In January, I spent some time in Denver, Colorado, at the Great National Western Stock Show (www.nationalwestern.com) and at the annual Western and English Sales Association trade show, and I had the pleasure of visiting two classic Denver hotels. They're worth noting, because both are housed in stone buildings that were constructed over 100 years ago. Wander through either for a Denver history lesson—our frontier day roots are closer to the surface than we realize.
In 1910, the family home of the original Governor of the Colorado territory, John Evans, was demolished to make way for the corporate headquarters of the Denver Tramway Company. The Evans family hired two local prominent architects (William E. and Arthur A. Fisher) to design an eight-story office building and an adjacent three-story car barn. The Evan's Denver Tramway Company eventually became RTD, Denver's present transportation company, and in 1998 Hotel Teatro opened its doors, after an 18-month, multi-million dollar restoration of the original "Tramway Tower" office building. The classic gray stone exterior hides very modern rooms, plush with fine textiles, wood, and glass. Who knew a black-tiled and metal-trimmed bathroom could look so good? Centrally located, you can easily walk through downtown or to the Pepsi Center and return to what feels like (and basically is) an intimate, boutique hotel, without the pretense.
A gigantic monolith, the Brown Palace is a Denver icon that even offers guided tours of the building. If you want a cozy, classy experience, go with Hotel Teatro; to see a bucking bull penned in the spectacular lobby (during the National Western Stock Show) or to drink locally-brewed honey beer made from the bee hives housed on the building's roof, stay at the Brown Palace. Heck, even sitting Presidents have stayed here. It may lack Hotel Teatro's more personal touch, but this place oozes Victorian charm. Wrought iron and carved wood never looked so right.