Set in the heart of Denver’s museum district, the Art is a perfect addition to the city’s thriving cultural scene. The hotel’s impressive up to $150-million (U.S.) art collection is worth more than the huge glass-walled hotel. In-house curator, Dianne Perry Vanderlip, was the founding curator of modern and contemporary art for the Denver Art Museum. She has pulled together a selection of paintings, photographs, installations and sculptures that represent a bit of a “Who’s Who” of modern art including Tracey Emin, Clyfford Still and Sol LeWitt.
My favourite pieces were in the reception area: Otter is a towering horse by Deborah Butterfield that’s made from bronze cast to look just like driftwood, and – perhaps appropriate for a hotel – a huge, floor-to-ceiling tapestry by Edward Ruscha emblazoned with the words “INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH SLEEP.”
The Denver Art Museum, Denver Public Library and History Colorado Center are within walking distance, and less than a kilometre away is the thriving Union Station scene, with its restaurants, delis and cafés, and boutique shopping at Larimer Square. The Art offers a complimentary car service to its guests for short journeys. The airport is a 40-minute drive away.
This hotel is all about design. It starts when you step in the door with 22,000 white LED nodes embedded in the ceiling – an installation by artist Leo Villareal, who is famous for his LED light patterns that never repeat themselves on cables of the San Francisco-Oakland bridge. Many of the pieces in the Art’s collection have been commissioned by Vanderlip specifically for the hotel.
IF I COULD CHANGE ONE THING
That said, the hotel corridors are reminiscent of an office block with grey, patterned carpet and sludgy grey walls. When I asked the guest-experience manager why, he said it was to give people a rest from the art in the rest of the space. I don’t believe a word of it – the corridors, and to some extent the rooms, too, are utilitarian and quite uninspiring.
I loved the sunny terrace that adjoins the fourth-floor reception through lanai doors, which are opened wide on warm days. Not many hotels in Denver have such a good outside space, and the fire pit was ablaze during my visit in February.
EAT IN OR EAT OUT?
Definitely eat in. Executive chef Chris Jakubiec has done a good job here, with modern classics using Colorado ingredients. We ordered a selection of appetizers, including some delicious and not-too-spicy Asian-style wings and a charcuterie and cheese board to enjoy with cocktails in the bar. While still at the bar, we ordered from room service. Service was so fast it almost beat us back to our ninth-floor room.
WHO YOU’LL MEET
Expect to meet culture vultures, business travellers and educated souls enjoying an art-themed cocktail at the bar. And a few big kids who (like me) can’t keep their hands out of the jars of complimentary retro candy in the hotel’s Living Room space.
ROOM WITH A VIEW
Suite 740 has two west-facing windows overlooking the Golden Triangle neighbourhood, Denver’s Public Library and the Daniel Libeskind-designed Art Museum. From the seating area, however, there’s a view of the neighbouring parking lot, so best pull the blinds on that one.
The Art, 1201 Broadway, Denver; thearthotel.com; 165 rooms from $289 (U.S.).
The writer was a guest of the hotel.