Passing through the gates of The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, and entering the burgeoning atrium lobby immerses visitors in the heart of Denver’s late 19th-century history. Opened in 1892 at a cost of construction and furnishings of $ 2 million, the Brown Palace remains the oldest operating hotel in downtown Denver.
In mid-September, my husband Ron and I had the privilege of spending the night at Brown, savoring incredible dining experiences and soaking up the ambiance and history of this nearly 130-year-old wonder. . It is surely a unique destination where you will be treated like royalty!
The first thing visitors notice about the Brown is its unique triangular shape that allowed it to be built on land at the intersection of two differently aligned street gates in what is now the heart of Denver. Henry Cordes Brown donated 10 acres of his farmland, with the goal of developing the hamlet of Denver into a progressive city. He also donated the land on which the State Capitol building, as well as for its namesake, the Brown Palace.
Our luxury overnight accommodations were located on the ninth floor, which is part of the recent multi-million dollar renovation of the Top Of the Brown Suites. The 1930s Art Deco style is fully adopted in these modernized spaces. As we entered the bedrooms, a calming aura greeted us with soft and restful shades of cream and gray-blue, lush draperies, and a sleek, sophisticated vibe that invited us to just live the experience.
Ron and I had a fascinating and informative tour of the hotel by Resort Sales & Marketing Manager Justin Budyak and Sales & Marketing Coordinator Iris Berger. The original golden onyx, mined and transported from Mexico, adorns the walls of the Italian Renaissance-style lobby. Natural light flows through the stained glass skylight suspended between the eighth and ninth floors.
Prior to the construction of the Brown, a 750-foot artesian well was dug and continues to be the hotel’s water source to this day. In 1892, the Brown was the only hotel in Denver to have running water and flush toilets. It was also one of the first steel and stone structures in Denver, which made it fire retardant. The city’s growing elite as well as visitors from out of town have come to stay at this most modern place to dine, soak up and rest their heads. Of course, renovations, reconfigurations, and upgrades have continued over the years to secure The Brown’s Forbes Four Star and AAA Four Diamond status.
When The Brown was built, it overlooked two historical monuments that predate it and are still in sight. The Gothic Revival Trinity United Methodist Church, completed in 1888, has a unique stone steeple. Across Rue Tremont is a building built in 1880 as a girls’ boarding school. In the early 1900s it was renamed La Navarre and operated as a brothel. Throughout history, tunnels linked La Navarre and La Brune, allowing clients of the “sports center” to travel discreetly between the buildings. Are the tunnels still there? Maybe, but they’re probably stuck.
The Brown Hotel transcends its place as a historic place. The recently unveiled renovations combine the hotel’s historic heritage with modern amenities and traditional, elegant decor. It features elegant meeting spaces, lively bars and restaurants, an award-winning spa and inviting lounges to unwind after a day of shopping and sightseeing. The spa is located next to the lobby and integrates well-being through a wide variety of treatments: massages being # 1.
Of course, any hotel of The Brown’s caliber has celebrity stories. All but four of the presidents of the United States have stayed there since it opened. President Dwight D. Eisenhower campaigned at Brown in 1952. The Beatles were guests in 1964, when they gave a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. The young women clamored for a job at Brown hoping for the chance to see the fabulous quartet. Suites dedicated to famous guests and decorated with memorabilia honoring Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and the Beatles.
No visit to the Brown Palace Hotel is complete without the opportunity to dine, snack and soak up. Ron and I were treated to a gourmet dinner at the elegant Palace Arms. The recently renovated restaurant is decorated with military antiques from the Napoleonic era, murals and comfortable seating. Attentive waiters described the delicious menu in great detail, making it almost impossible to decide what to order. We ended up opting for some individually made and bottled house cocktails, caviar eggs, Chilean sea bass for me and a hand-cut steak for Ron, and banana mousse for dessert. It was truly a memorable feast, served in an atmosphere worthy of the aura and ambience of a grand hotel.
Afternoon tea, served in the Brown’s lobby, is a daily must-see event! Of course, we participated in this delightful occasion. Soft piano music played as guests drifted through the open space bathed in light. Muffled voices and the clanging of porcelain cutlery and cups gently placed on porcelain saucers create a background hum. Customers choose from a wide variety of aromatic teas. Next is a three-tiered extravaganza of scones served with Devonshire cream and lemon curd, tiny tasty sandwiches, and a selection of pastries that almost made us pass out. Pinkies out, we sipped our tea and feasted on treats until we couldn’t eat any more.
A night at the Brown allowed us to explore downtown Denver and the 16th Street Mall. We shopped in historic Larimar Square, took the free bus to Union Station, and strolled through the green spaces surrounding the South Platte River. We also made a stop at the Denver Flagship REI located in the restored 1901 Streetcar building, and an all-too-brief tour of the Anschutz Collection at the American Museum of Western Art, located in the Navarre building across from the hotel, was completed our whirlwind visit to Denver.
Anytime is a good time to visit the Brown Palace Hotel, especially when you feel the need to be treated like royalty. With the holidays just around the corner, for a birthday or anniversary celebration, or just because you deserve it, this is the perfect place for a brief getaway to a world of pampering, pom pom and sharing.
Libby Kinder is a retired freelance writer and clinical mental health advisor. She and her husband have lived in southwest Colorado Springs for 16 years. Contact Libby with comments and travel ideas at [email protected].