Step back in time to the historic glamour of Hotel Boulderado, a national landmark in Boulder, Colorado. It feels like a time warp into Victorian history but with a modern twist—a truly unique experience.
Today we’ll discover some piquant stories, the location, and the highlights that make Hotel Boulderado fabulous. It was the first and still preferred luxury hotel in Boulder.
When we arrived, we were immediately swept away by the grandeur of the stained glass ceiling. As we sat and waited for our tour guide before check-in, we were perfectly occupied by the artistry above us.
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The lobby was rather comfortable sipping our mocktails while wedding parties swarmed all around us. The hotel was bustling with celebratory events and guests dressed to impress all weekend long. It was joyful to watch the local patrons merrily reunite with their friends.
The hotel has over a century of celebrations. As Boulder’s first luxury hotel, it of course opened its doors with a bang! On New Year’s Eve of 1908, Hotel Boulderdo had a Gala Ball that was sure to impress. It has continued to host the New Year’s Eve festivities every year since then. Due to the current national pandemic however, the plans for the 2020/2021 party is impending. You can check their Facebook for updates.
We were met by Laurel, the hotel’s onsite historian. If you get an opportunity to take a hotel tour, she is incredibly knowledgeable. Our tour’s duration included fabulous stories of significant guests, the nostalgia of the antiques and furnishings, and the hotel’s fascinating history. Here are just a few of those highlights.
Miss Honey Bee
One of our favorite stories was one of Miss Honey Bee. Her gorgeous life-size portrait graces the very top of the hotel’s five-story staircase. Her father commissioned the portrait to commemorate her debutante initiation into society when she was 18 years old. She was a music teacher for children most of her life and sadly never married.
When she retired into an assisted living facility, she tried to donate the painting to the Boulder museums. They, however, did not have space large enough to hang her painting. She frequently ate lunch at the Hotel Boulderado, and luckily they had the space to accept her life sized donation.
I love oil paintings because various lighting can bring out different features and colors throughout the day. The expressions and details are quite moving.
Her chic dress, the original that was worn in the portrait was preserved and can be admired in the North Wing of the hotel.
The stained-glass canopy of glitter and lights we spoke of earlier is the distinguishing feature of Hotel Boulderado, yet rarely anyone knows the story.
The original stained-glass ceiling from 1909 was made in Italy with cathedral quality. In 1959, it was devastatingly ruined by a winter storm. The ceiling remained bare for some time and then replaced by red, white, and blue plexiglass panels.
Needless to say, it did not have the charm or beauty as its predecessor. It wasn’t until the 1970’s when the owner decided to enlist the help of the artisan, Maria Garcia, to restore the original stained-glass ceiling that was so beloved.
For several months, Maria and her husband laboriously stayed in room #202 to design, cut, and install the work. Their finished masterpiece would be the backdrop of many weddings and celebrations that came afterwards.
We found the exceptional ceiling to be the hotel’s crown jewel.
The Language of The Fan
How I wish ornate hand fans would come back in style, they’re so glamorous! Look at how beautiful some of these pieces are. On the hotel tour with Laurel, we discovered The Language of The Fan. Not only was it used as a cooling device but also a flirting prop to communicate love!
Fans were highly fashionable during the Victorian era. The Hotel Boulderado exhibits fine piece antiques throughout its halls. It was fun learning about how communication was exchanged over a century ago. Today, most of the practices have been lost.
For fun though, the hotel has recovered some of the most interesting love gestures with the fan. Perhaps I should try these out with my hubby? I don’t expect he’ll have a clue of what I’m doing as communication in today’s world is much more direct.
A few favorites from Language of the Fan
Quickly Fanning Herself: “I love you so much”
Resting The Fan On Her Lips: “I don’t trust you”
Fanning Herself With The Left Hand: “Don’t flirt with that woman”
The Otis Elevator
People either love or hate The Otis Elevator; we actually loved it. It’s such a unique feature and totally fits the ambiance of the hotel. The elevator is an antique, and it’s the same model that was installed in 1908. It operates by a staff member when you ring the bell. This is another favorite setting for wedding photos that guests love.
There are so many wonderful stories at the Hotel Boulderado to discover. Don’t hesitate to take a tour if you find yourself in Boulder. We more than enjoyed the hallways full of interesting objects and displays. Can you imagine what their guest rooms would look like?
The Presidential Suite
Whether you receive a Victorian, Renaissance, or Contemporary style guest room will depend on which wing of the hotel you book. We were hosted in the Presidential Suite located in the main wing, the hotel’s historic building. If you want something modern, you’ll want to request a room in the North wing.
The Presidential Suite was located on the penthouse floor and a corner unit. We loved how spacious and comfortable the room was. The entire space was appointed with classic Victorian furniture.
The bed was invitingly plush and comfortable. Our favorite part of the morning was waking up to views of the nearby Flat Irons. I was also impressed with the Aveda toiletries and numerous towels in the bathroom, just fabulous!
The furnishings really gave us the authentic feel of the Victorian era. It was as if I stepped into a movie. Each piece of furniture was made of hardwood with the classically detailed carvings.
We even appreciated the details of the wallpaper. The Victorian-style looks formal, but the furniture was actually comfortable in the living room. There’s plenty of space to invite friends, family, or even colleagues to join you.
The living room overlooked downtown Boulder, such a charming town.
My favorite piece of furniture from our suite would be the lovely rose carved Victorian armchair upholstered in blue satin. I would have loved to take the chair home with us. There were many gorgeous antique pieces of furniture in the hotel.
Book the Presidential Suite at Hotel Boulderado here.
NOTE: If you’re looking for a contemporary style room, the North Wing is the newest addition to the hotel. Book direct here.
It’s hard to be glamorous without fantastic shopping! Hotel Boulderado is in the heart of Boulder and only one block away from the beloved Pearl Street attraction. It’s also hard to come to Boulder and not visit the mountains. Incredible adventures also await within an hour’s proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park, the third most visited national park in the country.
Pearl Street Mall
The large outdoor mall has over 1000 businesses between 9th Street and 21st Street; you can shop and eat till you drop. It’s the major hub for locals, visitors, foodies, and artists alike. We loved walking down the red-brick streets full of local shops, restaurants, and entertainment.
Dushanbe Tea House
The Dushanbe Tea House is a Pearl Street treasure and located only 2 blocks from Hotel Boulderado. The beautiful and unique tea house was created as a fabulous gift to the City of Boulder from its sister city Dushanbe of Tajikistan.
If you don’t get to go anywhere else on Pearl Street, at least stop by this whimsical tea house for some fabulous tea time or dine-in experience.
We indulged ourselves at tea time with some of the best teas we’ve ever tried. We’d recommend the Vanilla Chai Rooibos and the Strawberry Lemon Twist.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Hotel Boulderado was only one hour from Rocky Mountain National Park. If you can swing the time, it’s worth the trip. If you go from 9-5pm, you will need a park pass to gain access. Due to COVID, they are sold out of park tickets way in advance. Make sure to plan accordingly.
Anytime after 5 pm, though, visitors do not need a parking pass but need to purchase a parking pass of $25. We got to the park right at 5 pm to catch the elk bugle and the gorgeous sunset.
Spruce Farm and Fish Restaurant is Hotel Boulderado’s modern cuisine restaurant. It has a vibrant social atmosphere that was welcoming and comfortable. Come for dinner and stay for brunch!
Colorado is an inland state; we were surprised at how delicious and fresh the seafood entrées tasted. The cup of clam chowder was a wonderful appetizer and rivals any chowder from New England. The broth was a perfect texture that was neither lumpy nor too thin. It was also well balanced and not starchy. I could have had a bowl of it and called it a night.
For our main entrées, Mike had the Rocky Mountain Trout, and I tried one of their Special’s, Scallops, and Summer Corn. I absolutely loved my dish. The corn salsa paired nicely with the perfectly seared scallops. Mike enjoyed his trout, appreciating how fresh it was made to order. The fish portion was more than generous.
The desserts were delicious, particularly the Spruce New York Cheesecake made with black raspberry and sour cream sauce- phenomenal! Mike completely ate his slice of the Key Lime Pie and did not share it! We would order these items again and recommend that everyone gets their own dessert. They’re too good to share.
After a pleasant night’s sleep in our comfy suite, we returned the next morning to Spruce and tried their brunch. I love benedicts, and I love avocado, so I had to order their Avocado Benedict. It was a match made in Heaven. The side of fresh fruit was a fresh option rather than potatoes. Overall, a tasty and filling dish.
Mike had the specials and ordered the Challah French Toast and the Truffle Sliders. He couldn’t decide if he was in the mood for breakfast or lunch, so the server recommended to get both. He knew our style! Mike loved the maple syrup on his French Toast! He’s a big maple syrup fan and enjoyed every bite of it.
The Truffle Sliders and Fries were a generous size and enough to share if all you want is a snack. We were both pretty full but enjoyed trying the Sliders. The house-ground beef tasted well seasoned and topped with fresh veggies and gruyere.
The locals and visitors love coming to Spruce for their modern yet approachable menu selections. The menu changes seasonally to ensure the freshest ingredients. We appreciated the value of the generous portions and the quality of the dishes.
The Hotel Boulderado flawlessly blends the past and present together with finesse. It is the place to see and be seen in Boulder. The locals and out of town visitors love its historic preservation while keeping modern comforts in mind. The service and attention to detail by the staff were as expected for a renowned establishment.
When you’re in Boulder, do not hesitate to stay in one of the country’s most unique historic hotels. Hotel Boulderado is a landmark officially recognized by The National Register of Historic Places.
A few historic guests you might recognize include Helen Keller, Robert Frost, and Louis Armstrong. There have been countless celebrities and prominent figures too. The Duke of Ellington once showed up unannounced with his forty-two person entourage!
Stay at Hotel Boulderado to learn more about its fascinating history and experience the timeless elegance.
Book direct here and save on booking fees.