I’m normally not a hotel snob, happy to stay wherever there is a roof over my head and a comfortable bed beneath me. I love to splurg a little here and there, but that generally means that I stayed at a place where breakfast was included in the price. But the complimentary night I spent at the Brown Palace, an historic luxury hotel and spa in downtown Denver, changed much of that and set the bar quite a bit higher.
For the better part of the last seven years, I have driven past the Brown Palace during my daily commute. From conversations with friends and coworkers, I knew it was regarded as the place to stay for those visiting Denver or just looking to get away for a weekend in town. And knowing this, I wanted to stay there, more than anywhere else, for its fantastic history, its elegance, and for the simple desire of being able to say I did so.
I arrived early in the afternoon, doubtful my room would yet be available. But, much to my surprise, it was ready and they were happy to have me; I was greeted with a chorus of sirs and pleases and thank yous. I felt like I was instantly transported to a different income bracket and regarded in a totally different manner. And that didn’t fade the whole time I was there, regardless of my shorts and Star Wars t-shirt attire. Instead, I was regarded as a very valuable and much appreciated guest by all of the Brown’s employees, none of who knew I’d be writing about my experience.
During a special Twitter event I won a coupon for a free dinner for two at the Brown’s Ship Tavern, one of several amazing restaurants at the property.. So, no sooner after dropping my bags off in my room, did I head back down to the lobby to meet a friend for lunch. And it was quite simply fantastic; the service was a little slow, likely because the waiter knew I was using the coupon that included gratuity, but the quality and flavors of the food more than made up for it.
My friend and I departed our separate ways with uncomfortably, albeit happily, full bellies. And so it was with pleasureful discomfort that I crawled on top of my bed and caught a quick nap before partaking in an historical tour of the Brown Palace; the tours are complimentary for all hotel guests. My eyes fluttered while I curled up in bed, waiting for my tour, listening to the gentle sounds of a harpist’s strumming emanating from the lobby during the afternoon tea; in the early hours of the evening a pianist entertains guests.
The tour ended in the Eisenhower Presidential Suite, one of three presidential suites at the Brown Palace, with the question being asked to our tour guide about whether or not the hotel is haunted. She made reference earlier in the tour of strange occurrences happening on occasion throughout the Brown Palace, so the curiosity was gnawing at many of the tour guests by this point.
“Oh yes,” Debra answered. “There are certainly things that happen throughout the hotel that can’t be explained, but it’s all over the hotel – the ghosts don’t necessarily haunt specific rooms.”
And then, as if on cue, the large framed picture hanging above the bed in the suite fell with a loud bang and a thud. Everyone in the Eisenhower’s sitting room jumped and turned their heads toward the bedroom door. Some even ran in to see what happened; somehow – whether it be due to a nail coming out of the wall, a wire snapping, or the paranormal – the picture fell straight down behind the bed’s headboard at an oddly opportune moment.
Prior to my arrival, I had read local author Dick Kreck’s Murder at the Brown Palace: A True Story of Seduction and Betrayal, so I had anticipated something ghostly to occur. After all, such an horrific act generally leaves a mark. And I expected to notice something at the Brown Palace as I have at other places. Yet, I experienced no such thing, not even a reference to the murder during the tour, while I was at the hotel with the exception of the falling picture – which could be explained in any number of ways based on your level of belief.
I played the role of tour guide myself at the end of the tour, mentioning the murder on the way back down to the lobby with a small group of guests crowded around me to get the details. And where it ended, still without a reference to the murder, was in the small lounge area that was once the bar where the incident occurred. I reclined on the sofa at the base of the escalators later that evening, imagining the events Kreck recounts, with not even a glimmer of goosebumps running up my arms.
The alcohol I had consumed during dinner and the football game in the Ship Tavern was making me increasingly drowsy, so I finally adjourned to my room. I bypassed the complimentary turn down service by placing the Do Not Disturb sign on my door before crawling into bed, flicking on the television and tuning in the end of the game in the process.
The bed was just right, and albeit a little small, the room comfortable with a ceiling fan blowing above my bed. I could not sleep – it was early in the evening and noise from the lobby was still bouncing up the giant atrium to my room. I could sleep until check out the next day, so it did not bother me. Instead, I enjoyed the muffled sounds of people enjoying a Saturday night at one of the best properties in all of Colorado.
Comfortably rested, I awoke the next morning ready for the day. It began in fine fashion, too, with the option of a drop-down shower head in the bathroom. So rarely do I see the option – a normal shower head is also available – to have the water fall straight down on me, that I was almost giddy with anticipation to get up and into the shower. I suppose it is a good thing, too, since I had to take a second shower in the morning; instead of lotion, I accidentally grabbed the conditioner bottle after my morning shave.