At the Center of Denver's Lower Downtown Renaissance, Three Design-Forward Flagship Hotels Emerge

By Stephanie Davis Smith | November 6, 2019 | Lifestyle

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The Oxford was updated in 2018 to give its 80 guest rooms, including this Deluxe Classic, a lighter and brighter overall design that is complemented by pops of blue and emerald green, as well as a mix of original antiques and comfortable contemporary pieces.

If you typically fly into Denver on your way to one of the many nearby ski resorts each winter, it’s high time you finally stop in town for a few days before hitting the slopes. Check in to one of Lower Downtown’s (or LoDo) three designcentric hotels—each with captivating moments that will have you pestering hotel personnel for a back story. All run by locally based Sage Hospitality, The Crawford Hotel in Union Station (LoDo Suite from $699 per night), The Maven Hotel at Dairy Block (The Diamond Suite from $1,059 per night) and The Oxford Hotel (The Presidential Suite from $599 per night) evoke wildly different vibes.

For those seeking historic ambience, The Oxford, circa 1891, was built as a high-end hotel near Union Station. Its 80 rooms have seen many renovations over the last century, but the property has retained loads of Gilded Age architectural charms. The stained glass, tile work, soaring ceiling heights and an art deco Prohibition-era bar called The Cruise Room will have you feeling like you stepped onto a Cedric Gibbons movie set.

The Crawford, equally unique and historical as The Oxford, is nestled within Union Station. Sleepyheads need not fear: The hotel has thick glass and doors so guests in its 112 rooms are never disturbed by the bustling scene below. Here, find three luxurious room options: the Pullman, inspired by Pullman sleeper train cars; the Classic, styled in Victorian-era decor; and Loft rooms, which reside in the property’s former attic space. The latter’s original brick walls, mammoth wooden beams and angled ceilings make them one of my favorite hotel rooms in the country for sheer originality.

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Denver’s Union Station doubles as the lobby of The Crawford.

If you’d rather spend your nights in a more modern era surrounded by social-mediaworthy moments, The Maven is more your speed. An Airstream-turned-drink truck awaits you in the lobby, as well as an enormous wooden hand overhead, which points to the art-filled hotel elevators and away from adjacent Denver Milk Market. The smattering of restaurants and bars in this light-filled hip food hall, run by local chef Frank Bonanno, are such a delight that true foodies must stay at The Maven. At the very least, indulge in every craving from bao buns to Hawaiian poke to Nashville hot chicken to crepes made-to-order. There are 16 dining concepts in this hot spot and serious Bingo games take place on the regular. Sophisticated cocktails can be had at Poka Lola Social Club in the lobby. The fetching scene plays second fiddle to craft cocktails made with specialty sodas bottled on-site. It’s one of the best spots in town for pretheater drinks or a nightcap.

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From top: The lobby of The Maven features a huge hand sculpture by Colorado artist Andrew Ramiro Tirado; Loft rooms at The Crawford have original wood beams and exposed brick.

Once upstairs, The Maven’s guest rooms feature plush beds and eclectic modern furnishings. Although you’ll want to hunker down beneath the fluffy white duvets for a spell, venture into the city’s artsy parts. Il Posto in River North Art District, with the quirky nickname RiNo, is the perfect place for an authentic Negroni. Owner Andrea Frizzi recently moved this charming Italian bistro to the neighborhood and into a light-filled space with the most enormous front door you’ve ever seen. Enjoy Frizzi’s family recipes, such as housemade burrata, pappardelle with Berkshire pork-marjoram rage, and classic tomato spaghetti with rock shrimp, as you take in the incredible views from the second floor. The seasonal wagyu tartare dish with citrus-cured duck egg yolk is a serious starter and nothing to skip over.

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The Maven features more than 400 original art pieces, including this mural in the Maker’s Suite, titled “Mod Maude,” by Karen Fisher.

On the cuisine scene, there’s also Coohills in LoDo, a gem owned by a husband-and-wife team who were doing farm-to-table, local and seasonal fare before it was even a thing. All the house-cured charcuteries and pates are as good to start with as the pastries and ice creams (also made in-house) are to finish. When the weather is right, sitting on the patio overlooking Cherry Creek and the Wewatta Street railroad bridge is a special experience.

There are so many moments such as this throughout Denver—from walking through the galleries and street art in RiNo to catching outdoor shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre nearby to viewing a Broadway show at one of the many in-town theaters. This cheerful town has grown up over the last decade and its signature mix of nature-loving and urban life is something worth delaying your lift ticket a few more days.



Photography by: The Oxford Hotel photo by Jason Dewey Photography | The Crawford photos courtesy of Hotel | The Maven photos by Andrew Bordwin Photography for The Maven Hotel