Historic Denver Hotels

by Maria Scinto

The city of Denver was originally established as a mining camp during the Pike's Peak gold rush of 1858 but by the 1890s had grown to be the third largest city in the west behind San Francisco and Omaha. Several Denver inns and hotels date back to those late19th-century boom years, and strive to preserve their Victorian charm while offering modern travelers the finest 21st-century amenities.

Oxford Hotel

When the Oxford Hotel opened its doors in 1891, it was Denver’s very first hotel. 19th-century patrons were impressed by its cutting-edge technology, including an elevator, steam heat and electric lighting. Today the hotel, which has undergone extensive restoration in order to restore it to its original Victorian splendor, is a favorite with guests who enjoy its oak-paneled opulence and antique furnishings such as claw-foot bathtubs and four-poster beds. The hotel's amenities are anything but antique, however, as each room features free Wi-Fi, Bose stereo systems, mp3 player docking stations and plasma TVs. The hotel also offers a day spa, hair salon and fitness center. Dining options include 24-hour room service and a full-service restaurant, McCormick’s Fish House and Bar. Even the hotel bar, the Cruise Room, boasts its own historical significance, as it claims to be Denver's first bar, having opened in 1933, the day after Prohibition was repealed. The hotel lobby, restaurant and bar are all graced with examples of 19th- and early 20th-century western art, many of the pieces acquired by the Oxford in payment for the artist's hotel bill or, in some cases, bar tab.

Brown Palace Hotel

The Brown Palace, built in 1892, is the only Denver-area hotel to be listed with the Historic Hotels of America program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, an honor it received in acknowledgment of its local historic significance. The Brown Palace has hosted numerous prominent guests over the years, including the "unsinkable" Titanic survivor Molly Brown and every U.S. president but Calvin Coolidge. Every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, the Brown Palace opens its doors to the general public, providing tours of its Italian Renaissance Revival architecture as well as stories about past guests--and even a few possible ghosts. In addition to historic charm, the Brown Palace also offers a wide range of modern amenities which have earned it both a four star and a four diamond rating from the Forbes Travel Guide and AAA respectively. Guest rooms offer terry-cloth robes, cordless two-line phones and in-room safes, and hotel amenities include a full-time concierge, 24-hour valet parking, a flower shop and a spa with six different treatment rooms. 24-hour room service is available in all rooms, and other dining options include afternoon tea or cocktails in the lobby as well as four different restaurants offering cuisine ranging from contemporary fine dining in the Palace Arms to microbrews and burgers in the Ship Tavern.

Castle Marne

Castle Marne, listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, was built in 1889 as a private residence. Its architect, WIlliam Lang, is best known for designing Denver's famous Molly Brown House, and this gothic-inspired castle reflects many of his signature touches including stained glass windows and ornate woodwork. Castle Marne has been open as a bed and breakfast in for over 20 years, and its nine guest rooms include unique Victorian touches such as pull-chain toilets, claw-footed tubs and brass beds along with modern features such as whirlpool tubs and Wi-Fi. In addition to serving breakfast, the inn also offers afternoon tea to its guests, and has a restaurant featuring prixe fixe six-course dinners including one vegetarian entree choice. Parking at the Castle Marne is free.

Capitol Hill Mansion

The Capitol Hill Mansion, formerly known as the Keating Mansion, was constructed in 1891 on Capitol Hill by lumber baron Jeffrey Keating. He spent a great deal of money on his showpiece home, built in the Romanesque style complete with a turret, tall chimneys and a wide, pillared porch. All of these features have been lovingly restored and preserved, as have the interior oak paneling, grand staircase, marble fireplace and stained glass windows. Guest rooms at the Capitol Hill Mansion include such special features as wall murals and canopied beds, and several of the rooms are even built right into the turret. Each room is graced with fresh flowers and growing plants, and not only are guests served a hot breakfast every day, but they are also treated to wine every evening. The Capitol Hill Mansion is an LGBT-friendly establishment and was selected by Out Front Colorado magazine as 2010's OUTstanding Bed and Breakfast.

About the Author

I am a former librarian turned freelance writer and researcher - I got my start writing for writeforcash.com, and this was when I first learned I could turn my talent for research into writing articles on just about any topic. Parenting is my favorite topic - I am the homeschooling work-at-home single mom of a four-year-old son. I also enjoy writing about pets (I have a Chow/Husky mix, 2 orange-striped kittens, and a hermit crab - unless he died since I last checked - and I used to have a fish but the kittens ate him), food (I like to cook, like to eat out, just plain love to eat), dieting (my metabolism isn't so crazy about all this eating), TV (my son and I are up on all the latest cartoon series). I have regular gigs writing about political questions (for askquestions.org) and all things Virginian (for Northern Virginia Magazine) and also work as a fact checker, web editor, and data annotator.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images