Written by Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Know, Denver Post

Hotels were the center of social life a century ago, when Denver was building itself into a city that mattered. Grand establishments, like the Olin, the Albany, the Barclay and L’Imperiale not only put up out-of-towners, they also welcomed locals who came in droves to drink, dine and dance.

Classically inspired, they set standards for the design of their day with lush interiors, elegant restaurants, opulent banquet halls, and endlessly long bars that made them high-end options for a night on the town.

Today, only a few hotels remain as significant draws for Denverites, and mostly for their nostalgia, not because they’re relevant to current culture. Folks might park in the Brown Palace’s atrium for a sentimental high tea, or stop at Oxford’s in-house bar, the Cruise Room, to relive the cocktail age, but the rest of our inns have trended corporate and ordinary. The city’s Hyatts, Homewood Suites and Westins are generally considered convenient, comfortable places for business travelers — they have that down to a science —  but no one thinks of them as must-hit hot spots on a Friday night.

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