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The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa in Denver

Walking into this late-19th Century building can initially be overwhelming. The meticulous care in the architecture is abundantly evident, the staff ready to take care of your every wish. Typically I would classify such treatment as “too much” for me, but I suppose it never hurts to indulge a bit.

Denver's Brown Palace Hotel and SpaThe word “palace” is an accurate descriptor for The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa. With the adjoining tavern, perfectly laid out lobby and in-house restaurant, it’s easy to see how they came up with the name. Walking around the various floors, you’ll quickly realize the layout marches to its own drum. If my incredibly basic understanding of architecture serves me right, complicated layouts were created as a sign of wealth. That is, rich people can afford to pay for unique designs. The Brown Palace is no exception.
After quasi-checking in (we arrived too early for a room), the gentleman at the front desk pointed us around the corner to The Delectable Egg for breakfast. Though tempting to order every dish with spicy chorizo sausage, I opted for the “Smart Breakfast” featuring wheat french toast dipped in egg whites with bananas. Filling and delicious, though I was mostly focused on pumping as much caffeine into my body as possible, as I was already experiencing a fairly annoying withdrawal headache.

By the time breakfast was over, our room had already been prepared – much sooner than I had anticipated. On our return, we were granted a room that we soon discovered was a single bed. We’re friends, but not that close. The staff was quick to find us a room with two separate beds, allowing ample room for us to spread out and not be cheek-to-cheek in any sense of the phrase.

The rooms themselves are impressive with bed furniture fit for the Victorian vibe. The bathroom, too, comes with plenty of room to do all that one needs to do in a bathroom, but with a touch of class I’m admittedly unaccustomed to. I’m no pauper, but hardly a prince.

My only complaint is typical of the hotel industry when you get into the $200-plus per night range. Internet is not free. I’m one who believes that when you’re paying upwards of $200 per night, internet damn well better be free. Besides, if chains charging under $100 per night can afford to offer free internet, so can a Victorian palace. Though I suppose the cost of internet forces frugal folks – such as myself – out into the streets of the city to find a local coffee shop, which is what you should do anyway. So if the higher-end of the hotel industry charges internet as some sort of trick to get folks out into the city, then bravo! I applaud your altruistic efforts.

The real surprise awaits in the shower. (Perhaps not my greatest segue, but bear with me…). More astute travelers might notice immediately upon arrival. But if you’re as oblivious to the obvious as I am following a 6 a.m. flight, then you probably walked right by it several times. Either way, prepare to enjoy the heavenly treat that is the waterfall shower.

That’s right, two showerheads pelting you at every angle imaginable with fantastically hot water (I know how it sounds) until your skin turns red. It feels so incredible, you let the steam nearly suffocate you before relenting and sticking your head out of the shower for a quick breath of fresh air before returning to the most glorious of hygienic experiences known to mankind. This is the type of luxury I can get used to. Even the soap looks like a delicious white chocolate typically reserved for black tie events! (Note that it is still soap and unadvisable to consume).

Outside your room, The Brown Palace has more than its fair share of calming ambience. Music from a grand piano echoes throughout the hotel. Close your eyes, and it’s like you’re having a drink with Humphrey Bogart. “Play it again, Sam,” indeed.

It’s difficult not to recommend this joint to Denver-bound travelers, so long as you can afford it. This is admittedly a sizable caveat. But at least it’s accessible by public transit (though the city in general needs to work on its airport connectivity), and surrounded by plenty of restaurants and bars to keep you entertained for the duration of your stay.

Photos by Rob Andrukat

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