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This Durango Hotel Had a Housekeeping Trick That Transformed 'Hotel Rooms' into 'Guest Rooms'

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 726 E 2nd Ave [map], Durango, Colorado, United States, 81301
April 2, 2014 at 11:55 AM | by | ()

The neon sign outside the Rochester Hotel in Durango, Colo. was definitely an interesting first impression, and even moreso of an eyebrow raiser when we saw it again upon checkout.

The Rochester was built in 1892 and is one of the oldest hotels in Durango. Once a 33-room boarding house, the current owners remodeled it into 15 king and double queen rooms. The original antiques and woodwork are still found in the hallways and rooms, but the hotel has adopted a Western movie theme based on films that were shot in the area. Think framed movie posters, film histories, and photographs in the hallways.

Despite the images that movie posters and out-of-place neon signs bring to mind, the hotel was incredibly genuine, feeling more like a B&B than anything else. It essentially was at the end of the day, with a free made-to-order breakfast included in the rate, and a little housekeeping trick that did a really good job of making us feel like we were a guest at someone's house rather than customers at a hotel: After it was made up, they left the doors of all the unoccupied rooms open.

At first, we didn't think much of it, walking the hallways and peeking in, happy for the glimpse inside the other rooms. But the more time we spent in the hotel, the more the openness contributed to the vibe of our stay. We truly felt like guests in someone's house, like we could just walk in and lay on the bed if we wanted, like it was our siblings room or something.

With so much emphasis placed on security these days, not to mention the tendency for hotels to be extremely heavy and self-closing, it was refreshing to see the true power of the word "guest room" win out over "hotel room," something that only comes along with a stay at a small inn. By day two, this contributor found himself leaving the door open when he was in the room at his desk and when he ran down the hall for a coffee or to visit the front desk. This approach might not be a fit for larger hotels concerned about security, but we think its a great touch for all small properties. And, at the very least, perhaps bigger places could think about ways to make the doors not seem so heavy.

As for that neon sign, even the owner is unsure of the its origins other than it was there "during the 40s or 50s" and liked by locals. When he began renovating the hotel, he said the community showed concern that he would take it down, and so it remains today.

Rates start at $129/night.

Will stayed as a guest of the Rochester Hotel while on assignment for another publication, but all opinions are his own.

[Photos: Will McGough/Ryan Dearth]

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