Monday, August 22, 2011

Denver Diversity Starts At Hotel Teatro

Hotel TeatroDriving around, it is almost hard to believe that Denver was virtually unsettled until the late 1850s. Even then, its true boom didn't start until 1870. In the 20 years that followed, it became the fifth-largest city west of the Mississippi in two decades.

Today, Denver (along with Aurora and Broomfield) is the seventh-largest metropolitan area in the West, retaining its post-gold rush population with a diversified economy. It's diverse in other ways too.

There is an authentic enthusiasm for arts, culture, and history. And the only way to appreciate it all the more is to pick a location in the heart of it.

Hotel Teatro captures the historic and artful charm of Denver.

Although most of Denver's frontier-era buildings were torn down in favor of progress, some have survived from the early 1900s. Hotel Teatro is one of them, restored to a modern classic by Astonbridge Partners and David Owen Tryba Architects in 1997 and remodeled again in 2008.

Originally, Hotel Teatro served as the Denver Tramway Building between 1911 and 1946 and as the nucleus for the University of Colorado at Denver until 1991. Upon completion 100 years ago, it was considered an architectural gem, combining Chicago-style office space and a traditional Renaissance Revival edifice.

Kevin TaylorSome of the finest details from its early years still remain. For example, Tennessee light pink marble flooring, Vermont green marble base, and white Arizona marble wainscoting still adorn the lobby. Located throughout the building, you can also find polished brass letter boxes and retired safe doors, paying homage to its history.

With 110 rooms, Hotel Teatro is truly boutique, with most rooms above the fifth floor offering views of the Rocky Mountains on one side and downtown Denver on the other. (Some may be obstructed by the towering Four Seasons across the street.) It's these views that put downtown Denver in perspective.

Most attractions are within a one-mile radius of the hotel and others are under five. It's perfect, especially because the hotel offers complimentary transportation service for short distances, eliminating almost any need to drive (unless you want to).

Denver has one of the most pedestrian friendly downtowns in the country.

Within one mile, hotel guests can easily walk to the Denver Performing Arts Complex (across the street), Denver Art Museum, U.S. Mint, Larimer Square, LoDo District, and 16th Street Mall (the one-and-a-half mile outdoor pedestrian mall with free buses that run up and down the street, stopping at every block). The Pepsi Center is also reasonably close, as is Elitch Gardens Theme Park. Coors Field is slightly further.

Larimer SqaureOf the three shopping districts, LoDo has more clubs, nightlife, and private art galleries. The 16th Street Mall has fine eateries and street performers, but is largely overcrowded with lower end chains. And Larimer Square, the smaller but finer area, features more unique and upscale boutiques as well as some of the better eateries, from Ted's Montana Grill to The Capital Grille.

Hotel Teatro has two restaurants too. Its Restaurant Kevin Taylor serves dinner with a French, Asian and American Southwest fusion. The other restaurant, Prima Ristorante, serves all meals and provides 14-hour room service. After eating breakfast at Prima once, you'll find the better bet to be the more historic and divey Sam's No. 3 Diner, the best place for breakfast in Denver (about one block away). It's a revived version of a family-owned Coney Island-style restaurant first opened there in the 1920s.

Slightly farther out from the hotel, City Park is home to the Denver Zoo and Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The museum includes visiting and permanent exhibits, interactive discovery centers, planetarum, and IMAX theater. And like the Denver Art Museum, you can invest an entire day there. But all of this only scratches the surface.

Hotel Teatro roomWith such a condensed downtown, expect several days of walking. It's on every return trip you'll find that Hotel Teatro really does make a difference. While we gave up the view, the 550-square-foot junior suite upgrade was worth it, trading in two queen-sized Simmons beds for two partitioned rooms, one with a king and bed-quality sleeper sofa. Both had bathrooms.

I'm sure the queens would have been just as comfortable. All beds are triple sheeted with 600-thread count Frette sheets. Especially relaxing are the bathrooms. Adorned with warm sandstone floors and marble, the deep soaking tub and floor-to ceiling rainforest shower will immediately take off the edge. Turndown service is available on request; all rooms have complimentary WiFi.

Hotel Teatro Plays Perfectly At 9.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Hotel Teatro is luxuriously comfortable without any presumption or stuffiness. The hotel staff are very knowledgeable about the hotel and the area (even warning guests not to take cameras to the U.S. Mint). Everyone is very friendly and accommodating, taking time to get to know their guests. Some people might be happy to know they are pet friendly too.

Like all hotels, rates change frequently. Here, standard rooms are around $250 and $275 per night. In a downtown area like Denver (or any major city), also plan to pay parking changes ($26 per night). For hotels and flights to Los Angeles, try Fare Buzz with flights up to 60 percent off.

As a bonus, ask the staff about the rumors of a ghost or two. While I had no experiences, construction crews are said to have heard voices in empty rooms and some guests say they've seen the ghost of a mechanic walking the halls.
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