Let’s begin in LoDo (Lower Downtown) at The Crawford Hotel. It’s actually inside of Union Station -- a must-stop on your trip, so there’s an easy bonus. You’ll enjoy all the luxe accommodations you’d expect from a top-notch resort, and you’re in the center of the action to boot. The Crawford’s sister hotel, The Oxford, is just up the block and offers a cozier, more historic take on a five-star experience. Its Cruise Room bar is also on ye olde Denver bucket list.
The Maven is brand spankin’ new, ultra-sleek, and part of another big development: the Dairy Block. Farther uptown, you’ll find The Oxford’s big competitor for historic hotel swagger: The Brown Palace. Its high tea (no, not that kind), brunches, bars, and holiday decorations are the stuff of legend. Around the corner and up a few blocks you’ll find the contemporary ART, conveniently positioned by the Denver Art Museum and Clyfford Still.
A note about staying downtown: If you stay at one of the many, many chain hotels -- and you totally should, if you get a righteous deal, because some are really, really nice -- there’s a good chance your concierge will tell you to check out the 16th Street Mall. You should pretty much only go there if you want to ride on the free bus. It’s Denver’s version of Times Square (except that I.M. Pei designed it). And if that’s your jam, cool, but how the hell have you gotten this far into this guide?
A new hotel in Denver’s hippest neighborhood, you say? Tell us more. The Ramble is dripping with style and indulgence. It also happens to house two of the biggest draws in town: SuperMegaBien and the second outpost of a New York City cocktail boss, Death & Co.
Much the same could be said for The Source Hotel, which has a ton of awesome shit inside like Crooked Stave (an award-winning brewery), Safta (mind-blowing Israeli) and Smōk (BBQ baby). You basically wouldn’t even need to leave if you didn’t want to.
For whatever reason, Denver residents have taken to calling this neighborhood “the Highlands,” so you’ll hear it both ways. It’s a gorgeous, historic ‘hood with a ton of kickass restaurants (Bar Dough, El Five), bars (Occidental, Recess Beer Garden) and a knockout view of downtown. And there’s an affordable, pet-friendly Residence Inn up yonder! Hooray!
Like Highland, you’re not going to find a ton of hotel options in the 'hood that juts out from behind the Capitol building and runs east along Colfax. But, if bar-hopping down Colfax is central to your being here -- and it very well should be -- there’s a wild-ass Ramada right in the middle of the action. We can pretty much guarantee staying there will be an unforgettable experience. There’s also Adagio, which bills itself as a “bud and breakfast.” It’s housed inside an old Victorian inn and, well, you get its main selling point.
The Ameristar in Black Hawk is there for all of your gambling needs, or have a spa day at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Chief Hosa is a storied campground in Golden located close enough to Red Rocks -- if that’s what brings you to town. And speaking of Red Rocks: The just-opened Origin on West Colfax is tying itself pretty heavily to the venue, offering $15 round-trip shuttles for shows.
Just a 40ish-minute drive northwest, the college town of Boulder moves at a slower pace than Denver and is a haven for the outdoorsy, with quicker access to skiing and snowboarding. Plus, it has remarkable offerings of its own, like Frasca Food & Wine, Celestial Seasonings, and Upslope Brewing Company. If you decide to stay in the area, the Chautauqua cottages are a summer family photo waiting to happen.
Just be sure to make it back to Denver, but, like, carpool if you decide to stay forever.