The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa321 17th Street
A visit to Denver isn't complete without at least stopping inside the stunning lobby of the Brown Palace to ogle the stained glass, burnished wood and old-world decor. And once you're there, stay for drinks and prime rib sandwiches at the Ship Tavern, which opened in 1934 with its seafaring theme. Or, for a true taste of the Gilded Age, book dinner at the Palace Arms. A recent change in hotel ownership has resulted in a new focus on the menu, modernizing the cuisine while preserving the stellar service and posh surroundings. The dinner tab won't be cheap, but maybe you can get your rich aunt and uncle to pick up the bill.
The Crawford Hotel1701 Wynkoop Street
A stay at the Crawford comes complete with the entirety of Union Station as your playground — and dining hall. Lunch and snack options abound, but make sure you stay for dinner at some of Denver's most exciting eateries: Mercantile Dining & Provision (which just earned chef/owner Alex Seidel the James Beard Best Chef: Southwest award), and Stoic & Genuine and Ultreia, two unique establishments (serving seafood and Spanish, respectively) from chef Jennifer Jasinski, another James Beard winner. Hang out at the lively Terminal Bar for drinks, or head upstairs to the more sedate and serious Cooper Lounge. And a Denver layover should always include pancakes at Snooze.
Halcyon Hotel Cherry Creek245 Columbine Street
Cherry Creek has been loading up with boutique hotels of late, and the Halcyon is one of the best for food and drink. Go pan-Asian with celebrity chef Gregory Gourdet's Departure, or experience a fun and quirky take on tradition with New York City transplant Quality Italian. There's also a rooftop bar and pool for summer visitors and a hidden speakeasy in the bowels of the hotel called B & GC for a sultry night of lounging.
Hotel Indigo1801 Wewatta Street
The Indigo is located behind Union Station in one of Denver's hot new instant neighborhoods. The draw here is Hearth & Dram, which combines wood-fired cooking perfect for meat lovers with a towering bar stocked with one of the best selections of whiskey in the city. Lunchtime is an eye-opener, with a variety of international sandwiches, or book ahead for a whole-beast feast for a special occasion.
Hotel Monaco1717 Champa Street
The Hotel Monaco just celebrated its twentieth birthday, and Panzano has been dishing housemade pastas and fresh-baked bread for that two-decade run. Once a brash upstart amid stodgy downtown hotels, the Monaco now feels lived-in and cozy. And Chef Nic Lebas is ushering in a new era of dining at the restaurant, continuing the Italian tradition while dotting the menu with modern sensibilities.