Courtesy of Matt Power Photography

The Best Places to Eat, Stay and Explore in Aspen This Winter

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Visiting Aspen is always a good idea, no matter the season, but this historic silver mining town really comes alive in winter. With four ski resorts to choose from, world-class arts and culture institutions, and an incredible dining scene, Aspen is an ideal destination for a winter getaway, whether you’re considering a quick weekend trip or a longer retreat.

 

Here’s a snapshot of what’s new in Aspen this winter, from Michelin-starred dining to chic hotels and enriching exhibits.

 

Where to Stay

 

There are so many great places to stay in Aspen that it can be difficult to choose just one. But, this winter, a few lodgings stand out.

 

One is MOLLIE Aspen, a brand new boutique hotel that opened in December near Paepcke Park just west of downtown. With 68 rooms, a rooftop pool and terrace, and several dining options, MOLLIE Aspen makes an ideal home base for your next ski getaway. Even if you don’t end up booking a room here, consider stopping by for apres-ski. The hotel has a cozy lobby bar and restaurant, with drinks curated by Gin & Luck, the team behind Death & Co.

 

Courtesy of MOLLIE Aspen

 

Another great option is The Gant, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year—and, in Aspen, that kind of staying power is rare. When it opened in 1973, The Gant became Aspen’s first condominium resort to provide upscale, hotel-style amenities and services. Today, it remains a fixture in the community. In honor of its 50th, The Gant is offering a special anniversary package that includes a variety of perks, from a welcome gift to credits for restaurants and activities. The hotel has also rolled out a special anniversary cocktail menu, with nostalgic throwback drinks from the 1970s.

 

Courtesy of The Gant

 

“This anniversary marks a tremendous milestone of being part of the fabric of the Aspen community for half a century, and relationships are the heart and soul of what we do here—an energy that has shaped The Gant into such a special place for so many,” says Donnie Lee, The Gant’s general manager.

 

If you’re looking for a calm retreat surrounded by nature and brimming with art, check into Aspen Meadows, which recently renovated its 98 guest suites, restaurant, bar and lobby. The refresh pays homage to Aspen Meadows roots: It’s located on the grounds of the Aspen Institute, a sprawling, 40-acre plot meticulously designed by Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer from 1953 to 1973. Aspen Meadows also has a new restaurant—but more on that later.

 

A newly renovated guest living room at Aspen Meadows; courtesy of Jason Dewey

Where to Eat in Aspen

 

Each winter, Aspen welcomes a slew of new and returning restaurants—and this year is no different.

 

Craving sushi? Make a reservation at Madame Ushi Aspen, which has reopened for the winter season with an elevated menu. The Japanese eatery, which first launched in December 2022, seamlessly combines classic cooking techniques with modern flair. On the menu, you’ll find an array of new dishes, like the Shabu-Shabu, a shareable hot pot served with five top meat cuts—including ultra-premium A5 Japanese beef and seasonal vegetables. For sushi, you can’t go wrong with the House Roll, which incorporates four types of fish and gochujang flakes, or the Spice Salmon Roll, featuring uramaki spicy aioli, avocado and asparagus.

 

Courtesy of Madame Ushi Aspen

 

“Madame Ushi transports guests to a warm oasis after a long day at Aspen Mountain and provides a getaway for locals, who don’t need to leave Colorado to get a taste of Japan,” says chef Jake Eaton. “We wanted to reflect the beauty and luxury of the town through our culinary experience.”

 

Whether you book a room at Aspen Meadows or not, be sure to make time to visit its new restaurant, West End Social, during your trip to Aspen. Offering 270-degree views of Aspen’s mountains, the newly redesigned and re-concepted eatery is a true feast for the senses. The menu features Colorado-inspired fare like wagyu tartare with gochujang, kumquat and sesame; house-made ricotta with wild mushrooms and roots; and pumpkin tortellini with chestnut, delicata squash, sage and almond.

 

West End Social lounge; courtesy of Jason Dewey

 

“Our brunch, après and dinner menus have been designed to be not just interesting, but also interactive,” says Rachel Saxton, West End Social’s chef de cuisine. “Each dish is approachable and shines a light on our local farmers and Colorado products.”

 

Another can’t-miss restaurant this season is Parc Aspen, which first opened in 2022. Nestled into a cozy subterranean space on Hyman Avenue, this upscale spot is the brainchild of owners Maryanne and Harley Sefton, who wanted to make sure Aspen had more locally owned and operated restaurants in town. Indulge with hearty yet refined mains, like cinnamon-smoked elk loin, stuffed coq au vin and braised short ribs, or go for something a bit lighter like the “Beets Me” salad or the organic salmon. Whichever direction you choose to go in, be sure to order the Parc Aspen Bread Board for the table, which features absolutely exquisite homemade breads.

 

The Beets Me salad; courtesy of Parc Aspen

 

Warm up with a steaming bowl of ramen and some soup dumplings at Jimoto Aspen, which opened downtown this winter. Or, grab a bite at The Boat Tow, the new all-day eatery serving up sandwiches, soups, salads, snacks, shareables and stick-to-your-ribs plates, like lamb bolognese and winter squash enchiladas.

 

You’ll also want to check out the Michelin Guide’s top picks for Aspen restaurants, including Bosq Aspen, which received a coveted Michelin star when the guide came to Colorado for the first time in the summer of 2023. The guide also recommended several other Aspen eateries: Element 47 at The Little Nell, Mawa’s Kitchen and Prospect at Hotel Jerome. (And if you enjoy Mawa’s Kitchen, be sure to check out The Crepe Shack, a breakfast and lunch café also by Mawa McQueen.)

 

If you visit later in the season, you’ll have the opportunity to sip Stranahan’s spirits and munch on alpine-inspired bites at the Denver distillery’s new Whiskey Lodge tasting room. The new lodge is a homecoming for Stranahan’s, which has roots in nearby Woody Creek.

 

What to Do in Aspen

 

The big news in Aspen this year is the opening of Hero’s, a new 153-acre swath of terrain at Aspen Mountain. Served by a new high-speed, four-person chairlift, Hero’s is Ajax’s first major expansion in more than two years and it grows the resort’s footprint by 20 percent. With steep glades, 19 chutes and four cut trails, Hero’s mostly caters to experts, but intermediate skiers will also find plenty of terrain to explore.

 

Courtesy of Jordan Curet

 

After exploring the new terrain, ease your aching muscles with a massage or a treatment at the new Spa at The Little Nell, which debuted in December. Designed by Luis Bustamante Interior Design, the spa has three gorgeous treatment suites and a robust menu of skincare solutions, integrated rituals and bodywork to help you feel your best.

 

Courtesy of Shawn O’Connor

 

This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the Aspen Music Festival and School. And while the main festival takes place in the summer, you can get a preview by attending various concerts held throughout the winter. The Winter Music Recital Series features a range of talented musicians, from pianist Yefim Bronfman to the Isidore String Quartet. The festival is also hosting a series of concerts in collaboration with the Wheeler Opera House in February and March.

 

For even more cultural immersion, visit the Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies (also on the grounds of the Aspen Institute, just like Aspen Meadows Resort). The center has a new exhibit this winter, called “Concept of a Visualist: Herbert Bayer’s World Geo-Graphic Atlas,” which is free and open to the public.

 

 

Also be sure to visit the Aspen Art Museum (also free) to see “John Chamberlain: THE TIGHTER THEY ARE WOUND, THE HARDER THEY UNRAVEL,” a new exhibit curated by artist Urs Fischer and developed in collaboration with the Dia Art Foundation that explores the work of the iconic American sculptor and filmmaker.

 

 

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