Urban chalet. That’s the aesthetic intent of the 216-room Thompson Denver, opened in February in Denver’s LoDo (lower-downtown) neighborhood. Emblematic of the Thompson brand, now under Hyatt’s umbrella, the Denver boutique hotel draws on its surrounding environment, reflecting Colorado’s natural colors, textures and style — with significant artful twists here and there.
Guestrooms and public spaces are sophisticated and sleek, but warm woods, beams, leather and copper tones — elements of a mountain lodge — offset the contemporary coolness of dark greys and marble.
A massive two-story brick fireplace rises from the lower level through the lobby, underscoring the mountain-lodge effect. Expansive yet somewhat minimalist, the lobby adheres to current trends, offering only a small check-in desk at the back and multiple seating areas where guests can relax or work and small groups can gather.
A compact coffee bar at one end offers morning cappuccinos and pastries, while at the other end, an elegant lobby bar and cocktail lounge, Bar M, sits just outside restaurant Chez Maggy. Art can be discovered everywhere in a wide range of styles, forms and textures, primarily showcasing Colorado artists. Overall, the effect is one of upscale tranquility, but with the possibility of a trendy crowd arriving any minute to see and be seen.
Thompson Denver Restaurant, Chez Maggy
Chez Maggy’s menu includes a few nods to Colorado with such dishes as Bison Tartare, Bison Bourguignon, trout and a selection of Colorado brews.
“I’m obsessed with bison,” said Ludo Lefebvre, the Michelin-starred chef with restaurants in Los Angeles, who plans to commute between California and Colorado. One of his team members affectionately describes him as a French cowboy in love with the West, which seems charmingly accurate and perhaps not surprising given that he’s married to a Coloradan.
But make no mistake; Chez Maggy’s menu is primarily traditional French from a classic, but outside-the-box-thinking, French chef.
When asked what he hopes to bring to Denver’s dining scene, he smiles.
“Butter,” Lefebvre answered.
He’s not kidding. The French dishes are rich with butter, cream or both — and thus deeply delicious. There are some surprises, too. The foie gras is decadently tucked into a beignet and the escargot has a spicy kick. Steak frites is offered three different ways, while the duck’s fragrant herbed crust delivers an unusual but delicious flavor profile.
However, Chef Lefebvre says he is not out to reinvent the culinary wheel.
“I felt it was important to present good French food, not to reinvent anything,” he said. “The dishes are very simple.”
It's the combination of classic French and quintessential Colorado that really makes Chez Maggy stand out. The restaurant is open for three meals daily, so guests can start their day with more of the chef’s inspired interpretations. I suggest the decadent, thick stack of French toast topped with ice cream, or locally loved Colorado-Mexican chilaquiles. Either way, diet another day.
The Thompson brand’s commitment to infusing local culture and history into each hotel plays out in a multitude of ways. Duel, for example, the name of the coffee bar in the lobby, is a nod to an incident involving two notorious Denver madams and the man they both wanted.
The story goes that they squared off at dawn down by the Platte River, fired, and when the smoke cleared both women were still standing, but the object of their affection was on the ground shot in the neck. No matter that it’s likely more myth than truth — it’s a good story and part of Denver’s Wild West history.
On the sixth floor is Reynard Social. That name comes from a beloved character in European folklore, mischievous and scheming Reynard the fox. The lounge is intended as a place where playfulness is celebrated and being just a little bit naughty is OK. It hasn’t quite caught on yet — but the year is young, the Thompson is new and the future is still unwritten.
About Thompson Hotels
There are currently just 19 Thompson hotels across the globe, 12 in U.S. cities (New York has three); one in Madrid, Spain; and three in Mexican resort towns. Hyatt has been aggressive in opening new Thompson properties, and more are in the pipeline. Although there’s just one European property currently, Thompson hotels have a distinctly European feel thanks to an inherent intimacy and the melding of multiple cultures in each hotel’s design and intent. In Denver, it’s Europe meets the West, an intriguing combination of Old World and new, classic sophistication and mountain ruggedness, that brings out the best of both.