Vail travel feature: Culturally inspired accomodations at The Art hotel in Denver | VailDaily.com

Vail travel feature: Culturally inspired accomodations at The Art hotel in Denver

Amiee White Beazley
Special to the Daily

i had 24 hours to spend in Denver, and I was determined to make the most of it. So I booked a room at The Art, a hotel located in Denver's museum district, between downtown and the art district on Santa Fe. Situated near the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Public Library, Colorado History Center and Civic Center Park, the 165-room hotel creates a stay that doubles as a cultural journey.

I pulled up to The Art hotel and was immediately greeted by a dazzling untitled work by Leo Villareal. Set into the ceiling of the hotel's porte cochere are 22,000 white LED nodes, a changing, blinking display controlled by software to regulate the light's opacity, speed and scale.

Cultural anchor

Built on a triangular lot, the hotel, designed by architect Guadalupe Cantu, of Davis Partnership Architects (the same firm that worked with Daniel Libeskind on the Frederic C. Hamilton Building addition to the Denver Art Museum), is itself a piece of modern art. The hotel features floor-to-ceiling windows, an outdoor terrace lounge that overlooks the city, public gathering spaces and a contemporary art collection of more than 50 pieces placed throughout the building.

The Art offers free self-guided and guided tours of the property's art collection, and I jumped at the chance to be shown works by artists such as Sam Francis, Mary Ehrin, Frank Gehry and Clifford Still, to name just a few. The artwork completes every part of the guest experience, from the arrival under those twinkling lights to the galleries, meeting rooms, hallways and inside every guest room. Favorite pieces of mine included a video installation called "Anatomy Lessons" by Lars Kremer in the elevator and a bronze horse structure that looks like delicate driftwood called "Otter" by Deborah Butterfield.

Speaking of horses, fans of "Mustang" (or, as my family calls it, "the Big Blue Horse") at Denver International Airport will revel in the original color lithograph of this now-famous sculpture by the artist himself, Luis Jimenez. The hotel's art collection was curated by Dianne Vanderlip, former curator of modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum.

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Art and exercise

My art tour didn't end there. The hotel also hosts an urban art run, which takes place every Friday morning with advanced reservations. A hotel staff member takes guests on a 3-mile loop through downtown Denver's public art pieces, many of which were funded through Denver's "1 percent for art" ordinance, which reaps money for public art through state-funded building projects. My guide and I passed 13 pieces on the list, but saw up to 17 pieces that had been moved or newly installed, such as "16th Street Mall Rattlesnake" by I.M. Pei and "Lao Tzu" by Mark di Suvero. The Art Run and the hotel's new Art Ride, which provides guests with custom-painted bikes to tour art in the city, can also be self-guided.

That evening, after a long soak in my suite's oversized tub, I went downstairs to the hotel's restaurant, Fire, and joined the social hour from 3 to 6 p.m. on the Fire Terrace and Lounge. I sat near the warmth of the outdoor fireplace and sipped a Jackson Pollock gin craft cocktail created by the restaurant's lead mixologist, Kyle Wollenahupt.

Dinner at Fire, The Art's signature restaurant, was even better than anticipated. There are times when you choose a hotel restaurant for mere convenience, but dining at Fire can be a choice squarely rooted in the excellent execution of the food. Chef Chris Jakubiec keeps the menu small and succinct, every dish done well. I doubled down on seafood and started with grilled octopus and fennel, followed by a plate of grilled diver scallops with a braised celery, apple and truffle emulsion. Topping off dinner was a melting chocolate sphere accompanied by orange sorbet.

All within a few blocks

After a quiet sleep, the next day, I opened the shades of my room to nature's masterpiece, a crystal-clear Colorado bluebird day. The city was already in full swing, and the expansive view from the Mountain View Suite beckoned me home.

Following a brief workout at The Art's small but well-appointed gym (there is also CorePower yoga on the terrace), I walked next door to see the new art exhibit at the Denver Museum of Art. "Star Wars and the Power of the Costume," which runs through April, is an exciting and personal look at the creative design process by way of 70 original "Star Wars" costumes and 300 artifacts from Skywalker Ranch.

I stopped for lunch at DAM's elegant cafe, Palletes, a Kevin Taylor Restaurant, which is featuring a "Star Wars" themed menu, before grabbing a cold-pressed juice at Mad Greens for my drive into the mountains. Besides the Art Run, I never had a need to leave the surrounding blocks of The Art hotel, all of my city and cultural cravings met.

Amiee White Beazley writes about travel for the Aspen Times Weekly. Reach her at awb@awbeazley.com or follow her @awbeazley1.

If you go …

• Mile-High Culture Pass: Receive admission to seven of the city’s attractions (museums, zoo, botanical gardens) all for the “Mile High” price of $52.80 (a savings of more than $25) or three attractions of your choice for $25 (a savings of $12).

• Clifford Still Museum: One of the most important American artists of the 20th century and an originator of the Abstract Expressionism movement. 1250 Bannock St.

• Colorado History Center: Offering access to cultural and heritage resources, programs and events. 1200 Broadway.

• Denver Art Museum: “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” exhibit is on view through April 2. General admission to the Denver Art Museum is free to all youth ages 18 and under every day

• The Art: Hotel rates begin at $289 per night. http://www.thearthotel.com.