Speaking of accommodations, Denver added more than 3,500 new hotel rooms in 2017 and 2,000 more in 2018. That means lots more choices. Existing hotels have kept their games sharp as well. I stayed at two outstanding properties during my most recent visit, each of which provided a unique ambiance and experience. I indulged in a spacious corner suite at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver (1717 Champa St. Tel: 303-296-1717. www.monaco-denver.com), which recently spent $6 million on a gorgeous transformation of its 189 guest rooms, with a fresh color palette, beautiful décor, and art from local artist Ben Mollner. The hotel’s restaurant, Panzano, remains a great place for upscale and creative Italian cuisine, for locals and visitors alike (I recommend the charred octopus, tangy gnocchi with braised lamb shank and succulent Colorado lamb chops with lamb belly ricotta croquettes). You can work off the calories later while using one of the Kimpton Monaco’s free loaner bikes.
I found myself enveloped in a very different vibe at The Curtis, a DoubleTree by Hilton (1405 Curtis St. Tel: 303-571-0300. www.thecurtis.com), a decidedly imaginative property where every floor is dedicated to a different pop culture theme. It’s guaranteed to be the only hotel in Denver where you can check in to a Big Hair Floor, a Superhero Floor, and a Chick Flick floor, to name a few of the 13 themes.
Denver’s new hotels represent a variety of styles and price points, and include everything from chic independent properties to major international brands. Top new choices include the Kimpton Hotel Born, the Hotel Indigo Denver, the Moxy Denver, Le Meridien Denver, and the Maven Hotel, a loft-style property that’s part of the Dairy Block retail and restaurant development near Union Station.
And there’s more. These include the Origin Red Rocks (www.originhotel.com), a 124- room hotel that offers the closest accommodations to the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater, and (slated for a December 2018 debut is the GaylordRockiesResort&ConventionCenter (www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/dengr-gaylord-rockies-resort-and-convention-center).
Denver’s impressive hotel boom is good news for the busy Colorado Convention Center (700 14th St. Tel: 303-228-8000. www.denverconvention.com), which is about to start an expansion that will add 80,000 square feet of new meeting space, 60,000 square feet of pre-function space, and a 50,000-square-foot outdoor rooftop terrace with Rocky Mountain views.
Denver’s vibrant LGBT nightlife scene also continues to evolve. Triangle Bar (2036 N. Broadway. Tel: 303-658-0913. www.thetriangledenver.com) relaunched in 2017 in a new venue, complete with bar and restaurant. With part of the bar’s energy derived from wind power, Triangle calls itself “Denver’s eco-friendly LGBTQ bar,” and uses compostable plasticware as well as recycled paper products. Also relatively new on the scene is Trade (475 Santa Fe Dr. Tel: 720-627-5905. www.facebook.com/tradedenver), which opened in 2016 and hosts popular theme nights like the Skivvy Strip Down, Pup Mosh, and the occasional foam party.
Also popular for lively events is longtime favorite Charlie’s Nightclub (900 E. Colfax Ave. Tel: 303-839-8890. www.charliesdenver.com), which recently added a shower for go-go boy shows and also expanded its backyard deck, making outdoor socializing even easier. Another mustsee for its festive vibe is X Bar (629 E. Colfax Ave. Tel: 832-2687. www.xbardenver.com), which also has a large outdoor area and dance floor. For a more intimate ambiance, top picks include Pride & Swagger (450 E. 17th Ave. Tel: 720-476- 6360. www.prideandswaggerco.com), a neighborhood corner bar with big, peoplewatching windows and mildly industrial décor, and Gladys: The Nosy Neighbor (500 Santa Fe Dr. Tel: 303-893-6112. www.facebook.com/gladysdenver), a tiny dive bar with lively drag shows and what I personally feel is one of the best names I’ve ever heard for a gay bar (if you’re too young to know what the name’s about, Google “Bewitched”).
If you’re hungry for some gay cuisine, head to Hamburger Mary’s (1336 E. 17th Ave. Tel: 303-993-5812. www.hamburgermarys.com/denver), which now operates from a relatively new location, set inside a group of attractive former homes that are interconnected, with both indoor and outdoor seating and an array of special events. To find out what’s happening in gay Denver, it’s always a good idea to check Outfront Magazine (www.outfrontmagazine.com) for the latest news and happenings.
Denver continues to solidify its role as a hub for arts and culture in the Rocky Mountain region. “The urban art scene in Denver is exploding, with several fantastic emerging artists making their presence known through cool street art installations and more,” said Gerry Link, general manager of The Maven, a new hotel at Dairy Block.