Author Linda Hayes Photography Joshua Paul
DAY ONE / You’ll warm right away to the cosmopolitan vibe and good-natured staff at The Ritz-Carlton, Denver. The downtown location puts you in the perfect position for venturing out and about, and your plush Club Level room (with a Rolls-Royce Phantom to chauffeur you around) adds luxury to your stay.
After a leisurely Club Lounge breakfast, grab a map from the Club Concierge and hit the streets. Dress warmly; the sun might be shining brightly, but mornings can be chilly. LoDo is your destination, a decidedly hip section of town, where century-old warehouses and Victorian buildings house an eclectic collection of restaurants, galleries, and shops.
From the hotel, walk to pedestrian-only 16th Street Mall, and then stroll (or catch one of the hybrid-electric buses) up a half-dozen blocks to Wazee Street. At Rockmount Ranch Wear, you can dress yourself from head to toe in classic Western duds, including the original snap-button shirts by “Papa Jack” Weil, who founded the place in 1946. He worked here every day, outfitting the likes of Tom Hanks and Dwight Yoakam, until he passed away this past August at 107. His grandson, Steve, runs things now, and the creaky wooden floors and Old West hospitality are the same as they ever were.
Continue along 16th Street to the 20,000-square-foot landmark outpost of the famed Tattered Cover Book Store, one of the largest independent bookstores in the country. Peruse the shelves for fiction, periodicals, or Colorado coffee-table books; then cozy up in one of the nooks and crannies. On the way out, grab a latte at the coffee bar, and set off to the snazzy new Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.
MCA Denver, as it’s known, is easy to spot. Just look for the electric light heart-and-dagger sculpture at the entrance of the David Adjaye–designed, environmentally sustainable museum. Six exhibition spaces within the translucent walls cover such themes as photography, new media, and paper works. Grab lunch at the MCA Café—try a tasty Colorado cheese plate and green tea.
If you’re up for a brisk winter walk, hoof it to Highlands via the striking Denver Millennium Bridge, which resembles a ship’s sails as it spans the South Platte River (or catch a cab). Your destination is West 15th Street, and the agenda is shopping. Animal lovers will appreciate the pet-friendly fabrics, custom dog beds, and “furniture for you and your human” at The Livable Home. The ? Mona Lucero boutique features fashionable finds such as clothing, jewelry, and collectibles by up-and-coming Colorado designers, including Lucero herself. Colorful Red Door Swingin’ overflows with messenger bags, baby booties, and an array of other items.
By now, the sun has set and hunger has surely set in. You have a reservation for dinner at Duo Restaurant, a quick cab ride away. All brick walls and plank floors, with an open kitchen in back, this buzzing restaurant is popular for chef John Broening’s seasonal dishes, as well as favorites like free-range buttermilk-fried chicken with Hoppin’ John bacon or grilled flatiron steak with fresh parsley and anchovy salsa verde. Afterward, try the sticky toffee pudding for dessert.
Now’s a good time to summon the hotel’s Rolls, but instead of going directly back to the hotel, stop off at The Cruise Room in the historic Oxford Hotel. There, amid the art deco décor and trendy LoDo crowd, you can sip a Pink Flamingo, or any of 35 libations from the legendary martini list. Thus fortified, the short trek back to The Ritz is a breeze.