There are still some “Grand Dame” hotels left in the United States. It’s a dream of mine to get to all of them. We’ve got a long way to go. Join us for a visit to some historic Colorado hotels we’ve enjoyed. These historic Colorado hotels are listed in alphabetical order.)
A tour of Historic Colorado Hotels
The fabulously quirky Armstrong Hotel
For the most part, Fort Collins is a city of chain hotels and motels. If you want something different, head for the Armstrong Hotel built in 1923.This renovated property offers discerning (and adventurous) travelers rooms and suites that are both unique and quirky. The hotel’s convenient Old Town location is walking distance to shops, restaurants and some of the city’s microbreweries. Others are within biking distance. No two rooms are alike. Guests can opt for either Vintage or Modern. The Vintage rooms and suites are furnished with antiques or reproductions when originals weren’t available. The modern rooms have a retro Deco feel to them. If cookie-cutter is your style, this isn’t the place for you. You have to love character because the Armstrong is loaded with it from the small lobby, to the building’s original elevator. Hallway walls hung with vintage repro photos — take the time to check them out. If you’re looking for something historic and different, check out the Armstrong.
The Broadmoor- the grand dame of historic resorts
The Broadmoor, in Colorado Springs, sits at the base of Cheyenne Mountain. The grande dame of historic Colorado hotels, with its superb Rocky Mountain views and Five Star, Five Diamond service and attention to detail, is the perfect place for a getaway. The original hotel was built in 1888. In 1916, it was acquired by Spencer Penrose and his wife Julie. They wanted to introduce European-style service and luxury to the American West. That tradition continues to this day at this vast resort with over 700 rooms, suites and cottages. There are three championship golf courses, tennis courts, a man-made lake, colossal-sized pool and a world-class spa. With eight restaurants (including the Five-Star/Five Diamond Penrose Room and Four Star/Four Diamond Charles Court) five bars, five cafes and a selection of upscale shops you never have to leave the grounds. During the summer and over major holidays, the Bee Bunch Camp for kids makes it the perfect place for the entire family. Even when camp isn’t in session, there’s plenty for the kids to do including a visit to the nearby Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
Even the Beatles stayed at The Brown Palace
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa couples Four Star/Four Diamond luxury with a trip into the past. Located at the edge of downtown Denver, the hotel, opened in 1892, is THE place to stay in the Mile High City. It has been the choice of presidents, statesmen, royalty and even the Beatles. The soaring atrium/lobby greets you as you check in. Look up! While most of the hotel ‘’s ambiance is distinctly Victorian in feeling, the Top of the Brown, the name given to the two highest floors, has an Art Deco flavor. The hotel’s ballroom was turned into luxury apartments in 1937. These apartments later became rooms and suites. While at The Brown, have a spot of their famous Afternoon Tea. It’s very elegant and reminiscent of a bygone era. The hotel tour, offered every Wednesday and Saturday at 3pm, explores the building and its rich history. Availability permitting, you’ll visit some of the celebrity-named suites, including the one the Beatles stayed in. The Brown Palace’s History is rich and engrossing. Hotel guests can tour for free; there’s a charge for non-guests. Reservations are required as space is limited.
The Cliff House a tradition in historic Manitou Springs
The Cliff House at Pike’s Peak sits on a quiet side street in Manitou Springs, minutes from Colorado Springs. The Four Diamond hotel, built in 1873, is a great place to use as your base for exploring this town famous for its healing waters and gateway to Pike’s Peak. Many famous people including Clark Gable, Buffalo Bill, P.T. Barnum; Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt and Ferdinand, Crown Prince of Austria, stayed here. Many of these famous guests are remembered by the Celebrity and Premier Celebrity Suites named for them. The hotel was brought to fame by New York restaurateur Edward E. Nichols in 1886. Under his stewardship, it became a dining destination. The refurbished hotel, reopened in 1999 after it fell on hard times and disrepair for years, is once again a dining destination. The Four Diamond Cliff House Dining Room prides itself on its locally inspired food, its extenisve wine list and the staff’s knowledge of their cellar.
The Mining Exchange – a boutique urban hostelry with history
The Mining Exchange, in downtown Colorado Springs calls a repurposed 1902 building home. This grand stone structure started life as the Colorado Springs Mining Exchange, a company that promoted regional mining operations and their stock. It the 1920s, it became the Colorado Springs Mining Stock Exchange. The building housed offices until it was purchased to be refurbished as a hotel. Luckily, over the years, a lot of the original details remained intact including the HUGE “gold” Diebold safe in the lobby dating from the turn of the 19th century in the lobby as well as smaller antique safes on each floor. They were preserved in the renovations and used for storage and wonderful decorative details such as those found in the stairwells. Rooms are not cookie-cutter and offer a mix of old and new with an interesting variety of shapes and sizes and unique architectural details. The marble bathrooms with walk-in showers (some with soaking tubs) offer 21st century luxury.
The Stanley, the hotel that inspired The Shining
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park Colorado, built by FO Stanley, the inventor of the Stanley Steamer auto, opened in 1909. This hotel, at one of the gateways to Rocky Mountain National Park, was made famous by its hauntings. It inspired Stephen King’s famous novel The Shining, which was filmed there. Today, it’s become quite the tourist destination. If you want to the lowdown on the resident spirits, the hotel offers a selection of tours, including the Ghost and History Tour. The schedule varies seasonally. Maybe you’ll be lucky and meet one of the resident spitits. Even if they don’t manifest, your never know, they may be watching. If ghosts don’t interest you, consider the great Rocky Mountain views the hotel offers. In warmer weather, sit on their wide front veranda and take in the majestic views. Other times of the year, enjoy the view of the snow-capped peaks from the warmth of their Victorian lobby.
Do you have any favorite historic Colorado hotels or historic hotels elsewhere in the United States you want to share? We’d love to hear about them.
Authors note: We were hosted by the hotels mentioned above. Their generosity did not influence this post in any way. All opinions are our own.