the completion of yet another honourable training session on the slopes. In recent decades this legendary inn has seen immense growth in the region as the opulent ski village as we know it as today. Its present owners, the Auberge Resort Group, to their credit, are passionate about retaining this colourful history within its overall presence and design.
In 2012 Auberge Resort CEO, Mark Harmon employed renowned interior designer Todd-Avery Lenahan from TAL Studio and Sarah Broughton, Colorado architect and historic preservation specialist, to assist with the most recent makeover.
This was a huge historical restoration intended to balance authenticity and preservation without any lack of modern state-of-the-art luxuries. Before any work that was carried out the interior design team spent over 200 hours conducting archival research, studying the buildings blueprints to ensure the structure remained as close to the original visions as possible.
They have been able to encapsulate lavished statement pieces from the past with the Indian rug-patterned encaustic tile work floor, original stair treads and balustrades on the main staircase, the grand carved-oak fireplace and the famous J Bar’s Chippendale chinoiserie bar- the very place Hunter S. Thompson used to use as his de facto office. The bar itself still captures the rough-and-tumble character it has been so famous for over the years, but with a subtle 21st-century makeover.
It is the restaurant which saw the most changes in the refurbish. Opening up space which was formally the atrium and creating a lobby bar, essentially creating a warm and inviting living room for its patrons. The restaurant now features contemporary interpretations of traditional furnishings, with the chestnut and cream coloured hardwood flooring, hand-stitched leather dining chairs and an innovative lighting design that allows the mood to transition from the crisp sunny ambience of the day to the moody soft hues of the evening.
This crown jewel is a must-visit for anyone looking to enrich their Aspen experience this season. Not only does it hold a rich history of its own, but it also parallels with the history of Aspen itself, with remarkable stories to be heard. As it has stood for over 130 years, it remains the meeting place for all good stories to be born and told for future generations to come as well.