Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison BerkleyThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

At The Little Nell, everybody knows your name. Like, literally.”Hello Ms. Berkley,” they say as you walk by. “Can we do anything for you, Ms. Berkley? Would you like me to take that up to your room, Ms. Berkley?”In my sick, twisted mind I kept having fantasies about requesting outrageous things from the concierge. “Let’s call down to the front desk and see if they’ll do something really crazy for us if we ask them,” I said to Ryan as we lounged about on the giant king bed in our nice white, fluffy robes. “It would be kind of like crank calling, but more fun.””How old are you?” he replied, giving me that look like he didn’t recognize me, like I’d magically transformed into a reptile or a hermit crab. “Seriously. I’ve never seen anyone who can amuse themselves so easily.” He just ignored me and went back to scraping the last spoonfuls of the peanut butter cup dessert we’d ordered with room service.They’d actually called Ryan “Mr. Berkley” when he walked into the hotel lobby with our 100-pound German Shepherd George in tow because they sort of knew who he was, but not really. I guess the whole five-star rating thing is super hard to get, and a lot of it has to do with service, so they really do back flips in order to earn every single one of them. The fact that they didn’t know the dog’s name was kind of a relief. It does make you feel good, though, like you’re a celebrity or somebody important. The fact that they even let us into the building, never mind invite us to spend the night, is a true testimony to how special The Little Nell really is. And I’m not just saying that. I really mean it.The first time I stayed at the hotel was with my parents back in ’05 during the offseason when we were able to get a really great rate. Like I told the General Manager John Speers when we met for the first time last June during Food & Wine, staying at TLN ruined my life. The real world simply sucked after that. How was I supposed to adjust to living in a place where the toilet paper wasn’t folded into a perfect triangle just so every time I went to use the bathroom?I quickly discovered the doors to The Little Nell are always open. I spent many summer days by the pool with my dog Sebastian (aka “Psycho Paws, rest his soul), who was treated like a gentleman instead of the criminal he really was. They’d bring him a chrome dog bowl and let him lounge around the pool with me while I was sprayed with Evian and given free popsicles on cinnamon sticks as I sipped Peligrino and ate tuna tar-tar. Even at the restaurant, everyone knows your name, at least once they get their hands on your credit card.Growing up in New England, the five star hotels of my youth were stuffy places with lots of paisley and wall-to-wall carpet and big crystal chandeliers and mahogany furniture where you weren’t allowed in the lobby without the proper attire. I remember getting kicked out of the Copley Hotel in Boston because the guys I was with were in T-shirts. One time we stayed at a big fancy hotel in Miami where they’d stop me at the elevator every single time I walked into the lobby and call up to my parents to verify I was actually a guest. So I was going through a danger slut phase and was dressed like a prostitute, but whatever. I was 15! I was hormonal!Needless to say I feel right at home at The Little Nell and am starting to believe all my hippie friends who say you can manifest your dreams by “putting it out there into the universe.” So here I am with like three-figures in the bank and somehow I’m living the life of a Princess. Namaste!So when my friends at TNL invited me to spend the night so I could see the new room renovations I cleared my very busy and important schedule to accommodate them. While I could hardly complain about the way it was before, the new rooms screamed modern elegance. Everything is very streamlined and seamless and sophisticated, with a computer system that allows you to control everything from the room temperature to the lighting through the flat-screen TV and a steam shower and a bathtub that’s big enough to swim in. From what we could tell, George was very happy with his dog bed – we didn’t even have to tell him where it was. When Ryan arrived after work, we settled into the living room, where we ran into several of our friends, people of all ages and all walks of life. At one point I thought the dogs might even outnumber the people. The place was very lively and homey and fun, and we ended up drinking and socializing in the bar until after 10.”Let’s go up to the room,” I urged Ryan before he ordered his last drink. “We can hang out down here anytime we want.” And that’s exactly the point. When I went to check out, the guy behind the desk greeted me before I had a chance to give him my card.”I hope you enjoyed your stay, Ms. Berkley,” he said with some kind of cute accent I couldn’t quite identify.I couldn’t hold it in anymore. “How do you know my name? Do you guys have like a photo of me back there or something?””No, I know who you are,” he said with a crooked smile. “You’re in the newspaper.”And it was the perfect end to a perfect day in the life of a Princess.

The Princess just got a lot blonder thanks to the Queen B. Love you, Rita! Send your holiday wishes to

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