Situated east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado's capital is a breath of (high altitude) fresh air. A thriving, modern US city, it effortlessly combines access to the great outdoors with a genuinely impressive arts and cultural scene, though it's also a great place to unwind; Denverites love a beer almost as much as a blustery hike or a day on the ski slopes.
Undoubtedly one of the hotel's core strengths; The Crawford is situated right inside Denver Union Station, the city's main railway and transportation hub. With direct trains running to and from Denver International Airport, it can easily double as an airport hotel, albeit one with infinitely more cool factor.
Since undergoing a US$54 million renovation in 2014, the historic Union Station is now a hub of bars, restaurants, coffee shops and more, there's even an ice-cream parlour for those with a sweet tooth. Aside from the transportation convenience, the hotel's location in the Lower Downtown area means you're also within striking distance of many of Denver's top attractions as well as an eclectic selection of restaurants and bars and even Denver's best loved bookshop, the Tattered Cover Book Store.
Though the hotel was unveiled in 2014, great care was taken to preserve many of the historic features, many of which date back to the station's incarnation over a century ago. The quiet balcony areas look down into the main terminal lobby nicknamed "Denver's Living Room" thanks largely to the plethora of chairs and sofas scattered around The Terminal Bar, Pig Train Coffee Company and more.
On the mezzanine balcony, guests can enjoy a cocktail at the swish, 1930s themed Cooper Lounge or head to ground level to check out boutique shops and additional watering holes. With its crisp, off-white paintwork, low-slung chandeliers and retro wooden benches, the station vibe combines the grand old flourishes of yesteryear with a considered, contemporary, flair.
My main concern with the hotel's location was the noise factor but it turned out to be unwarranted. My double room was surprisingly expansive, more like a small loft apartment in fact, with a sloping ceiling, exposed wooden beams and a subtle mood lighting.
Guests who stay at the Crawford more than once are unlikely to experience deja vu; great care has gone into ensuring each of the 112 rooms throughout the property has its own unique feel; a byproduct not only of careful design but also an attempt to preserve the architecture of the original train depot wherever possible.
The Crawford does charge a daily Destination Amenity Fee of US$20 plus tax per room a day, but this affords guests a range of discounts and freebies at several of the locally owned surrounding businesses.
The hotel's prime location in Lower Downtown makes it walkable to dozens of high-calibre restaurants but in truth there's really no need to leave the station at all. The Terminal Bar is a great option for a no-nonsense burger, grilled cheese sandwich or fish tacos, while ACME is a New York-inspired deli offering great grab-and-go options. Pigtrain Coffee Company and nearby Snooze, An A.M. Eatery are both excellent breakfast choices or head to Ultreia for Iberian inspired tapas with a Portuguese bent for dinner.
If your stay falls over a weekend you can now hop aboard the Winter Express Ski Train. Departing early morning Saturday and Sunday during winter season (plus the first Friday of the season, January-March) from virtually right outside your front door, it returns later the same afternoon, meaning you could pack in a full day's skiing then be back in Denver in time for a cocktail and dinner. If that all sounds a bit much, (though really why wouldn't you take advantage?) you can be at a host of top cultural attractions throughout Denver within minutes using the Light Rail System or Uber.
The Crawford Hotel effortlessly combines convenience with an offbeat charm I've seldom experienced. It definitely enhanced my two-day stay in the city. And though it's right in the heart of everything, the unexpected peace and quiet once in my room also made for a restful stay before gearing up to explore other parts of Colorado.
Rooms start from $US249 a night. See www.thecrawfordhotel.com
The location as well as generally having so many cool bars and restaurants in such close proximity while staying in an undeniably unique setting.
Late-night dining options are limited inside the station area itself if arriving on a later flight, though plenty of delivery options are available.