Lately I’ve been using apartment-booking services like Wimdu to save a few dollars on personal travel, but when I’m on assignment, it’s generally a life of living in hotels (rough, I know). Back in February, I was in Colorado for a week where I stayed in five hotels in six nights. I’m tired just thinking about all that moving around! (This is when traveling with just a carry-on truly comes in handy.)
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Colorado is probably my favorite state in the continental US, and I’ve been fortunate to land assignments that took me to the lovely state three times in the last year alone. (And I’ll gladly go again if anyone wants to hire me!) This past visit, I was working on an Insider Guide for Sunset magazine, which meant I put more time into researching what accommodation I would include in the article than I did on the ground in Denver. Such is the life of a travel writer: The research is 99 percent of it, while the travel is almost secondary! It’s really not as glamorous a career as it sounds, I swear.
Contemporary & Comfortable: The JW Marriott Denver
I’ve stayed at a few JW Marriotts over the past few years and am quickly becoming a huge fan of the brand. The design is much more up my alley—a mix of modern touches and bold accent colors—than just a regular ol’ Marriott, and the rooms are just oh-so-comfortable. The Cherry Creek property also has a 9,300-square-foot spa, 24-hour fitness center, Jacuzzi on the outdoor sundeck, and onsite Second Home Kitchen + Bar that was hopping with locals when we checked in late on a Friday night.
What I loved: the decor. The location (right in the middle of Cherry Cheek’s bustling, high-end shopping and dining area). The feeling that you’re staying in a really nice hotel, but at the same time, it’s not at all stuffy.
What didn’t jive: absolutely nothing. I wish I’d had more time to explore the amenities and services the JW offers, but we were in and out pretty quickly en route to Vail.
The Quirky, Inexpensive Boutique: The Curtis
I was surprised when I found out the Curtis was a Doubletree by Hilton hotel, as it had so much character and didn’t mimic the look of other Doubletrees I’d stayed in elsewhere. It’s situated right across the street from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and a short walk to the 16th Street Mall and makes a great base for those in town to do the whole tourist thing.
What I loved: the hotel’s retro feel. The amenities. (I had a mini-Etch-a-Sketch and Sugar Babies in my room! How can you not dig that?) The price (around $99 a night). The fun themes, which spanned each floor. I was on the TV Mania floor, but I wish I had have checked out the One Hit Wonder level. Who do you suppose donned those walls?
The VIP Experience: The Ritz-Carlton, Denver
Given its central locale and that it’s one of the fancier stays in town, the Ritz-Carlton Denver often plays host to entire sports teams as well as other visiting celebrities. (The guys of Widespread Panic were dining next to me while I was eating breakfast at ELWAY’S on the ground floor.) The Ritz also boasts an absolutely massive fitness facility, FORZA, which includes a basketball court, saltwater lap pool, weight room and rock climbing wall—but sadly, I was too busy with meetings and story research to pay it a visit! (Next time.)
What I loved: the opulence that comes with staying at any Ritz property. (Ironically, I was here on Valentine’s Day while SVV was 2,000 miles away in Tennessee!) The club access. The bed—oh good Lord, that bed.
What didn’t jive: I’m really sensitive to smell, and the whole room had been doused with a Bulgari fragrance that gave me a persistent headache during my entire stay. I almost asked to switch rooms because of it, but didn’t want to be perceived a “diva.” So if you stay at the Ritz and, like me, can’t handle perfume, I’d recommend calling in advance and putting in a request for them not to spray your room.
My Overall Favorite: Hotel Monaco
Who doesn’t love a Kimpton experience? All of the brand’s hotels are whimsical and fun, while still feeling quite posh. My friend Samantha—yes, the same one who accompanied me on the ship in May—is a Denver local and came to crash with me for a slumber party. We were in the seventh-floor Monte Carlo room, which was awesome and spacious. I didn’t think about it until later, but we totally forgot to dig out the animal-print robes that are signature at Kimpton properties! Bummer. Those always make for great photo opps.
What I loved: the complimentary wine hour. The easy walk to the 16th Street Mall. The decor. My goal as a new homeowner is to figure out how to mix patterns in such a way that doesn’t come off as tacky. The pet-friendly nature of the whole place. I think Ella would have been in seventh heaven, don’t you?
I also visited the Brown Palace Hotel for the famous afternoon tea and the Four Seasons for cocktails at EDGE; both were absolutely lovely, but seeing as I stayed at neither, I didn’t feel I should include them in a post about my personal experiences in Denver. (Note: I was adding to and updating an existing guide that had already been started by another writer, so both properties had already been reviewed in Sunset.)