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No matter the season, Denver is hot with appeal for travelers. (The fact that it averages 300 sunny days per year doesn’t hurt, either.) According to Visit Denver, 2017 marked its 12th consecutive year of tourism growth: A record 31.7 million visitors discovered the Mile High City’s playground of arts and culture, lush city parks, notable craft breweries and diverse dining.
For those looking to join in on the fun, consider making downtown Denver a home base for taking in all that the city offers. Not only is the area walkable and brimming with restaurants, bars and shops, it also parades historical charm and fantastic hotel options for every type of traveler.
From my own firsthand experience, the following three hotels (managed by Sage Hospitality) — all located within a couple blocks from each other — should be considered when booking accommodations in downtown Denver.
The Oxford HotelBest for: Old-fashioned romantics who prefer a quiet getaway
Situated in LoDo (Denver’s lower downtown neighborhood), The Oxford Hotel’s most illustrious claim to fame is its reign as the city’s first-ever hotel. (The property is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.) Designed by the late Frank E. Edbrooke — a prominent Denver architect whose portfolio also includes the Colorado State Capitol — the four-star, 80-room property originally opened in October 1891. Though it has since been modernized with creature comforts, including a major refresh completed in June 2018, The Oxford has preserved much of its Gilded Age splendor.
Hotel guests will be greeted by impeccable service upon arrival, from the smartly dressed doormen to the eager front desk staff who can spout off history lessons about The Oxford at a moment’s notice. I learned that the property operates the oldest working elevators west of the Mississippi River — though they were first called “vertical railways” because the term “elevator” hadn’t been coined yet. In addition, in the lobby, a sherbet-colored, red factor canary sweetly chirps melodies and flits around in an antique cage. As the hotel’s resident mascot, the canary alludes to Colorado’s coal mining history: In the 19th and 20th centuries, this type of bird was used to determine levels of carbon monoxide and other toxic gases down below.
As I walked the hotel’s hallways — constructed wide enough so that two women in petticoats could have walked side by side in conversation — to my Premium Classic guestroom, I noticed other thoughtful details, including desks with either complimentary blank postcards or a working vintage typewriter, all available for use. Completed notes and letters can then be mailed with help from the front desk staff.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by valerie chen 👋🏻 (@valerielily) on Aug 23, 2018 at 9:21pm PDT
A post shared by valerie chen 👋🏻 (@valerielily) on Aug 23, 2018 at 9:21pm PDT
My room, accessible via an old-fashioned, tasseled brass key, had copious charming details as well. Of note was the clawfoot soaking tub set in the black-and-white tiled bathroom (that also featured a walk-in shower with a rain showerhead); vistas of nearby downtown Denver; antique furniture sourced from France and England; and a chic, black-leather-and-brass placard that read “Making Magic” to hang on my doorknob for privacy. (Note: All guestrooms at The Oxford are individually decorated.)
The Maven HotelBest for: Creative types who gravitate toward modern design
The newest of the trio, The Maven Hotel first entered the downtown Denver scene in spring 2017. Its energy is undeniable, due in large part to the boutique property’s unbeatable location within the larger complex and bustling micro-district of Dairy Block.
Besides The Maven, an eclectic array of restaurants, bars and shops share one roof — including Huckleberry Roasters, a coffee shop; Denver Milk Market, a market-within-a-market with 16 food and drink stands created by renowned Colorado chef Frank Bonanno; Poka Lola Social Club, a chic cocktail bar; and much more.
Visitors hanging out at The Maven’s communal lobby probably checked out the recently opened Alley at the Dairy Block, where additional trendy establishments, murals and other art pieces line the transformed passageway from 18th to 19th street (between the Blake and Wazee streets). (Remind clients to grab a margarita or craft beer — complimentary for hotel guests — at the Airstream in the lobby from 4 to 7 p.m.)
With so much to do at the Dairy Block, clients will be thrilled to find a peaceful haven at the on-site 172-room Maven Hotel. Guestrooms are on a par with the property’s hip surroundings (which provide a stark contrast to those of The Oxford or The Crawford): Floor plans are loft-style; decor and furniture is contemporary; and dark, moody hues with pops of primary colors comprise the color palette. Floor-to-ceiling windows afford abundant natural light and views of either the city or — in the case of my Master King Room — the busy Alley at the Dairy Block below.
What’s more, a pour-over coffee maker, a round soaking tub (instead of a traditional clawfoot one) and trendy tiles in my room only further confirmed The Maven’s urban vibe.
The Crawford HotelBest for: Travelers who love a unique spin on the traditional hotel
Thanks to its unique positioning within the historic Denver Union Station, The Crawford Hotel just about sells itself. The railway station building first opened in 1881 and has endured everything from a 1984 fire to the growth of automobile and airline transportation in the late 20th century.
The present-day iteration of Union Station opened in 2014 as a working Amtrak station and the 112-room Crawford Hotel, which is positioned in a former office space above the station. Though the hotel’s check-in desk is concealed in one of the station’s alcoves (near the elevator bank), there’s no dedicated hotel lobby; instead, guests will share the station’s dynamic waiting room with all commuters and visitors to the eateries and shops within the building.
Though I appreciated the easy access to breakfast the next morning (bacon-and-egg tacos from Acme Delicatessen and coffee from Pigtrain Coffee Company, set within Union Station), I was apprehensive about the noise from all the hustle and bustle surrounding my guestroom. In my third-floor Premium Classic guestroom, however, nary a sound could be heard from downstairs.
In fact, my airy private hideaway even looked like a world away, with elegant Victorian decor and pops of tangerine orange and mustard yellow against an otherwise neutral color palette. A large, mostly marble bathroom featured a crystal chandelier, a double vanity, a clawfoot soaking tub and a big walk-in shower. All in all, the only giveaway that I was in a train station was a peek through my 16-foot windows at the view of the railway below. (Note: My room at The Crawford Hotel was the most spacious of the three properties where I stayed.)
The Crawford’s other guestrooms vary in design. Pullman Guest Rooms on the second floor are smaller, measuring 250 square feet, and were inspired by Pullman Sleeper Cars (hence the name). On the fourth floor, the hotel’s designers preserved the integrity of the building’s 1881 construction by taking advantage of special details including sloped ceilings, wooden beams, dormer windows and exposed brick. Attractive loft-style guestrooms were the result, each with unique layouts and details.