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The unique reflective exterior of the 165-room, multi-use Art Hotel pierces another gorgeous Colorado dusk, seen here overlooking the bustle of Denver’s Broadway.

Western Landmark: The Art Hotel

In Denver, Colorado, this boutique hotel is an elegant salute to creativity, color and light

Written by Rosemary Carstens  
June | July 2016


Located in Denver’s downtown museum district, the Art Hotel catapults the trend of artistic excellence and hospitality to new heights. Exciting multisensory experiences begin immediately upon pulling into the hotel’s porte cochère, where Leo Villareal’s large, custom-commissioned light installation glitters overhead. The work of art features 22,000 light bulbs pulsing in everchanging abstract patterns, echoing the heartbeat of the city.

“Every time a guest arrives, seeing our hotel for the first time, I hold my breath and wait for a reaction,” says David Bodette, the hotel’s general manager. “It gives me an immense sense of accomplishment to hear comments that mirror our owner’s vision for an experiential, intimate and refined experience.”

The 165-room property opened in June 2015 as its own unique work of art. Designed by Davis Partnership Architects, the Art’s modern façade pays homage to neighboring structures, incorporating elements of limestone, frosted windows and angled glass. The southwest corner of the building juts skyward in a salute to the region’s majestic Rocky Mountains.

Inside, the Art pairs luxury accommodations and amenities with a stunning collection of contemporary art. Along with the large installation by Villareal — the well-known artist behind the San Francisco Bay Bridge’s Bay Lights — works by 20th- and 21st-century artists from around the world were selectively chosen by curator Dianne Vanderlip, the former curator of modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum. Vanderlip brought together a remarkable assemblage, including works by Claes Oldenburg, Tracey Emin, Sol LeWitt, Kiki Smith, Deborah Butterfield and Clyfford Still.

Passing through the airy Portico Gallery, guests ascend by elevator to a light-filled, fourth-floor lobby to discover art-filled spaces and glass doors that open to a terrace presenting panoramic urban views and a sense of welcoming invitation. In each elevator, avant-garde video art glimmers, and each floor features a modern artist’s original artwork, setting the theme for that floor’s accommodations.

One of the most striking things about this property is the evident attention to detail and the effort to ensure guests’ pleasure in their stay. For example, in addition to the well-equipped workout facility, the Art Hotel brings fitness to a fun, new level every Friday morning when guests are invited to join the weekly art run, winding through 13 of Denver’s most dynamic public artworks. Beginning with T.D. Kelsey’s bronze On the Wind (affectionately known as Billy the Bison) and breezing by Dan Ostermiller’s monolithic Scottish Angus Cow and Calf, runners come away energized by the beauty of the Mile High City.

Appropriately positioned, the Art is located in the middle of Denver’s cultural action, just a few steps from the Denver Art Museum, the Clyfford Still Museum and the History Colorado Center, and a few blocks from the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Larimer Square, a historic district with more than 100 restaurants, bars and clubs. 

If staying in is preferred, one can also dine at Fire, the hotel’s premier restaurant, lounge and terrace. Presided over by executive chef Chris Jakubiec, guests are surrounded by color and light, while served a fresh take on New American cuisine by a warm and attentive staff. 

Candace Duran, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, sums up this unique boutique property’s ambience: “There is a sense of ownership among the staff here and their pride in every corner of the hotel is inspiring. Seeing guests smile as they experience a place that is so new and different from everything else Denver has to offer makes each day worthwhile.”

In a windowed corner of its lively lounge, guests are invited to gather in striking colada yellow versions of a classic Chesterfield. All photos courtesy of the Art Hotel

The second-floor Welcome Gallery acts as the reception area for the lobby. Seen here from left to right are Nancy Rubins’s "Collage," Deborah Butterfield’s handsome "Otto," and Kiki Smith’s bronze "Singer," only a small glimpse of the spectacular art on permanent display at the Art.

An aerial view of the terrace and fire pit outside FIRE , the hotel’s restaurant and lounge, being enjoyed by locals during happy hour.

Chief mixologist Kyle Wollenhaupt shakes up a FIRE signature cocktail in front of a collection of a dozen Light Knots by artist Larry Bell.

The view from the bedroom of the hotel’s Museum View Suite, overlooking the cultural district.

The Mountain View Suite boasts a commanding view of the Rockies and features a print of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen’s classic "Typewriter Eraser, Scale X."