Mile High Dine and Recline: The Oxford Hotel, Denver
By Katie Rapone
If Denver’s Oxford Hotel was a cocktail, it would contain equal parts nostalgia and modern flair, shaken, not stirred!
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Oxford was most recently named a top 500 hotel in the world by the readers of Travel + Leisure.
In the midst of a period of great transition in Denver, The Oxford Hotel opened on October 3, 1891. Conceived by Colorado’s leading architect, Frank E. Edbrooke, The Oxford stood five stories high and preceded Edbrooke’s completion of The Brown Palace by one year. The Oxford came to fruition after local building and brewing tycoons – Adolph Zang, Philip Feldhauser, and William Mygatt – saw the need to create a first-class hotel near Union Station. Today the hotel’s excellent service and superior location in downtown Denver has helped it stand the test of time.
“The Oxford Hotel is very proud to be Denver’s most historic hotel. We invite guests to ‘stay for the story’ – from the moment you arrive at our hotel, we want it to feel like a warm embrace that transports you to a classic age where high style & excellent service were paramount,” says Ed Blair, area general manager of The Oxford.
With no shortage of hotels in the Denver area, today’s travelers have unlimited options when it comes to choosing a place to “recline” in the Mile High City. Yet guests of The Oxford Hotel appear to return to the revered hotel for the ideal mix of new and old.
“There is so much to explore here at The Oxford – from its extensive collection of Western art to its full-service fitness center and spa. The hotel offers an extensive schedule of nightly activations in the lobby – from a complimentary Bourbon Hour, where we pour the 130th Anniversary Label bourbon created for the hotel by Denver’s Laws Whiskey House, to local live music and shopping events.”
According to Blair, The Oxford has undergone extensive renovations over the years, all designed to celebrate the hotel’s rich past while enhancing the authentic urban experience sought by today’s modern travelers. In 2018, the hotel completed a major renovation of its lobby, 80 guest rooms, and 10,000 square feet of meeting space. “A few years ago we revived and re-hung several of our major Western art pieces with new frames selected by Denver’s NINE dot ARTS, we also commissioned a brand new piece by renowned Denver artist Duke Beardsley,” says Blair.
Guest rooms and suites at the hotel combine historic charm and contemporary service. The hotel offers 80 individually decorated guest rooms, including one spacious Presidential Suite. Rooms feature fresh white and gray tones complimented by pops of vibrant blue and rich emerald green. Original antique pieces have been mixed with contemporary, comfortable pieces, along with new drapes, comfortable bedding and light fixtures. A premium room at The Oxford features Victorian-era décor and makes use of bright natural light. Its luxurious bathroom includes thoughtful touches like a clawfoot soaking tub, pedestal sinks, eye-catching tile floors, and a separate glass shower.
The Cruise Room
No stay at The Oxford is complete without a cocktail at Denver’s longest-running bar, The Cruise Room, which opened the day after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Located just off The Oxford lobby, the quintessential martini bar pours award-winning cocktails amid a red hue ambiance. Drawing inspiration from the RMS Queen Mary, the space’s décor showcases a wide array of unique vintage design features, including a distinctly retro Art Deco design and wine bottle-shaped layout. As long-time Denver residents, Xan Creative was honored to be responsible for restoring this special place. While the look is the same; the design team chose to elevate the finishes to a more luxurious version. “We switched plastic laminate to quartz, and vinyl to leather, elevating history with the lift of a martini glass.”
In 2017, modern steakhouse Urban Farmer Denver — a unique concept by Co-Founder of Sage Restaurant Group, Peter Karpinski — opened adjacent to The Oxford. Urban Farmer was founded on the idea that combining responsibly sourced food, high-quality ingredients and down-to-earth values would create a new kind of steakhouse, where people could create memories and communities could thrive.
Helmed by Executive Chef Ryan Rau — who is very passionate about sustainability and partners with several local ranchers/farmers, including Rebel Farms, Field to Front Door from Longmont and Bootheel 7 Ranch — Urban Farmer’s seasonally-driven menu highlights nose-to-tail cuts of naturally-raised meat, including a communal charcuterie station.
“Urban Farmer Denver is a heartfelt tribute to the incredible history of LoDo and The Oxford Hotel. We intentionally blended the modern Urban Farmer design language with the timeless charm of this iconic space,” says Urban Farmer General Manager, Justyn Brogan. “Reflecting the region’s essence, our guests are immersed in a palette of deep browns, maroons, and greens that harmonize with nature’s own hues. With thoughtful attention to detail, we crafted large windows that mirror the original mullion detail and color of the original building, while embracing modernity as they fully open, inviting the vibrant energy of the LoDo neighborhood into our space. The result is a labor of love—a captivating ambiance where the past and present, historical and modern, coexist harmoniously, creating a dining experience that celebrates the special heritage of the location.”