Limelight Lodge, Aspen, Colorado
In glitzy Aspen, Limelight Lodge is a stand-out hotel on the grounds that it is central, affordable, and very much part of the local community. Its complicated family history spans the past half century. In 1958, Ski & Spur, a three-room lodge and musical venue where John Denver used to perform, combined with what was once Aspen Jail to form Hillside Lodge, the core of the Paas property empire. As the family grew, so too did their sprawling premises on South Monarch, until, in 2006, they decided that enough was enough and tore the whole lot down. Two years later, the newly christened Limelight Lodge emerged from the ruins. The hotel is right across the street from Wagner Park, a top spot for epic snowball fights, and a five-minute walk from the Silver Queen gondola base station, the access point for high-quality skiing on Ajax Mountain. The bus station for the shuttles to Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands is even closer.
Limelight Lodge has 126 rooms in 13 categories, ranging from standard to a two-bedroom penthouse suite. The style is contemporary minimalist – none of those surplus cushions that have to be thrown on the floor. Mountain colours dominate, with sturdy dark-wood furniture and russet bedspreads on white sheets. The beds themselves are kingsize in spades or, in the case of twin rooms, spacious queens. All rooms have HD flat-screen TV, iPod docking stations, and free Wi-fi access. Most have kitchenettes, while top-of-the-range includes full kitchens, bathrooms with walk-in showers and separate baths, gas fireplaces and terraces.
The food and drink
The Limelight breakfast is laid out in The Living Room, a large flexible space that takes up most of the ground floor. As the name suggests, it includes the reception desk, armchairs around the fire and the bar. In America, continental breakfast conjures up an image of lurid Danish or doughnuts and weak coffee. Not so at the Limelight, where an extensive spread, available from 7am to 10am, includes eggs, ham, cheese, and fruit plus a variety of cereals, yoghurts, and breads. Take what you want and grab a table, but don't be surprised if you're joined by a local eager to discuss the day's agenda. This is even more likely during the après hours between 4pm and 6pm, when complimentary hot drinks, coffee cake, mulled wine and canapés put skiers back on track after a hard day on the hill. As Aspen's smart malls, restaurants and clubs, including the iconic Caribou, are within a few minute's stroll, there's no shortage of places to go on to.
There is an open-air heated pool with two hot tubs in the courtyard, open from 8am to 10pm. Guests are entitled to a 20 per cent discount at the Aspen Club & Spa.
The Limelight was the first hotel in Aspen to have wheelchair-accessible guestrooms: now available in five categories, with roll-in showers and conveniently placed rails. Children and pets welcome. Dogs and cats can stay for £15.50 per night, including bowl and placemat.
Ski Independence (0131-243 8097; ski-i.com) offers seven nights at Limelight Lodge from £1,189 per person, based on two people sharing, including return flights from London Heathrow to Denver, B&B and mini-bus transfers.
Limelight Lodge, 330 South Monarch Street, Aspen, CO81611 (001 970 925 3025; limelightlodge.com).