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The Little Nell, Colorado
Shawn O'Connor

The 14 best hotels in Colorado

From the desert to the mountains, make the most of a truly diverse state with the 14 best hotels in Colorado

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Rebecca Treon
&
Chiara Wilkinson
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Colorado is the 8th largest state in the United States, boasting a geography and cultures as diverse as its 104,093 square miles. From the desert southwest with Mesa Verde’s ancient cliff dwellings to ski resorts in the snow-covered Rockies, there’s no shortage of places to explore. We’ve checked into the state’s finest lodgings, from historic inns to modern boutique hotels, focusing on those that offer luxury, service, hospitality, and amenities that make the spaces uniquely Colorado and not a boxy cookie-cutter.

Mountain destinations like Vail and Aspen, which offer luxurious accommodations whether you’re visiting during ski season or enjoying the bountiful summer activities of the region, like biking, hiking, horseback riding, and white-water rafting, are in the mix, as are a small clutch of resorts that are a destination all their own. Many options are the perfect place to hang your hat on a road trip of the American West – with glorious spas and surroundings to rest your feet while you recharge.

And of course, we couldn’t round-up the state’s best hotels without including Denver, Colorado’s capital city. A mile above sea level, this booming urban oasis is welcoming record numbers of new residents and visitors alike, eager to explore the Mile High City’s abundant offerings – from culinary hotspots to nightlife, sporting events, and cultural attractions. The hardest thing you have to do now is just decide which one to go to first. 

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The 14 best hotels in Colorado

Colorado Springs (roughly an hour drive from Denver) is home to The Broadmoor – a historic resort and Colorado icon, centered around the luxe pool area overlooking Cheyenne Lake. The five-star resort boasts golf, tennis, bowling, a spa, and world class dining options (including a wild-west singalong saloon). The resort recently opened a set of luxury cabins for a ranch-style experience, along with a wealth of outdoor activities that take in everything from fly fishing and rock climbing to ziplining and falconry. There's also top quality shopping and The Broadmoor traditional gallery, with its collection of nationally and internationally renowned artworks – so there really is something for all tastes. 

Cherry Creek’s most recent arrival is in the former post office (but you’d never know it). Flanked by hip restaurants Quality Italian (order the Chicken Parmesan) and Departure (by Gregory Gourdet of Top Chef fame), the four-star luxury hotel offers stunning mountain views from the rooftop pool, and once the sun sets, you can head down to the basement speakeasy for a bespoke cocktail at Boys & Girls Club. Then repair to your modern and elegant room (one of 154) to spin some vintage vinyl on your very own turntable. Another highlight is the happy hour at neighbourhood eatery Local Jones, where you can grab cheap bites and Aperol Spritz for just $7. 

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As Denver’s first hotel, the four-star Brown Palace has hosted celebrities galore, from Thomas Edison to Taylor Swift via the Beatles and even, in 1997, a whole G8 Summit hosted by President Bill Clinton. And it’s still a cultural icon, with a spa (the entry used to be the grand fireplace), Ellyngton’s (serving the most lavish brunch in the city), the Palace Arms (yes, those are Napoleon’s dueling pistols on display), and Ship Tavern (live music on the weekends) all offering plenty of reasons to stay – elegant high tea in the lobby is another. And when you’ve exhausted the attractions on offer indoors and feel the need to venture beyond the historic, yet Insta-worthy decor of your comfortable room, local attractions are very close by. Check out the American Museum of Western Art, various quality bars and restaurants, and the many, many shopping options. You'll be spoilt for choice.  

RiNo (River North Arts District) was once gritty and industrial but has blossomed into an artsy community of breweries, restaurants, and boutiques. The Ramble is RiNo’s newest addition, with 50 rooms inspired by 17th-century French salons – think dark walls, lush seating areas, and chandeliers reminiscent of Versailles. It boasts the first western outpost of iconic cocktail lounge Death & Co as well as Super Mega Bien, a pan-Latin dim sum concept from James Beard Foundation Award nominee Dana Rodriguez. Stroll outside to check out the neighborhood’s funky murals. 

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This four-star ski-in ski-out lodge is synonymous with luxury, from high-thread count sheets to breathtaking views. If you're there for the slops, the plentiful snowfall and incredible terrain makes it a no-brainer destination. But even if you're not, you can still enjoy s’mores and live music by the fire pit or play board games by a roaring fire while snuggling with Scout, the hotel’s Bernese Mountain Dog. The seven bachelor miners that settled here would be surprised at the rustic elegance of the spa, fine dining options, and cigar bar, but if you want an unforgettable getaway no matter the season, this is the place. Nearby Beano’s Cabin is a fine dinner spot, and beguilingly accessible only by horse-drawn carriage. 

A true landmark in Aspen, ‘The Nell’ is a five-star ski-in, ski-out lodge at the base of the Silver Queen Gondola. The stomping grounds of Aspen’s elite, no place is better to get out of the spotlight in a discreet and hospitable setting. All 78-plus rooms have a miner-meets-Modernist design (no, really) with every imaginable amenity, and beyond your room, in-house award-winning restaurant Element 47 has the best wine cellar in town. The hotel’s Ajax Tavern at the base of the mountain is the place to apres. 

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Vail is the country’s most popular ski resort, so naturally it’s home to one of its most luxurious five-star hotels. The Sebastian’s pet-friendly suites offer sitting areas for relaxing and en suite baths with jetted tubs, but it’s the common areas that elevate the hotel beyond the already very high-standard competition. Enjoy morning coffee in the Library, spend the day poolside or apres ski in a hot tub. You can also take in the hotel’s unique art collection, check out games from the game room, enjoy the spa and fitness room, or just people watch at one of the hotel’s chic eateries, all steps from Vail Village’s pedestrian walkway. The surroundings themselves are stunning, with glorious mountain views and snowy peaks. 

In the heart of Vail Village is the historic Sonnenalp—a five-star classic known for its spa, which includes an oxygen bar, a joined indoor/outdoor pool space with a riverside view, poolside service, and plenty of relaxing lounge chairs. Each of the 112 rooms has an alpine theme that jives with the Swiss feel of the town, including mounted antlers and private fireplaces, luxurious jetted Roman tubs and plush robes. Bully Ranch, the Sonnenalp’s upscale Western-style eatery, is a well-known Vail burger destination. A quick glance at the menu shows a black angus beef sandwich with caramelized onions, a 15oz dry aged steak, jidori chicken flatbreads, and vegan meatballs. Delish. 

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In the heart of Denver, the four-star Le Meridien brings together business and leisure travelers in a coolly elegant space that begins with the lobby bar’s warming fireplace, and continues through the award-winning restaurant, Corrine, and an installation by local artist Jonathan Saiz made up of 1,000 tiny portraits of Marie Antionette. The hotel also has a fleet of bicycles with which you can explore the city (with vouchers from local purveyors of artisan goods) and a rooftop lounge, 54Thirty, offering unparalleled views of the city skyline and the mountains (and is the place to see and be seen). 

At 11th and Broadway in Denver’s Golden Triangle Museum District, the four-star ART Hotel features more than 50 works by internationally renowned artists such as Edward Ruscha, Sol LeWitt, Frank Gehry, Kiki Smith, Deborah Butterfield, and others. How about that for culture. The 165 rooms are all clean lines and modern elegance, with each floor adopting a theme based on an artwork, so it's super Instagrammable. All of this is just steps away from museums and attractions, but don’t miss happy hour on the rooftop lounge, FIRE, with individual fire pits at each booth—the perfect way to end a day of museum-going. 

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Boulder’s centrally located four-star St Julien is in a great spot for guests keen to both stroll Pearl St for its shopping and world-class eats, and hike the nearby Flatirons. Though they might find it hard to leave; the rooftop lounge has gorgeous mountain views, there’s live music on the terrace, Jill’s, the in-house restaurant, is a local favorite, and the spa is 10,000 square feet of luxury, with a pool and exclusive spa services. Constructed of the town’s signature flagstone bricks, the U-shaped hotel really is a world all its own.

The Ritz is a downtown Denver classic, with 202 rooms offering easy access to everything Denver has to offer. After being greeted by a stunning glass chandelier created by Robert Kuster (and reminiscent of his mentor, Dale Chihuly), relax at Elway’s steakhouse, where you can sip an exclusive from local Laws Whiskey House, as well as numerous local craft brews. Said brews are utilised in a most unusual spa treatment, the Microwbrew Ex’BEER’ience, where beer and its elements are used to treat the skin. The spa is right next door to the fitness centre – 24/7 facilities that offer state-of-the-art treadmills, elliptical machines, and of course, spin bikes. 

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Inspired perhaps by the area’s mountain scenery, Aurora’s newest hotel complex clearly likes to think big. Ten minutes from Denver International Airport, the mega-hotel boasts 1,501 rooms, four ballrooms, 81 meeting spaces, and five outdoor event spaces. Meant to double as a business and convention center, it also includes eight dining options (from Italian to Asian to Steakhouse), a spa salon, a fitness center, and shopping. Best of all perhaps, especially for anyone with kids in town, is the indoor/outdoor water park complete with a lazy river to float down. Fancy exploring the area? Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is only 30 minutes away, displaying iconic aircrafts, space vehicles, and other fascinating artifacts. 

Visiting Durango, a former mining town, is like stepping into the Old West, particularly when staying at The Strater. Owned for three generations by the Barker family, the carved stone and brick 1887-era hotel is a perfectly restored model of the time. History lovers will love room features like hand-stenciled Victorian-style wallpaper and lavishly carved walnut antiques, and other attentions to detail make a stay at the Strater a unique experience for everyone. Don’t miss the Diamond Belle, a real live saloon complete with Western saloon girls and ragtime piano. 

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