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We love hotel renovations nearly just as much as we love new hotels. But what we really love about hotel renovations is seeing the transformation that happens when an old, tired and lackluster room gets a modern makeover and transforms into new, spiffed-up, stylish guest room. Or put more simply, we love comparing the Before and After.
As new hotels continue to open up across the city of Denver, the Hotel Teatro is not letting the new kids in town steal the entire spotlight.
This month, the hotel showed off its recently transformed common areas, including a brand new lobby and restaurant concept. The changes keep the marble and architectural detail of the original 1911 building, but definitely inject a sense of modernism. Let's take a look inside with some before and after photos:
Exterior of Denver's Union Station, location of the Crawford Hotel
If the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center has the most beautiful lobby in Denver, then the one at the brand new Crawford Hotel has the best buzz. Maybe that's because it's not really a lobby at all. Located in the freshly renovated Union Station in downtown Denver, the hotel sits above the main train terminal, home to ten bars and restaurants. If you're looking for a place to escape the vibe of the city, the Crawford Hotel is not the place to do it. As the newest refurbishment project in the city, Union Station has embraced the spotlight since opening in late July.
Dominating the scene in the "lobby" is the Terminal Bar, which, while having its own dedicated space, pours out into the terminal and offers about 40 Colorado beers on tap. Two shuffleboard courts sit in the middle of the main room, and a walk-up window allows easy access for those who prefer to have a drink in the common space and watch the coming and goings of the station. The rest of the restaurants and bars are located outside of the main room, designated by signs reminiscent of old-school train schedule boards, similar to the one below that marks the location of the Crawford's concierge desk.
Signs reminiscent of old-school train schedule boards hang on the walls of the terminal
One of the most unique things about the Crawford is that you can "go out" without really "going out." Sure, lots of hotels have restaurants in their lobbies, but most of the time, you feel like you're having dinner in a hotel. Because there is so much going on at the Crawford - and the fact that there's really no lobby - a guest instantly forgets they are in a hotel upon exiting their room. Eatery options range from small coffee shops to local favorites: Stoic & Genuine for seafood and raw bar, the Kitchen Next Door for farm-to-table fare, and Snooze, Denver's infamous "A.M. Eatery," known for its pancakes and Benedicts.
Monte Carlo Suite with King Bed
The Mile High City will have four new hotels opening this year, including the exciting Crawford Hotel in Union Station, so it's easy to see how an "older" property like the Hotel Monaco Denver could get lost in the crowd. And not just amongst competitors, but amongst its own brand as well. A few months ago, we learned that Kimpton will open its second property in the city next year.
But all hope is not lost. The 189-room boutique hotel was renovated back in December of 2010, and during our stay last week, we did not see any signs of aging. During happy hour, between the daily wine hour in the lobby and the crowd at the in-house restaurant Panzano, it was very obvious that the Monaco still has plenty of gas in the tank.
After touring the room options at the Monaco as part of our Best Room to Book series, our recommendation is the Monte Carlo Suite. Starting at $299/night during the summer, the upgrade will typically cost about $50-$80 more than a standard room. For that price, you get 125 more feet of space, which is mostly in the form of a separate sitting area with a pull out couch.
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Menu items at the Renaissance Denver Downtown.
Last week, while having a drink in the lobby of the Renaissance Denver Downtown - we opened the bar menu to take a peek at the fare. Amongst the typical city-priced items, we noticed that one option stood out from the rest.
It looked strange and out of place, that last item with the peculiar price tag: 99 cent homeamde chips and dip. Was this a mistake? If soft pretzels are $8, and almonds $6... were the chips stale or something? We immediately put our hand in the air for the bartender to come over. We pointed at the menu. Are you serious with these chips?
Well, wouldn't you know that we just so happened to stumble upon one of the industry's best kept secrets. Turns out, all 157 Renaissance Hotels around the world have featured 99 cent chips on their bar menus since 2010. We've always been told to never question a good thing, but that simply doesn't work for a writer. Why, in a world where, quite frankly, hotel guests have become complacent and accepting of overpaying for food and beverage, would a hotel do such a thing?
Kicking off what is set to be a big summer for new hotels in downtown Denver, the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center, or as we prefer, the Ren Den, officially opened its doors late last month in the former Colorado Bank Building at 17th and Champa.
We knew to expect a sense of grandness given the pre-opening reports that the hotel would keep the major columns, vaults, and historical features of the building intact, but when we walked in for the first time last week, it was immediately clear that the hotel had done much more than simply overtake a historic building. No, this was something much more epic. This was the lobby that the local Denver press is referring to as the most beautiful room in city.
Despite being immediately impressed by how vast the room is and feeling small beneath its towering ceiling, it's all in the details at the Renaissance. Overhead, the Bank's original murals still hang, and the former safe, just off the lobby with the 62,000-pound door always propped open, has been converted into a meeting room. A drink at the lobby bar is an absolute must to take it all in, and be sure to take a walk downstairs, one floor below the lobby, to check out several other old vaults. Check out the photo gallery below to get a sense of the experience.
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If you live in the area or plan to pass through Denver next week, the JW Marriott Cherry Creek is going to be the temporary home for an exclusive showing of Impressionist & Modern paintings, American art, 19th Century European art, and luxury timepieces on April 22rd through 24th.
It promises to be a pretty impressive exhibit, featuring more than 15 pieces that include paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Thomas Moran, Camille Pissarro, and Norman Rockwell, plus sculptures by Edgar Degas and Henry Moore.
Put on in a partnership with Christie’s Fine Art, the collection is making a stop in Denver on its way to be auctioned off in New York City later this year. Believe it or not, the painting shown below by Thomas Moran, entitled "The Grand Canyon of the Colorado," was painted in 1904 and is expected to sell for $8 million. $8 million!
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Back in January, we asked the question, "When will the first Denver hotel openly allow pot smoking?" now that the state has legalized marijuana and today, we find out that a hotel is already in the works.
Except it's not a traditional hotel. But rather, a bed and breakfast which will be turned into a...wait for it...bud and breakfast.
Eater reports that a company called...wait for it... The MaryJane Group, Inc. has bought the Adagio Bed and Breakfast with the hopes of turning it into a "pilot project in the marijuana-friendly lodging industry." And...wait for it...the B&B will be all-inclusive!
Guests will have "unlimited food, drink and, of course, the best marijuana and marijuana edibles Colorado has to offer." There will also be an on-site chef available to cook meals to order as well as unlimited luxury transportation within Denver city with...wait for it...24 hour security. Here's the full press release if you're interested.
If this pilot project is successful, The MaryJane Group hopes to expand to other B&Bs.
So we gotta ask--Would you stay at a Bud and Breakfast? Sound off in comments below!
[Photo: Adagio B&B]
It's been no secret that Denver, a city once considered a "cattle town," is growing up right in front of our eyes. With six hotels in the pipeline for the next two years, it is an incredible increase considering the city's relatively small downtown. We look forward to watching the progress it makes in the coming years, and wish each of the hotels luck in serving their role. Here's an updated list with details and opening dates:
1. The Crawford Hotel:Much of downtown's growth is revolving around Union Station, which is being completely redeveloped in anticipation of the launch of the airport line in 2016. The Crawford Hotel, set to open July 12th with 112 rooms, will be the only hotel to rest within its walls. It should be pretty impressive and we can't wait to get a glimpse of its railcar-themed rooms.
As part of a big upcoming year for Denver's hotel scene, The Crawford Hotel will open in the repurposed Union Station this summer on July 12th. Looks like the momentum will continue into 2015, as Kimpton has announced it will build a property nearby in the same "LoDo" neighborhood.
Details are very slim, but we do know that the new hotel, which is currently without a name, will have 200 rooms and become the city's second Kimpton property and the third in the state overall, joining the Hotel Monaco a few blocks away and the party-oriented Sky Hotel in Aspen.
It's hard to believe that the Hotel Monaco opened over 15 years ago in 1998, and we're happy to see Kimpton make a return to the Mile High City, which has been absolutely blooming of late. The new property is slated for a late 2015 opening, and we'll be sure to pass on details as they are announced over the next year.
For tourists coming into the Mile High City looking to take advantage of its newly legalized recreational marijuana laws, a roadblock quickly reveals itself.
By law, pot can only be smoked in the privacy of your own residence. Not in public, not in bars, not in your car. So, if you're a tourist and you go buy pot legally, where exactly is the most obvious place to smoke it? That's right -- your hotel room.
But, according to a source who spoke to HotelChatter on the case of anonymity, most brand-name hotels are terrified of being portrayed as pot-friendly. Many impose a fine on guests who are caught smoking pot in their rooms, similar to the cleaning fee associated with cigarette smoking.
We've said our piece about how impressed we are with Denver's up-and-coming hotel scene (seriously, we think we've done more stories on the Mile High City in the past few months than we ever have), so we'll get right to the new juicy deets on two new Starwood properties: The opening of a Westin at DIA Airport in 2015 and an Aloft downtown in July of 2014.
Westin DIA: Once the train is complete that will connect DIA with downtown, a Hotel and Transit Center (shown above) is on track to open that will house entertainment and restaurant options as well as lodging. Thus far, the only announcement has been a 519-room Westin. Details of the hotel are scarce at this point, other than that it will open in 2015 and include "nearly 26,000 square feet of meeting and conference space as well as restaurants, a health club and swimming pool and a parking garage." There's also no word yet on whether there will be other hotels on-site, but we'll keep you posted.
Anyone who has been paying attention knows that Denver is one of the most developing cities in the country when it comes to its downtown, slowly but surely transitioning over the past decade from a mountain town to a legit metropolitan area.
The latest chatter to come out of the Mile High City is last week's ground breaking of the Art Hotel, one of four new hotels to open in 2014 (the other three are the Marriott Renaissance in the Colorado National Bank Building, the Union Station Hotel, and the Aloft Downtown Denver). The first three floors of the nine-story building will be office space, and guests will check in via iPads on the fourth floor.