Alpine Aesthetic: A toast to Lodo and checking into new Thompson Denver
As I pulled up to the valet stand at the Thompson Denver, I didn’t recognize the city blocks surrounding me. After trading the Mile High City for High Country for good five years ago, every time I’ve returned — spring and fall offseason trips at minimum — the less familiar my former zip code becomes.
Since the Thompson Denver project was announced in 2016, downtown itself and the hotel landscape has seen a boom in development. New boutique lodging options popped up across Lower Downtown (LoDo) like the Maven Hotel at Dairy Block, Kimpton Hotel Born and Hotel Indigo while the transformation of one of the most prime corners of the district was underway.
Previously a parking lot across the street from RTD’s former bus facility — also rebuilt as Market Station with offices, apartments and ground-level “Basecamp” anchors including Danner, Thule and Topo Designs — the just-opened Thompson Denver is the centerpiece of revitalization for a once-sluggish stretch of the 16th Street Mall. Last month, the City and County of Denver broke ground on its much-anticipated $149 million overhaul of the entire corridor known formally as the “16th Street Mall Project.”
“The city of Denver has so much to offer, from its dynamic culture and vibrant population to its beautiful environment and distinct lifestyle, that it was only a matter of time before Thompson Hotels found a home here,” said Thompson Denver general manager and area vice president, Amanda Parson. “Thompson strives to be at the cutting-edge of culture across many locations, so it is our mission to establish Thompson Denver as a cultural hub for travelers and locals alike, where finding and experiencing the next best thing can happen every day.”
Upon entry, a dramatic lobby welcomes guests in signature Thompson Hotels style — mid-century modern meets urban — but tailored to its newest outpost with an “upscale mountain chalet chic” vibe; It’s the luxury lifestyle hospitality brand’s first property (now under the World of Hyatt portfolio) in Colorado.
Thompson Denver’s distinct sense of place comes to life through thoughtful touches and rich textures by New York City-based firm Parts and Labor Design, which drew its main inspiration from the diverse topography across the Centennial State.
Its foundation — using natural materials from wood to stone to copper — is punctuated by statement pieces such as a two-story hearth fireplace and a massive marble installation as the front desk along with artwork from exclusively local artists on the walls. This cabin-inspired warmth continues upstairs in the 216 guest rooms and suites (from $409 per night), which feature plush Sferra bedding, rainfall showers, D.S. & Durga toiletries and an honor bar filled with area artisan goods and favorites from Thompson Hotels’ 18 other destinations across the U.S. and Mexico.
But the coolest comfort is a Victrola record player in every suite and in the “Listening Lounge” — a separate section of the Reynard Social restaurant and bar on the sixth floor featuring its new T1 Turntable as well as a selection of curated vinyl. Thompson Denver formed an official partnership with the century-old, Denver-based manufacturer of turntables, “To provide an unparalleled musical experience for guests.”
The highlight of my stay was a decadent dinner in Chez Maggy, Thompson Denver’s 90-seat, already-bustling brasserie (with adjacent bar) by famed chef Ludo Lefebvre. It’s a homecoming of sorts for the cookbook author and star of the hit ABC cooking competition, “The Taste.”
Lefebvre explained: “I’ve long hoped to open a restaurant in Denver, and it was a natural fit to team up with Thompson Denver, part of a brand known to cultivate culture and inspire all who walk through its doors. My wife grew up here and we visit often, so I’ve always considered Denver a second home and knew it would be the perfect place to open my first restaurant outside of Petit Trois in Los Angeles. Chez Maggy is especially personal to me since the menu features dishes inspired by my childhood in France, and the overall concept is a deeply special tribute to my family.”
Lefebvre blends his roots with hyperlocal inspiration from the Rocky Mountain region’s unique climate, all as an homage to his family. Chez Maggy features classic French fare — with an emphasis on dishes he misses most from his home country — alongside playful tributes to Denver. I’m still dreaming about the four courses I tasted: roasted bone marrow with parsley salad, onion bam and brioche ($15); avocado and citrus salad with red onion, celery and leche de tigre ($17); trout almandine with rice pilaf, almond beurre noisette and capers ($28); crepes suzette with Grand Marnier, orange and butter ($13).
Despite downtown Denver looking completely different these days, the Thompson Denver fits right in and made my most recent visit feel a little more like a second home, too.
Katie Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.
1616 Market St., Denver