The gateway to the Old West, Colorado has played host to presidents, railroad and mining tycoons and even the occasional ghost.
And many of the hotels where they stayed still stand to tell the tales. Here are five that continue to offer historical charm, combined with New Age luxury.
The Brown Palace Hotel, Denver
Amid the skyscrapers of downtown Denver, the Brown Palace returns guests to the luxury of the Gilded Age. Founder Henry C. Brown spent $1.6 million on its construction (more than $40 million in today's dollars), and it shows in the golden onyx pillars, ornate wrought iron balconies and stained glass ceiling that surround the eight-story atrium lobby. The hotel's grandeur has attracted presidents from many countries, musicians like the Beatles and Taylor Swift, and celebrities of every era, from Buffalo Bill Cody to Oprah Winfrey. While most of the 1892-built hotel offers a distinctively Victorian look, the top two executive-level floors have Art Deco finishes after a 1920s renovation. (www.brownpalace.com)
While you are here: Enjoy afternoon tea offered in the hotel lobby and relax to the sounds of the grand piano player or harpist. Ask for the honey tea package, where all the treats have been infused with honey made by The Brown Palace's rooftop bee colony. Rates from $29 to $37 per person; noon to 4 pm daily.
Hotel Colorado, Glenwood Springs
With a design based on the Villa de Medici in Tuscany, the Hotel Colorado brings a bit of Italy into the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Rooms today mirror the 19th Century exterior with imported Italian wallpaper and artwork. The 128-room hotel, built in 1893, was a favourite of President Theodore Roosevelt, who once used it as a temporary White House during a three-week bear hunting trip in 1905. One legend has it that the presidentially inspired "Teddy Bear" toy was born here after one of Roosevelt's unsuccessful outings. The hotel maids presented "Teddy" with a stuffed bear made of scraps. (www.hotelcolorado.com)
While you are here: Take a dip in the Glenwood Hot Springs, first developed in 1888 for wealthy tourists. The large pool (which spans two city blocks) is open year round and heats up to about 90 degrees. A smaller therapy pool is kept at 104 degrees. Daily rates range from $9.25 to $18.25 per person, depending on the day of the week and season. (www.hotspringspool.com)
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park
Famous for inspiring Stephen King's "The Shining", the 1909-built Stanley Hotel is, true to form, one of America's most haunted hotels. Even if you do not stay in room 217 where King conceived his classic novel, the hotel offers historical ghost tours every day and even has a paranormal investigator on staff for questions. If the spirits have your hair standing on end, a walk around the grounds can calm the nerves. While you won't find the fictional hedge maze, the hotel's neoclassical architecture and distinctive red roof make a remarkable sight set against the backdrop of Rocky Mountain vistas in every direction. (www.stanleyhotel.com)
While you are here: In the winter, the number of elk in Estes Park triples, as the animals move from nearby Rocky Mountain National Park to a lower elevation for food. You may not even need to leave your room to wildlife watch, but if you are feeling adventurous, rent some snowshoes and take the three-quarter-mile winter hike around Bear Lake.
Hotel Boulderado, Boulder
Unlike most historic hotels, the construction of Hotel Boulderado was not a venture of a single tycoon. It was funded by local business owners. Though privately owned today, the Boulderado maintains much of its 1909 look, with antique furniture and the original cherry wood staircase. The hotel even operates its original Otis elevator, which a staff member must manually operate between floors. Past guests include Robert Frost and Helen Keller. Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong also found rooms here in the 1960s when few Boulder hotels accepted black guests. (www.boulderado.com)
While you are here: Walk one block south to the outdoor Pearl Street Mall, open only to pedestrians. Some of Boulder's best restaurants and shops call this corridor home and, street performers make light of any afternoon.
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs
In 1918, Mining baron Spencer Penrose converted the Broadmoor Gambling Hall into the hotel it is today, hoping to fuse European elegance with frontier hospitality. But Penrose was no stuffy entrepreneur. A fierce anti-prohibitionist, he invited 55 New York hoteliers out west in 1920 and asked them to bring five bottles of their favorite "cologne". Today, you can admire Bottle Alley on the lobby level of the hotel and see the remains of what his conspirators imbibed during Prohibition; some bottles have their original dust. The Broadmoor remains dedicated to indulgence, featuring opulent chandeliers, marbled floors and detailed ceiling and wall murals. (www.broadmoor.com)
While you are here: Play a round of golf at one of the Broadmoor's three championship courses, designed by Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones, Sr and Nicklaus Design. Not into golf? Ride the cog railway 14,110 feet above sea level to Pike's Peak, where Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write "America, the Beautiful". Green fees from $100 to $235; roundtrip rail tickets from $27 to $33 per person. (www.cograilway.com)