Reimagining an Aspen Icon
The Hotel Jerome emerges from a top-to-bottom redesign with a bold new look that’s the talk of the town
News that Aspen’s Hotel Jerome would undergo a top-to-bottom design transformation sparked excitement—and some concern from Aspenites who feared the building’s original character would be lost. “The perception was that the hotel people saw in 2012 was the original,” says Las Vegas-based interior designer Todd-Avery Lenahan, who orchestrated the project in partnership with Aspen architecture firm Rowland + Broughton Architecture & Urban Design.
But the Victorian wallpaper borders and heavy draperies that adorned the Jerome last summer, just before the hotel closed its doors to undergo the four-month-long renovation, weren’t there back in 1889 when the hotel first welcomed guests. “That décor was a 1980s interpretation of a Victorian theme,” Lenahan says. “It was not true to the period or the place or the building. And yet that aesthetic had imprinted on everyone as what was original.”
The original Hotel Jerome was a masculine building; a men’s hotel in a silver-mining town. Its décor was simple and pared down. Lenahan’s goal was to honor that history by recreating the strength and muscularity of the original spaces, while also appealing to travelers with tastes that are far more discerning than they were in the 1880s. “This is a hotel, not a relic,” Lenahan says. “For the building to survive, it has to remain appealing to each successive generation of traveler.”
The reimagined Hotel Jerome, which reopened last December, appeals with interiors that feel at once rich and traditional, fresh and fashionable. “It’s relevant and timely,” Lenahan says, “but it’s still very clear that this is a historical building.”
The furnishings and fixtures interior designer Todd-Avery Lenahan chose for the Hotel Jerome are chic and luxurious, but are they appropriate for a design inspired by early-20th-century décor?
“Mr. Wheeler, who built the hotel, was very worldly,” Lenahan says. “He knew that people on the East Coast and in Paris weren’t living in the same way as people in Colorado. What people forget is that pieces like the Le Corbusier chair [seen in the hotel’s living room], which was designed in the 1920s, are from the same era as an upholstered Wild West fainting couch.”
The Streamline Moderne-style light fixtures that adorn guest rooms are another surprising but true-to-the-period choice. “Many people expected to see retrofitted gas fixtures,” Lenahan says. “But when this hotel first opened, having retrofitted fixtures wasn’t nearly as prestigious as having new ‘electroliers.’ The fixtures I chose are more than 100 years old in design, and true to the hotel in its heyday.”