Mountain views, $1,000 rooms … and bunk beds: A review of the W Aspen
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To The Point
Thed W Aspen is a super-cool hangout for those looking for a trendy high-end vacation with a side of skiing. Pros: Good food at reasonable prices (for Aspen), funky new rooms with bunk beds and a great pool/hot dub deck. Cons: Steep resort fee with minimal tangible perks, some puzzling design choices and really high cash prices, especially during the ski season.
Editor’s note: During the COVID-19 crisis, our team has temporarily ceased taking review trips and we are not publishing new flight or hotel reviews. While bringing our readers unbiased, detailed reviews of travel experiences is one of our core missions, now is not the time. We all love to travel and know you do too. So, to help keep you entertained — and maybe inspire you — we are republishing a selection of our most popular reviews from 2019 and 2020, including the one below. Hopefully, this will help you once we’re all ready to start booking trips again.
What happens when you combine the extremely high-end destination of Aspen, Colorado, with a swanky W Hotel? Among other things, you get easy access to Aspen skiing, a slick rooftop bar and heated pool with mountain views, a DJ nest in the lobby and $1,000-plus-per-night rooms that come with up to four bunk beds — each with individual TVs. A swanky hotel where eight people can stay in one 425-square-foot bunk-bed room? Confused? I was, too.
The 88-room W Aspen was nice, it was vibrant, it was fun, it was … very, very interesting. Much like the history of Aspen itself, the vibe and decor of the hotel was varied and colorful.
Like most things in Aspen, lodging is expensive. If you want to go during a peak time of the year, such as ski season, expect to pay sky-high rates for many things. In the low season (think April through May and October to early November), the W Aspen has rooms that start around $250 – $350 per night. However, during the peak ski season, rooms can start closer to $1,000 per night and go up from there.
If you pay for your stay with Marriott points, off-peak rates are 50,000 Marriott points, standard rates are 60,000 points per night, and peak season (aka ski season weekends and holidays) cost 70,000 points per night. This is actually a decrease to Category 7 from the Category 8 the property first opened as in fall 2019.
Standard rooms can include one king bed, two stacked queen beds or queen bunk beds, depending on the date.
Related: Best Marriott credit cards
My late-September 2019 stay date was still pricing higher with cash than you’d probably guess in the off-season, so we used 85,000 Marriott points for the night so I could check out the virtually brand-new hotel. Sadly, using Marriott points does not exempt you from the $55.65-per-night resort fee. It also does not exempt you from the $52-per-night valet parking fee if you bring along a car. (Mountain views and a spot by the outdoor fire are were free.)
Like other Marriott properties in the area, the W Aspen has a 60-day cancellation window in the winter, so be sure of your plans before making a booking.
Related: What comes next for the W brand
The W Aspen is set at the base of Aspen Mountain in what used to be known as the Sky Hotel before that property closed for extensive renovations in 2017. My visit to the W Aspen was in the fall, so it was hard to imagine the ski-in and ski-out nature of it all without snow on the ground, but that’s how the hotel is billed. If you need some help envisioning things with a blanket of snow, here’s a photo from Marriott’s site to help your imagination.
Aspen is a compact town, so it was easy to walk from the W to various shops, bars and restaurants in and around town. Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) was an easy 5-mile drive from the hotel. Now, just like at the nearby St. Regis Aspen, there is reportedly a complimentary airport shuttle available.
The lobby is bright, fun and funky with nods to various eras in Aspen history.
There’s ample seating, and I immediately got a good feel from the property just by walking in the front door.
The check-in process itself was swift: There was no line, and I got the impression there weren’t a whole bunch of guests at the property quite yet, as it was only three weeks old on the date of my stay.
The staff at the front was cheery and even escorted me to my room, which turned out to be a suite, presumably thanks to Marriott Platinum status and a low occupancy rate. However, I had booked a room with bunk beds because, well, how could you not want to see that firsthand?
I happily accepted the suite, as long as I could still peek at the bunk-bed rooms, and the staff was more than accommodating, since they weren’t all occupied. On the way up to my room (No. 241), I grabbed infused water, which was usually available during my stay right next to the check-in desk. When you visit Aspen or any high-altitude location, there’s no such thing as too much water, since that helps battle altitude sickness.
Related: Review of the Westin Snowmass
Once I got beyond the bright lobby area, the hallways were even cooler. They had a mining vibe that I liked more than the bright colors found elsewhere in the resort. I wished that the swinging ’70s vibe had been confined to the party areas and that the mining vibe dominated the rooms. That said, some rooms were more ’70s style than others.
Based on the rooms listed on the hotel’s website, I think my assigned room turned out to be a Wow Suite, which was all one connected space with a defined sitting area comprising a couch, small table and a couple of chairs.
There was a well-stocked minibar lurking in those shiny drawers, though I didn’t even see a price list in sight — and you know what they say when you have to ask what something costs …
Just behind the front door was a bookshelf and a couple of full-length mirrors so you could be sure that your ski wear is on point. This is Aspen, after all.
Unlike the living area of the room, the bedroom had a carpeted section, which held the king bed. I prefer carpeting to a cold floor when crawling in and out of bed (or for when my kid falls out of bed). The itself bed was pretty much perfect, with clean, comfortable linens and power outlets on each side.
Interestingly, it was flanked by TVs both to the right and to the front, across the room.
I’m far from the world’s most tech-savvy individual, but I could not figure out how to get the TVs on the same channel or turn one off without turning off the other. It’s very possible this was user error, but once they somehow got on separate channels, I was done for.
Speaking of user error: I also failed at ever figuring out how to turn off all the lights in the room. Before you judge my failure too harshly, here’s what I was working with:
There were lots of lighting options on there, but none of them were labeled. I tried every combo I could come up with, and the best I could do was reduce the light to that emanating from the bathroom around the corner from the bed. That cutout under the mirror shown below was still lighted, so I covered it up as best I could with the inflatable horse that was left as a welcome amenity.
Yes, I said an inflatable horse.
Note that some light switches were labeled better than that one shown above, but “off” never got everything off in my attempts.
Other than my lighting fail, the room itself was great for sleeping. There was a door that separated the rest of the hallway from my room and the one next to it, so it was extremely quiet at night.
Assuming you’re OK with a lack of privacy from the rest of the room, the bathroom was also pretty divine. There was a lovely soaking tub out in the open in the bathroom (which, again, was open and connected to the rest of the room).
There was a bright double vanity stocked with fluffy towels and Bliss products.
The shower was relatively easy to work, and I had no complaints about water temperature or pressure. Bucking the current trend, this hotel offers individual-sized bath products slightly larger than most, so there will be plenty left to take home with you in most cases.
The fluffy, black robes found hanging in the bathroom’s closet were insanely cozy — probably too cozy for September but likely perfect for those ski months.
As long as you are cool with the Brady Bunch era of orange tones and funky decor, my suite was great sans lighting failure. However, seeing the rooms with bunk beds was arguably even more fun.
First, I checked out a room that had two queen bunk beds. This room is bookable for a standard award price, when available. This room type had a sitting couch, one wall-mounted TV and power outlets by each of the two bunk beds. Almost certainly, this is a creative way to create more sleeping space in a limited footprint, but it’s still fun.
But it’s the room with four bunk beds that blew my mind. Each bunk bed had its own personal mounted TV.
These rooms are rated for up to eight people, and there is a couch, but outside of sleeping hours, this would be a tight fit for eight folks, as there’s no real living space beyond that one small couch. While my peek inside was brief, it didn’t look as if the bathroom space were truly sufficient for eight people.
I asked about who they thought would rent these rooms, and was told they anticipated friend trips, bachelor parties, girls’ weekends, etc. Unless it was like a cousins’ sleepover for my kids, I would not put eight people in this room. However, it would probably be a whole lot of fun for a weekend friend getaway with, say, four total people you really liked.
Sleeping in these bunk beds looked downright cozy, though I am insanely curious to learn how these rooms work out in practice. While they’d be great for a family with older kids, I’m not certain that many families will opt for this style of lodging at the going rate of $1,000 to $2,600 per night on the nights I checked. If you are working with that sort of budget, you could potentially find a condo or home rental and spread out a bit more.
Food and beverage
The W Aspen is home to three food outlets: Wet Deck (the service near the pool on the roof deck), Living Room (main restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and 39 Degrees (bar open Tuesday to Saturday nights).
We tried out breakfast and dinner in the Living Room, which is truly a cozy spot with plates and cups that looked like a mix-and-match arrangement from your cool friend’s apartment.
The Marriott Platinum benefit option covered up to $52 of breakfast per person per day, which was more than enough.
I went for coffee, orange juice and the Eden Bowl loaded with veggies, all of which were great. They even had coconut milk for the coffee, which is still pretty rare in most places besides Starbucks.
The service at the restaurant was friendly and attentive, though there were very few tables full on this Monday morning in late September.
I recommend grabbing a space by the large windows, as the view outside was simply outstanding.
Though the Eden Bowl was a lovely, healthy option, we also grabbed some cider donuts for the road. I can fully vouch for them as well. Even with the coffee, OJ, veggie bowl, donuts and tip, the bill rang in under the $52 breakfast credit.
Dinner was, not surprisingly, pricier than breakfast, though not as bad as I thought it would be at a new hotel in Aspen. Dinner for four cost us around $100. We didn’t all order entrees, and no one had more than a Coke to drink, but even if you ordered a bit more, it’s probably reasonable for a dinner out in Aspen.
Related: How to enjoy Aspen on a budget
We tried the fried rice ($11), Vapor Burger ($26) and J Bowl ($32). A J Bowl is basically a poke bowl by another name. Both of the entrees were more than enough food for one person, unless that one person were very, very hungry. Even the side of fried rice turned out to be plenty for one person’s main course. The burger in particular was massive with two patties, bacon, cheese, tots and more. Get an extra bun and easily share this one.
Just like at breakfast, dinner service was attentive and kind. Even though my family was almost certainly not the target demographic for this hotel, we didn’t feel out of place at all eating in the Living Room.
We did not have a chance for a drink or snack on the roof deck on this trip, but here’s the menu for Wet:
Even in the off-season, this place was relatively busy in the evening (photo below taken in the morning). I am certain this will be an absolute hot spot during the peak aprés ski season.
The hotel had very well thought-out seating and heat reflectors that will get good use during long winters.
The bar 39 Degrees is closed on Mondays, so I couldn’t peek inside. However, the name is a holdover from when this property was known as the Sky Hotel.
Adjacent to the Living Room restaurant is a hangout area with shuffleboard and hanging chairs. Again, even in the off-season, this space saw some use, so I can imagine it gets busier during peak times.
There’s a smallish gym on the lowest level just in case you didn’t get enough exercise hiking, biking or skiing on the adjacent Aspen Mountain.
The ski shop wasn’t in place yet when I visited, but the storage room for all your ski and snowboard gear was up and running. As of the 2019 – 2020 ski season the ski shop is reportedly operationational.
But I’ve saved the best for last. The hotel’s heated rooftop pool and hot tub were fabulous.
The water was warm, the views were great, and I have no doubt the people-watching will be hot. Given experiences at other ski properties, I highly doubt the pool area will be large enough to keep up with the post-skiing demand, but those who can grab a spot will be in for a treat.
I had a lot of fun during my one night at the W Aspen. The blend of decor and inspiration from the ’70s, Native Americans, the mining era and more is a bit weird, but probably pretty well-suited to the W demographic, presumably millennials with enough money or points to come to Aspen but not so much money that they won’t stay in bunk beds.
It’s Aspen, where they sell fur and Louis Vuitton bags by the dozen just around the corner, so I doubt most will scoff at a $50 resort fee, but I’m unclear as to whether it provided any benefit. I saw charges for Wi-Fi at the login screen (for those without Marriott Bonvoy memberships), there was no airport shuttle during my stay (though that has since changed), and outside of some bottled water in the room, I didn’t notice any tangible perks from that fee either during my stay or listed on the hotel’s website. Perhaps ski-related amenities in the winter add value, but in the off-season, I’m stumped by what it covers.
That aside, if you want a fun, new and upbeat place to cash in your Marriott points for staying near Aspen Mountain, try out the W Aspen. If you want more traditional luxury and space to spread out without climbing a bunk ladder, head a few blocks over to The St. Regis Aspen. (I’ve even see nights when The St. Regis is fewer points than the W.) Should you wish to be slopeside on a mountain that is more family-friendly, conserve your points and stay at the Westin Snowmass a few miles down the road.
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