For those seeking a historic hotel stay that’s just as stylish as it is storied, it’s time for a trip to Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, Colorado. The hotel is a City of Boulder landmark, a proud member of Historic Hotels in America, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This 113-year-old property is an exceptionally special spot to spend time as either a daytime visitor or a guest. As the first luxury hotel built in Boulder, this property dates back to 1909. The intent when it was first constructed was to encourage travelers from the East Coast to stop and enjoy Boulder, which at the time was an up-and-coming farm town.
The name “Hotel Boulderado” was actually considered a controversial title for the time. It was a bit “out of the box” compared to the other modern, more traditional, and simple hotel names of the early 1900s like, “The Plaza” or “Grand Hotel” (which weren’t nearly as creative as the combination of “Boulder” and “Colorado” this property dons!).
This unique name was purposefully designed so that travelers would always remember where they had stayed. Not that they could forget anyway, after visiting and seeing how gorgeous it is, inside and out…
When the hotel was built, the builders sold “shares” of the hotel for $100 a pop to locals, which meant the citizens themselves of the town were shareholders — so it was known as the “town people’s” hotel. Designed by local architects William Redding & Son, the five-story brick building incorporates both Italian Renaissance and Spanish Revival features.
I stayed in the “historic” wing of the property, in which each of the rooms featured original furniture and decor. It was like taking a step back in time 100 years! A century ago when this hotel was first constructed, I would have been lucky to have my own bathroom in the room and not share it with all of the other women on the floor.
At the hotel’s opening, there were 90 rooms — but today, there are 42 rooms in the “historic wing” (the original building) because some of the rooms on the second floor have been converted into gorgeous, large event spaces for weddings and reunions.
I actually learned on my tour that back in the hotel’s original heyday, the nicest rooms for the wealthiest and most elite would actually be on the second floor, compared to in modern times when it’s common that the nicest rooms are located on higher floors.
This is because the second floor offered easy access to all the social happenings and was close to all the action — and because this hotel’s second-floor rooms had a gorgeous wraparound porch to sit on, bask in the Boulder sunshine and people watch.
Immediately upon stepping inside the hotel’s historic building, you can sense the lingering feeling of opulence. You can gaze upon each of the ornate details around the furnishings and architecture, including the enormous, stained glass skylight. Underneath the skylight, the multi-story grand staircase cascades from the ceiling down to the tile floor like something out of a fairytale.
Although this isn’t the original skylight (a massive storm in 1959, unfortunately, damaged that window), it’s sure a sight to behold. You can catch a glimpse of a piece of that first skylight in a display case on the first floor (pictured below!).
And the floors you’re walking on today are still the authentic tiles that were imported from Europe more than a century ago. You can even ride the historic Otis Elevator, which is hand-cranked – and still in operation!
And make sure to stop in for a meal at Spruce Farm & Fish, which is right on-site, to experience a terrific, fresh brunch, lunch, or dinner menu. I enjoyed the Local Colorado Bison Tenderloin and an expertly crafted house salad, which was fantastic.
Pair it with the Boulderado Barrel Aged Manhattan which is made with Bird Dog Kentucky Bourbon, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth, orange bitters, and aged two months in house barrels — and you’ve got a perfect dinner pairing.
After dinner, stop downstairs and check out License #1 bar. This underground speakeasy-style bar’s name pays homage to the city’s strict liquor laws of the early 1900s (Boulder used to be a dry city and not a drop of booze was sold in town, even upon the hotel’s opening! Don’t worry, that’s not the case today! There’s no shortage of expertly curated cocktails at this speakeasy.).
So, whether you want to stay in one of the beautiful hotel rooms or just grab something to eat or drink at one of the in-house restaurants or bars, visitors are always welcome here to stay the night or to drop by before going out to explore the nearby shops and restaurants.
And one of the best things about Hotel Boulderado is that it’s sure located in a fantastic spot for exploration. It’s just one block away from the famous Pearl Street Mall and in the heart of all the downtown action.
Interested in learning more for yourself? Experience an exclusive taste of Boulder history by embarking on Hotel Boulderado’s free, self-guided history tour which starts on the third floor of the historic section of the property.
For those who are interested in experiencing an immersive guided tour, inquire with the Front Desk for availability and schedule some time with the hotel’s expert, passionate in-house historian, Laurel.
Learn more about the history of this iconic landmark, and even download an educational scavenger hunt, here.
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