"Cultured, outdoorsy bon vivants." Those four words describe the kinds of travelers who will revel in a trip to Denver. If the Mile High City ran a personals ad trying to find “the one,” it might say, “Seeking a foodie who likes to imbibe top-shelf stuff and has a penchant for luxury experiences. Must love creativity as much as we do, and dig nature but still like to stroll around a modern city.” If that’s you, the experience of laying your head in Denver has to start with dropping off your luggage at one of downtown’s three design forward hotels. Each has enough instagrammable moments to inspire envy in your followers: The Crawford Hotel in Denver Union Station (suites from $699 per night), The Maven (Diamond suite from $1,059 per night) or The Oxford Hotel (presidential suite from $599 per night) are all run by locally based Sage Hospitality and evoke wildly different vibes.
The Crawford Hotel is situated within Denver Union Station, a still-active major transportation hub with bustling dining and shopping hot spots.
For those seeking historic ambiance, The Oxford Hotel was built in 1891 as a high-end hotel near Union Station. Its 80 rooms have seen many renovations over the last century, but the property has loads of Gilded Age architectural charms. Take the stained glass, tile work, soaring ceilings and a red glow Prohibition-era bar called The Cruise Room that will have you feeling as if you’ve stepped onto a Cedric Gibbons movie set.
The Crawford Hotel is as unique and historic as The Oxford but located down the street inside Denver Union Station. Sleepyheads shouldn’t fear: The property has thick glass and doors so guests in its 112 rooms never hear the bustling scene below in the building’s restaurants, bars and open atrium. There is a mix of three luxe room options: Pullman rooms inspired by sleeper train cars, classic rooms styled in Victorian-era decor and loft-style rooms in the property’s former attic space.
The Oxford Hotel is a historic gem with Denver’s longest-running bar.
If you’d rather spend your nights in a more modern era surrounded by ’gramworthy moments, then The Maven is more your speed. An Airstream-turned-drink truck awaits in the lobby, as well as an enormous wooden hand pointing to art-filled elevators and away from the adjacent Denver Milk Market, part of the larger Dairy Block. The smattering of restaurants and bars in this hip food hall run by local chef Frank Bonanno are such a delight that foodies must stay here— at the very least to indulge in every craving from bao buns to Hawaiian poke to Nashville hot chicken to made-to-order crepes. There are 16 dining concepts in the always-packed hot spot, and serious bingo games take place regularly.
“Dark Matter Gathering” by Travis Hetman, one of 700 artworks by Colorado artists, greets guests at The Maven’s elevators.
Once upstairs in The Maven’s guest rooms, you’ll find large, comfy trundle beds with bunks hovering above, barn doors and eclectic furnishings. And although you’ll want to hunker down beneath the fluffy white duvet covers, get out into the city’s artsy parts. Il Posto in RiNo is the perfect place for day drinking thanks to their addictive Negronis. Chef-owner Andrea Frizzi recently moved the charming Italian bistro downtown and into a light-filled space. The second floor has an incredible view where you can enjoy Frizzi’s family recipes such as housemade burrata, pappardelle with Berkshire pork-marjoram ragu and classic tomato spaghetti with rock shrimp.
On the cuisine scene in LoDo, there’s Coohills, a gem owned by a husband-and-wife team who were doing farm-to-table, local and seasonal before it was a thing. All the house-cured charcuteries and pates are as good to start with as the homemade pastries and ice creams are to end with. When the weather is right, sitting on the patio overlooking Cherry Creek and the Wewatta Street railroad bridge is a special experience.
There are so many moments like this throughout Denver: from walking through the galleries and viewing street art along the River North Art District to catching a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre nearby. Those looking for an ideal mix of outdoorsy with a touch of city life have met their perfect match