Best Save by a Hotel Project 2019 | Hilton Garden Inn Denver Union Station | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Courtesy Jonathan Nathan Strohe
A rendering of Hilton Garden Inn Union Station.

The Hilton Garden Inn Denver Union Station won't open until April, but the project has already made an award-winning save. Built in 1882 for Denver's all-volunteer fire department, Denver Hose Company No. 1 served a bustling immigrant neighborhood known as the Bottoms. It later became a print shop, then a welding shop, but by the early '90s it was empty and crumbling, and it looked like this last reminder of the area's past would disappear. The developers of the twelve-story hotel managed to save it, though, and the restored structure will reopen as a restaurant named after Woodie Fisher, a Denver fireman who lost his life in an early conflagration.

Jacqueline Collins

Welcome to the big house on the prairie. The Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center popped up seemingly overnight, though it took almost a decade from when the massive project was first proposed to its opening in December 2018. The complex boasts a giant seventeen-room spa, numerous restaurants and over 1,500 rooms. But, really, the only room that matters is the Grand Lodge, which looks like it was transplanted from a ski area (rocks, trees and all) and has a 75-foot-tall atrium window offering an incredible view of the Denver skyline framed by the Rocky Mountains, from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak.

Kenneth Hamblin III

Admit it: You've been dying to book a staycation at the Crawford Hotel in Union Station, but there's that pesky pet to consider. For a $50-a-night pet fee, you can bring your pooch (under sixty pounds, please) to the Crawford, where four-legged guests are supplied with dog beds and dog treats...enough to keep them occupied while you sneak out to enjoy the restaurants in Union Station or walk around the incredibly changed neighborhood. And if you're worried how your pet is doing, the Crawford has Furbo dog cameras, which let you check on your pet, talk to it and even toss out a treat or two, all while you're out on the town.

Apartment buildings aren't always pet-friendly, much less pet-owner-friendly, and you'll need to sniff around to find just the right spot for you and your best friend. In central Denver, you can't do better than Archer Tower. The property has a huge fenced-off outdoor area where dogs can meet, greet and run themselves ragged. The building also has a common-area penthouse with flat-screen TVs, comfy couches and pool tables. Head up there on a Saturday night and you'll find friendly residents gathered with their beers and bow-wows. Just be ready for a smooch from a pooch.

When you're expecting, you have plenty to think about...but have you considered your pet? Family Pupz has. This LoHi business offers puppy preschool, puppy training and adult dog training, but its real specialty is preparing the entire family — particularly pets — for a blessed event. Its Doggy Doula service offers three trimesters of support, including creating a dog-training plan in the first trimester to modify any unwanted behaviors (the pet's, not yours), preparing your dog for a newborn by practicing with a doll and baby equipment (second trimester), planning for your dog's care while you're acquiring a newborn, and then creating "a positive association between the baby and the dog." Oh, baby!


Do you struggle to keep a houseplant alive? Is a living thing that needs more room to roam than a clay pot out of the question? The Room of Lost Things, a store that specializes in both the weird and obscure, has adoptable options that are impossible to kill. An iridescent horse fetus in the shop's window will set you back a mere four grand, but for those on a more bare-bones budget, the shop stocks preserved pets ranging from reptiles to baby chicks and hedgehogs. Any one of them is guaranteed to provide quiet companionship; also on the plus side, they require no particular care and come pre-trained: "Stay, Spot. Play dead."

It's Christmas in July...and January, and any other month of the year...when you check into the Christmas Casino & Inn at Bronco Billy's. The former Imperial Hotel in Cripple Creek has been repackaged into the only Christmas-themed casino in the Western United States (but, really, isn't one enough?). The casino boasts twelve guest rooms with their own "Christmas character," as well as 150 slot machines set in a winter wonderland complete with an "ornament bar." If you love Christmas, you'll hit the jackpot here.

Over the past three decades, the Cherry Creek Shopping Center has made itself a must-visit brick-and-mortar destination for Colorado shopaholics, and its well-curated, in-mall entertainment is part of the appeal. From concert pianists performing on gorgeous Steinways on quiet afternoons to the Beverly Belles singing holiday carols Andrews Sisters-style, the halls are alive with the sound of music. String quartet Spinphony has performed on risers in the equivalent of the center's town square, and modern-day ratpackers On the Rocks have offered their a cappella tunes to weekend crowds. While malls may seem like an endangered species, the Cherry Creek Shopping Center has managed to buck that trend and support musicians at the same time.

It's now commonplace for malls to include play areas, where exhausted or exasperated parents can turn their progeny loose for a few minutes. But most of these kid-friendly zones are inside, fairly modest in size and encourage scrambling on vinyl-covered doodads that are supposed to be hygienic but don't look that way. Denver Premium Outlets, in contrast, has created an enormous outdoor space covered with artificial turf and loaded with a slew of different diversions — elaborate climbing structures with clubhouse-like platforms, crazy slides, interactive contraptions and more. It's certainly more enjoyable in warm weather than cold, but when the sun is shining and your little ones desperately need to burn off some energy, this attraction offers plenty of fun, with no purchase necessary.

Mark Antonation

When the next bomb cyclone is predicted, forget hiding out at home: Head out (early) to the Yard. The original structure of this former sawmill on Santa Fe Drive is largely intact, but it's been repurposed to house a distillery, a barbecue restaurant, a coffee roaster and shop, a gym, a board-game bar and a brewery — essentially everything you need to survive a snow day or combat a bad case of cabin fever. The only thing missing is a place to take a nap, but with 5,000 square feet of space left to fill, that could be added to the lineup soon enough.

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