I have no idols. I admire work, dedication and competence.
Architect and Aspen resident Sarah Broughton gives a local’s perspective on where to eat, drink, party and unwind in her snow capped hometown.
Sarah Broughton is the co-founder of rowland + broughton, the architecture and urban design agency responsible for bringing Aspen’s Hotel Jerome back to its former glory. She’s lived in the Colorado town for ten years and is a huge fan of its buildings as well as its wildlife and nature. In her opinion, the unique thing about Aspen is that, despite being relatively small, it’s very cosmopolitan – offering a little something to everyone and welcoming visitors from all over the world, all year round. Indeed, on top of its international reputation as a ski resort it also boasts a wealth of top restaurants, bars, cafes, spas as well as unrivalled views of the great outdoors – enough to keep any visitor entertained. Drawing on her inside knowledge, we spoke to Sarah about where to go and what to see in Aspen.
Aspen is best known as a place of outstanding natural beauty, but it also has some unique architecture, too. How has the interior design scene developed over the years?
In terms of the look people prefer in their homes, natural light is very popular, because the quality of it here is really amazing. So it’s all about capturing that light, usually through window placement. We always use them when designing interiors for properties in Aspen. There are definitely more styles around today than there were 20 years ago, but natural materials such as wood, stone and wool still seem to be popular. In fact, that’s what we also went for when renovating the Hotel Jerome. With that project, we wanted to respect the property’s history while helping propel it into today and into the future.
Where’s the best place to eat?
I’d have to say Matsuhisa. The food there is just excellent. It’s a Japanese restaurant and the quality is exceptional. I love the salmon they serve, especially the way they cook it. It’s prepared in a very specific fashion that they call ‘new style’. Coffee-wise, I’d check out a cafe called Peach’s. Their food is fresh as well as organic, and their egg dishes are really, really delicious.
What do you like doing when it gets dark?
In the evenings I just love to go out and grab some dinner, which in Aspen is easy, because we have such fantastic restaurants. Apart from Matsuhisa, there’s an Italian place called Casa Tua that I like. It’s in a huge old chalet building in town, but they also have a branch in Miami, too. After dinner, I usually go to see live music at Belly Up. They bring in famous and unknown musicians alike, and I try and go there as often as I can.
Where do you go when you want to relax?
I’m outdoors kind of person. My hobbies include biking, a little cross-country skiing and downhill skiing; Aspen Mountain is the one I usually go to for that. I’m also absolutely mad about mountain biking on a trail called Sky Mountain. Road biking up to the Maroon Bells is fun, too.
Apparently Aspen has some of the best wellness clubs and spas?!
Yes it does, and there are so many to choose from. I particularly like the Aspen Meadows Resort, which is a really cool international-style building. Wilma’s River Resort is excellent too, and I also enjoy going to St Regis, where they have a spa called Remède. I like to treat myself by going there and getting a massage and hanging out by the pool. I also have a membership with the Aspen Club, where they have everything from cardio machines and weights to classes in yoga and pilates.
What are Aspen’s sports highlights?
Every year we also host the women’s FIS Alpine Ski Word Cup. Our agency actually sponsors it, and it’s always brilliant to have the international racing community in town.
„THE TRULY UNIQUE THING ABOUT ASPEN IS HOW IT MERGES NATURE AND CULTURE”
What’s the town’s best-kept secret?
The North Star Nature Preserve, east of Aspen. You can visit it at any time of year and it will always be amazing. During autumn the elk are in mating season and the leaves on the trees turn golden. In winter, the reserve’s wardens prepare a cross-country trail that people can use to explore the park on either snowshoes or by cross-country skiing. In the springtime the rivers rise and the entire area becomes wetlands, and in the summer you can use these to canoe in. It’s a really special place.
Where’s the best place to find a breathtaking view of Aspen?
I’d say that your best bet is to take a hike up Smuggler Mountain. At the top there’s a viewing platform that overlooks the town and the valley. Another option is to take the Ute Trail to a rocky outcrop where the views are just out of this world. The trail was named after the Ute Indians, who were the first inhabitants of Aspen. For views from indoors, the lobby at the Wheeler Opera House has astounding ones of Aspen Mountain. The sights from the conference room of our studio take some beating, too!
What do you miss the most when you’re away?
The truly unique thing about Aspen is how it merges nature and culture. I was just in Park City and it’s not the same. I’ve visited so many great ski resorts in Europe and every time I’m amazed at what we have here. That’s what Aspen is: a perfect unison of majestic mountains and world-class culture.