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Sweet Dreams in Denver

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.)

Denver | Camels & ChocolateI’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.

Denver | Camels & ChocolateRegardless, in case you find yourself in the Colorado capital anytime soon, here’s a round-up of my favorite Denver hotels—and what makes them so:

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.

JW Marriott Denver | Camels & ChocolateWhat 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.

JW Marriott Denver | Camels & ChocolateWhat 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.

JW Marriott Denver | Camels & Chocolate

*****

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.

Curtis Hotel | Camels & ChocolateWhat 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?

Curtis Hotel | Camels & ChocolateWhat didn’t jive: the room size. I’m quite claustrophobic and felt a bit cramped in a corner room, even staying solo. That said, I will say the size is typical for any downtown hotel.

*****

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.)

Ritz Carlton Denver | Camels & ChocolateWhat 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.

Ritz Carlton Denver | Camels & ChocolateWhat 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.

Hotel Monaco | Camels & ChocolateWhat 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?

Hotel Monaco | Camels & ChocolateWhat didn’t jive: nothing. Next time I return to Denver, I will be staying at the Monaco, no questions asked.

*****

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.)

Feel free to weigh in: Do you have a favorite Denver hotel that I left out of the mix?

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Comments ( 55 )

  1. Uhhh…OK, I’ll have to trust you when you say that the lifestyle is not so posh… ;) But judging from the pictures you do get some great treats!
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  2. Yep, you hit the best ones!! I can vouch for the downtown Four Seasons; the accommodations and spa are most excellent. Same goes for the Brown Palace; love love the history there, and the rooms are beautiful.

    I just stayed at the brand-new SpringHill Suites (Marriott) downtown. This budget-friendly property is especially cool because it’s associated with Metro State University’s hospitality program (right next door), so you’ve got college kids working and interning there. Rooms are contemporary; location is just a couple blocks from hip Larimer Square.
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  3. Hey, I’m from Denver! Which means I’ve never stayed in any of those hotels. I do know, and love, that Hotel Monaco is pet friendly, which I think is so cool. I have leaving the pooches behind when I travel, but honestly I usually opt for the pet-friendly cabins, B&Bs, and motels, as opposed to luxury hotels. As far as hanging out, the Oxford has a great bar (the Cruise Room) and the Brown Palace has a few cool handouts.
    Bess recently posted..Bar Review: Williams & GrahamMy Profile

  4. Colorado is your favourite state, out of all of them! Wow I may need to get down there.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Well hello there, Snoop Lion?My Profile

  5. Girl, reading your blog always makes me so happy! (Coincidence that 9 times out of 10 I am reading it from a cubicle? HA!)

    Anyway, I’m devouring everything Colorado related since we will be there at the end of this month for a whole week. It’s my first time there so I’m excited! I know we won’t get to see everything (not even close — especially since I’ll be working for a bit) but excited nonetheless. I’ll have to check out Widmu the next time we are booking places for travel. I’d never heard of it!
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    • I’m so excited for your Paleo conference! I can’t wait to read about it and hear what all you get into in Denver. Honestly, if we hadn’t planned on moving back to Tennessee already, I would have strongly considered relocating there.

  6. I fell in love with Colorado when I came to visit over 10 years ago, which is why I moved here about a year after that visit. And I don’t think I’ll ever leave.

    Myself and a couple of girlfriends stayed at The Curtis one night this summer, for one girlfriend’s bachelorette night. I thought it was so quirky and fun and really walkable to bars and restaurants.

    Hotel Monaco is THE place I want to stay at someday. Maybe myself and my guy should’ve booked our wedding night there instead of the hotel we blocked out rooms at. Hmmm…

  7. My favorite hotel is called Heather’s Couch. It’s located in my best friend’s apartment, and I am absolutely itching to stay there! (Like I think I’m developing a rash from how badly I want to go to Denver to see her and her fiance. Seriously, come look at this, it’s gross.)

    Though I suppose a good second choice would be the Curtis. I mean, who doesn’t love an Etch-a-Sketch?

  8. Thanks for the Wimdu link. Think I’ll use that while in Las Vegas for the January NMX. Care to join me and share expenses?
    Gaelyn recently posted..My Friday on Tuesday at Grand CanyonMy Profile

    • I would love to, but Scott has made me promise to stay home for all of December and January as I have a really big trip coming up in February and then will be gone all of April through June…

  9. I was super lucky to have a friend who let me crash with her when I was in Denver for TBEX, but I wouldn’t have minded staying in one of these plush places! Lovely.
    Alex recently posted..My Upcoming Travel Plans Revealed!My Profile

    • I did the crashing thing with Samantha the last time I was there! So best of both worlds: having a local friend when you need it, but also a plush place to stay at times!

  10. first photo is stunning. love the purple, my gosh! never been to CO. you ARE lucky you got 2 go! and love this post bc it emits the true essence of your career…and how …amazing you created this job, worked towards it..hehe. ok i am rambling now :-P

  11. I think that perfume would drive me nuts too. But somehow, I think I could handle it for one night at the Ritz… :)

  12. You’ve got Denver covered. I love Hotel Monaco. Kimpton Hotels are usually great.

  13. Denver is one of my favorite cities. I just stayed at the Hotel Monaco in Portland…. best hotel stay I have ever had.

  14. When we were in Colorado we stayed in Westminster, so outside of Denver, but it was an awesome property: The Westin Westminster. I loved it because it was close to Boulder and still close enough to drive into Denver when we wanted, the property sits adjacent to a complex that has ice skating, a butterfly center, Rock Bottom Brewery, Caribou Coffe House, a bowling alley and a bunch of other stuff.

    We did a lot of driving around the state that trip and it was nice to have such a great place to come back to at the end of our drives.
    Raven recently posted..assumed learningMy Profile

    • Oooh, I love the sound of the Westin (and I’m a fan of the brand!). Will have to stay there next time I’m road tripping around Colorado (which hopefully won’t be too long from now!).

  15. That’s so funny that you mention the Bulgari smell at the Ritz…I’ve stayed at the one in Battery Park a couple times, and I loved the Bulgari toiletries so much that I ended up buying a perfume of the same scent. Sounds like I would have been very happy in your room :)
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  16. I understand that some of them you don’t get to experience the hotel so much as you’re just in and out – bu the beds in these places look incredible! I always sleep well in nice hotel bed. Thanks for sharing some good info!
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  17. They are all sooo beautiful!!! Love the shots!
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  18. I made my first trip to Colorado last year, and while I flew into Denver I didn’t stay as I was going to a family reunion. But I loved my weekend there and totally want to go back!
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  19. I am always so impressed by your hotel photography. Seriously lady – these ARE SO GOOD.
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    • Oh you are so sweet! I do a whole lot of standing on furniture on my tiptoes to photograph interiors–shhh, don’t tell the hotels; I’m sure they don’t want my shoes on their dressers, ha =)

  20. Hotel Monaco is a gem!! Although I love the Curtis as well :) Do they still do fresh baked cookies?
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    • Yes, they do! It’s a Doubletree service–you get fresh-baked cookies at any Doubletree hotel you stay at anywhere! (I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t often the swaying factor for staying in a Doubletree.)

  21. Wow I love these hotels! I am from New Mexico, so clearly I have a lot of connection to Colorado. What I love most about Denver is that it’s cozy and cold — but sunny. As long as there’s sun, I can deal with a lot!
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  22. WOW. These all look lovely. They are a far cry from the POS drug den I stayed at when visiting Denver this past June!
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  23. Kimpton’s really are the best – they’re comfortable and quirky and that’s exactly what I want in a hotel – add in a free wine hour and the option to bring my pets along, and I’m in heaven.
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  24. This is great because you only ever hear about The Brown Palace. Thanks for sharing something new, especially for someone who is familiar with Denver.

  25. I first stayed at The Curtis from January to March 2010 and I have been coming back ever since. It is my home in Denver. Even though I am now based in New York, Curtis will always be where I will call home in Denver – best value for money, staff friendliness and courtesy, facilities, and that overall feeling you of home.
    Sincerely,
    Paul from http://www.stayinsa.co.za

  26. These look like great amenities. I will have to consider going here in Denver. And maybe I’ll read a Book of Mormon stored in the drawers!!

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  1. [...] when I found myself in Denver in February working on a travel guide for Sunset, I was all about hitting up the attractions [...]

  2. [...] level, and I was initially concerned about the overwhelming scents—last year when I stayed in the Ritz in Denver, my head pounded from the Bvlgari smells wafting throughout my suite—but I was pleased to [...]

  3. [...] level, and I was initially concerned about the overwhelming scents—last year when I stayed in the Ritz in Denver, my head pounded from the Bvlgari smells wafting throughout my suite—but I was pleased to [...]

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