The cultural and social hub of the Rockies, gay-friendly Denver has gradually evolved in the past two decades from merely a key business destination to a favorite spot for both leisure and corporate travelers. Simultaneously, the city's hotel scene has changed markedly. You'll now find a nice mix of hip boutique hotels, historic city inns and B&Bs, and upscale chain properties enthusiastically welcoming the many gay and lesbian visitors to Colorado's largest city.
Tops with gay visitors is the swank Hotel Monaco Denver (1717 Champa St., 800-990-1303), part of the famously GLBT-welcoming Kimpton Hotel group. The Kimpton comprises a pair of historic side-by-side buildings in the heart of downtown, an easy walk from the shops and restaurants of LoDo in one direction, and the museums and attractions of Civic Center Park in the other. There's a cool restaurant here (Panzano, serving top-notch contemporary Italian fare), and rooms are done in bold, stylish hues.
Also very popular with the gay community, the whimsical Curtis Hotel–a Doubletree Hilton (1405 Curtis St., 800-525-6651) is both quirky and campy, its rooms themed with pop-culture kitsch in mind (the 14th floor is a tribute to "TV Mania," while the fifth floor is a nod to "One Hit Wonders"). Rates are reasonable, amenities are many (iPod docking stations, flat-screen TVs), and the staff is fun, friendly, and efficient.
In historic LoDo, one of the most atmospheric and historic hotels in the city, the dapper Oxford Hotel (1600 17th St., 800-228-5838) shines brightly with its beautifully updated, Victorian- and Art Deco-inspired rooms with gorgeous old-fashioned tile bathrooms and claw-foot tubs. Tall windows afford great views over this historic neighborhood that abounds with great shopping and restaurants, and amenities include a gym and full-service spa, dining at the popular McCormick Fish House and Bar, and cocktails in the fabulous, ocean-liner-influenced Cruise Room, whose red glow and fab Art Deco furnishings are based on a lounge on the famed Queen Mary.
In the same neighborhood, the swanky Crawford Hotel (1701 Wynkoop St., 720-460-3700) opened inside the gorgeously restored Union Station in 2014. Situated above (and with some rooms overlooking) the dramatic interior station area of this 1894 building, which is still served by Amtrak, the hotel contains 112 rooms and suites, including dramatic loft rooms in the station's former attic space - these have high ceilings and exposed timber. Pullman rooms, designed as a bit of an Art Deco homage to the classic sleeping rail cars of the same name, are another guest favorite.
All rooms have fabulous bathrooms with claw-foot tubs and "rain" showers. There are numerous restaurants and bars at Union Station, so guests have some amazing dining options to choose from, including the swanky Cooper Bar, which is set on the mezzanine overlooking Union Station's "Great Hall" and is known for raw-bar seafood and fine cocktails. But don't overlook Stoic & Genuine, an outstanding, upscale seafood restaurant, or the beloved Milkbox Ice Creamery. This hotel is really a foodie's favorite.
The Crawford is the sister property of the Oxford Hotel, across the street, and guests are free to use the lovely spa there.
A few blocks down 17th Street from Union Station, the 221-room Renaissance Denver Downtown Hotel (918 17th St., 303-867-8100) is another of the city's newer showpieces. The property occupies the neoclassical, nine-story 1915 former Colorado Bank Building, and its rooms are provide an artful sense of the old and the new, with tall windows, modern art prints, luxury robes, fine bath amenities, well-designed work desks, and mini-refrigerators. There's a good-size gym on the lower level, and Range Restaurant, just off the scene-y and dramatically designed lobby, is a great spot for any meal of the day - it serves well-crafted regional American fare with international influences, including wood-oven pizzas, venison empanadas, grilled trout with tomato chutney and pancetta crisps, and am impressive selection of artisan cocktails and Colorado craft beers.
If you're a big fan of shopping, consider staying a short drive (or cab ride) from downtown, out by the fancy shops and hot restaurants around Cherry Creek. Here you'll find one of Denver's true gems, the gay-friendly JW Marriott Denver at Cherry Creek (150 Clayton La., 303-316-2700), a refined yet unstuffy mid-rise hotel adjacent to the retail buzz of Cherry Creek Shopping Center (Nordstrom, Saks, Neiman Marcus, etc.), and Cherry Creek North (Betsey Johnson, Whole Foods, Crate and Barrell, etc.).
Service here is top-notch, and spacious, modern rooms have all sorts of creature comforts, from CD-DVD players to elegant marble baths.
You'll find a number of other first-rate properties downtown. The posh Ritz-Carlton (1881 Curtis St., 303-312-3800) is a 202-room stunner overlooking downtown's pedestrianized 16th Street Mall, bringing the Ritz' signature service and clubby decor to the Mile High City. And the prestigious Four Seasons Denver is an ultra-posh, 45-story high-rise that includes both a hotel and residences. Here you'll find the superb EDGE Restaurant, a fabulous full-service spa, and 239 roomy, contemporary accommodations.
Among smaller properties, the gay-owned Capitol Hill Mansion (1207 Pennsylvania St., 800-839-9329) ranks among the state's most romantic urban getaways. This towering Queen Anne mansion, clad in red sandstone and crowned with a distinctive turret, dates to 1891 and anchors the grand Capitol Hill neighborhood. There are eight lavishly appointed rooms, some with Jacuzzi tubs and working fireplaces, and others with balconies affording fine views of the neighborhood and, in the distance, the Rockies.
It's an easy walk to several gay bars, handsome Cheesman Park, and a nice range of cool cafes and restaurants.
Another gay-friendly B&Bn that bears mentioning is the ornate Castle Marne (1572 Race St., 800-926-2763), a regal 1880s beauty known for its lavish breakfasts and elaborate architectural details.