Like hotels with character? We do and we love finding interesting ones. The historic Strater Hotel in Durango, Colorado fits this criterion to a T. Opened in 1887, it reflected the Victorian opulence of the times. While over the years it was “modernized,” a gradual renovation, begun in the 1980s and completed in the new millennium updated the hotel while, at the same time restoring its original Victorian elegance.
Location, location, location
The historic Strater Hotel boasts a convenient downtown Durango location that puts you right in the middle of things. Walk to the historic train depot where you can board the Durango and Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad as well as to some of the city’s most popular eateries, bars and shops.
A short history of the Strater Hotel
Seeing potential for a grand hotel, Henry Strater, a Cleveland pharmacist who had relocated to the booming western town, enlisted his family’s help to make his dream a reality. The four-story hotel, built from native red bricks and hand-carved sandstone, became the center of the nascent city’s social life; it was THE place to be. In cold months, some residents closed up their homes and moved to the hotel where every room was heated by its own wood stove. When the silver panic of 1895 occurred Strater couldn’t pay the hotel’s mortgage so it was repossessed by the Bank of Cleveland and resold.
The new owners added the opera house and dinners to attract patrons. Over the years modern conveniences such as gaslights and bathrooms were added. Banker Earl Barker Sr. spearheaded a group who bought the hotel in the 1920s. His family still owns the property. As times changed, so did the décor. The “modernized” Strater Hotel lost its period charm. The return to the hotel’s Victorian roots began in 1983 with the purchase of an antique bed. Today, the original feeling has been returned to the historic Strater Hotel which is filled with antiques and period touches.
The historic Strater Hotel in the 21st century
Entering the historic Strater Hotel you feel as if you’ve traveled back in time to the 1890s and in a way you have. The lobby has been restored to its original splendor; dark woodwork, period furniture, hand-printed Bradbury and Bradbury wallpaper and print carpet return the hotel’s Victorian glory.
Over the years the hotel had been refurnished with more up-to-date pieces reflecting the times. Starting in the 1980s (and culminating in 2000) the hotel and its furnishings were restored to its Victorian grandeur. Today, the lobby and guest rooms are furnished in period antiques and walls (and in some cases, ceilings) are adorned with hand-printed Bradbury and Bradbury wallpapers adapted from Victorian designs. If you ignore the electric lights, the flat screen TV, phone and other modern conveniences in your room, you could be back in the gay 90s. Our room even had a wallpaper border around the ceiling light fixture.
Ghosts at the Strater?
Almost everyone likes a good ghost story. Are there ghosts at the historic Strater Hotel? It depends on who you talk to. The hotel’s official stance is no, but Google “ghosts at the Hotel Strater” and you’ll get a bunch of links to posts reporting ghostly sightings. Our stay at the historic property was ghost-free so we can’t confirm these reportss. We wish we could; we love a good ghost sighting.
Food and drink at the Strater
The historic Strater Hotel has three different dining options. The Mahogany Grille offers three meals a day. The menu was designed to merge “new styles with old west flavors,” with an emphasis on farm-fresh whenever available. The Diamond Belle Saloon offers lunch and dinner daily as well as live entertainment nightly. The Office Spiritorium open daily at 4pm for Happy Hour, offers fine wines, signature martinis, spirits (including absinthe) and beer serves appetizers and small plates. There is live music daily.
If you’re headed to Durango and want an interesting place to stay, head for the historic Strater Hotel where you can bask in the Victorian elegance of the city’s past, surrounded by 21st century conveniences. It’s a great blend of Victorian opulence and modern amenities; the perfect choice for people who appreciate unique lodgings.
Wondering what to do while you’re in Durango? Read our post.
Author’s note: Our stay at the historic Strater Hotel was provided by the management. This generosity didn’t affect this post in any way.