By Craig Davis, CraigslegzTravels.com
ASPEN, COLO. — In a high-end ski town where pricy is the norm, the Tyrolean Lodge is the exception in a number of pleasing ways.
The three-story inn with 16 rooms and a quirky personality is easily the most reasonable and recognizable accommodation in town.
Prices have gone up a bit since our first visit in 2006, but remain the best value in Aspen. During the height of ski season, prices range from $200 to $255 a night. It’s cheaper if you go before Christmas. For $260, three skiers you can get a mid-floor room with two queen beds, one twin and a kitchenette.
Can’t beat the location at Main and First streets, within a couple of blocks of the free bus into town and to the area’s four ski resorts.
Lending distinction to the lodge is the giant eagle sculpture on the roof constructed of chrome car bumpers. The eagle is the handiwork of the late Lou Wille, who opened the lodge in 1970.
From old black-and-white photos around the lodge, including one showing Wille and his wife, Lynne, standing next to another large sculpture of a pig, the original proprietor is an intriguing character. He came from New York and founded an art school in Aspen, where he and his wife taught. They named the lodge after the Tyrol region of Austria in the Alps, where some of the earliest ski resorts were located.
The Tyrolean Lodge remains in the Wille family. Eldest son Raoul ran it until he died while climbing Mount Baruntse in Nepal near Mount Everest in 1998. He was such a popular local figure that a prominent mountain peak near Aspen has been dubbed Mount Raoul. Youngest son Pierre runs the lodge now.
Memorabilia and photos displayed around the lodge make it appear as a functioning skiing museum. But the rooms have been updated, are well maintained and offer modern amenities including free wifi.
Aspen is a bit out of the way, but once you get there it is one of the most accommodating places to ski. Traffic and parking can be horrendous, but there is no reason to get in the car with the free bus service providing easy access day and night to the restaurants and bars in town as well as to the ski resorts.
You don’t even have to haul skis and poles back to the lodge after skiing when you rent from Four Mountains Sports. They’ll deliver your gear to the mountain of your choice, and when you leave the slopes you can check it all for free overnight.
Where to eat in Aspen
No better place to start the day than at the low-key Main Street Bakery Café (201 E. Main St.), just a couple of blocks from the Tyrolean Lodge. They are known for their Benedicts – eggs or Alaskan. But I’m partial to the Buried Treasure, aka, blueberry pancakes.
For barbecue, The Hickory House, 730 W. Main St., serves baby back ribs that have won numerous national competitions, in a comfortable, down-home atmosphere. For $17.49 you can get a combo of ribs with brisket, pulled pork, chicken, catfish or smokehouse sausage. We got a bonus of sitting table away from a large group celebrating a silver medalist at the X Games.
The Woody Creek Tavern, Hunter S. Thompson’s renowned hangout a few miles outside Aspen, is a must stop for lunch or dinner, or for one of the highly acclaimed fresh-squeezed lime juice margaritas. Perusing the photos, artifacts and pithy sayings that cover the walls help pass the time during the inevitable wait for a table. It’s worth the wait as the food is excellent, notably the Mexican fare.