To get to the front desk of the 50-room Ramble Hotel, which opened in Denver’s River North Art District (RiNo) last May, guests walk through what amounts to a cocktail jamboree: the first outpost of the bar Death & Co beyond New York City’s East Village. The hotel, owned by Ryan Diggins, 34, a local developer, was generally inspired by the salons of 17th-century France, and, specifically, by Catherine de Vivonne, Marquise de Rambouillet, whose own salon was known as an egalitarian gathering. “I loved what the French salon stood for, as really it was a place for everyone, as long as you had an opinion,” Mr. Diggins said. “Ramble is our shortened version of her name, and also means to wander or explore without a definitive destination.” In hopes of fostering the Marquise’s ideal of interaction and engagement, the hotel stocked the airy, ground-floor lobby with myriad seating areas for lingering, and also holds occasional art programs in its adjacent event space.
The hotel is close to RiNo’s inventive restaurants (Comal Heritage Food Incubator, where Syrian refugees make the best hummus I’ve tasted, based on their own recipes), shops (like Modern Nomad, a housewares store in a former auto body shop) and food halls (including Zeppelin Station, which opened last March). Our room faced Larimer Street, which was once a hangout for the Beat muse Neal Cassady, and can be rowdy; we listened to bachelorette parties swish by like whirligigs on 16-passenger bike bar tours. The Denver Rescue Mission nearby means revelers may be sobered by denizens down on their luck.
Decorated by Avenue Interior Design of Los Angeles, our 300-square-foot standard king guest room — overlooking Denver’s circa 1933 Benjamin Moore factory neon sign — was a victim of latter day design clichés: a sliding barn door to the bathroom, a button-tufted ottoman, a treacly framed compass. The minibar was a bit of a misnomer, as it held 375 milliliter bottles — nearly a pint — of liquor, which seemed excessive for the average traveler and not carry-on approved by the T.S.A.; options included Tito’s vodka ($20) and Basil Hayden’s bourbon ($28). Still, I loved the soft antique Persian rug on the hickory flooring, the Prussian blue walls, the scroll arm chairs in the window-front sitting area, and the Victrola Bluetooth gramophone speaker. There was a French press with fresh grounds from the Denver roaster Middle State Coffee.
My inner Dolly Parton appreciated that the 64-square-foot bathroom included a glam station: a Hollywood vanity mirror surrounded by 15 frosted light bulbs. But as someone who is also a nonagenarian on the inside, I must point out that the sleek glass shower enclosure, with brass Waterworks fixtures, left a puddle of water on the porcelain tile floor. There was no bathtub, which I wasn’t missing in this often drought-parched state. The rosemary mint toiletries, custom blended for the hotel, smelled absolutely delicious.
Beyond valet parking and a 200-square-foot cardio room fitted with a Precor elliptical, free weights and two treadmills, there were very few extracurricular amenities at the Ramble. I can only assume that some guests were there to carouse. Wi-Fi is free and fast, and you can stream your Netflix and other accounts to the TV. The hotel recently installed iPads in every room for communicating with staff, which was wise — the rooms don’t have phones, and my own iPhone had no service in the room.
After I booked the room, a confirmation email from the hotel urged me to make a reservation at Death & Co posthaste. The scene-y herringbone-floored, chandelier-lit lobby bar warranted the precaution. I ordered the Mondrian cocktail — with blanco tequila, raspberry, aperitivo, egg white and sparkling wine — which tasted like a melted Popsicle, and, given the late afternoon hour and my near heat exhaustion, I actually liked. We had dinner at Super Mega Bien, the on-site Latin American dim sum restaurant by Dana Rodriguez, a James Beard Award-nominated chef. Exquisite dishes included chipotle honey-roasted duck served with stout housemade flour gorditas and goat cheese stuffed fried squash blossoms.
The Bottom Line
Although families with children might want to book elsewhere, the Ramble Hotel is a perfect den for those hoping to experience a sliver of Denver’s 19th-century reputation as the party-opolis of the Wild West.
The Ramble Hotel, 1280 25th Street; 720-996-6300; theramblehotel.com
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