The Oxford: Denver’s Oldest Historic Hotel

The Oxford has won its share of accolades and guests, from ambassadors to Lauren Bacall has stayed here discovering its bygone era charms.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved

DENVER, Oct. 25, 2015 − The year was 1891. Benjamin Harrison was president, Thomas Edison received a patent for the motion picture camera, railroads were whisking people from coast to coast and in Denver the Oxford Hotel opened its doors to an age of Victorian opulence.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved
@Ron Stern All rights reserved

Located just a block from Union Station, the Oxford was constructed by Adolph Zang, owner of the Zang Brewing Company, the largest producer of alcohol in the Rocky Mountain region prior to Prohibition. Owing to the influence of the railroad, Denver had expanded from its origins as a small mining town to become the third largest city in the West. Zang believed that the city needed a first-class hotel to match its growing status, and had the five-story brick Oxford Hotel constructed conveniently just a block away from Union Station.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved
@Ron Stern All rights reserved

The Oxford was one of the most modern hotels of its day. Denver’s leading architect at the time, Frank E. Edbrooke, who also planned the famous Brown Palace one year later, was chosen for the task. Edbrooke incorporated state-of-the-art innovations into his design, such as a dedicated power plant, efficient steam heating and electric and gas lighting. He also created a sensation— the “vertical railway” or elevator to allow guests a grand view of Denver from the upper floors.

The hotel’s décor was no less impressive with antique oak furniture, marble floors, stained glass lighting fixtures and ornate chandeliers. The property had many features that would be considered standard in four or five star hotels today: its own dining rooms, barbershop, library, pharmacy and Western Union office. Of course, Adolph Zang’s influence was reflected in the saloon with its own beer— the Fritz Imperial.

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Like many historic hotels, the Oxford has had renovations over the years while still preserving its age-old charm. Room sizes range from superior (250 square feet) up to the presidential suite (700 square feet) with various amenities such as French and English antiques, claw-foot bathtubs and Chinese silk curtains. All of the modern conveniences are there, including flat-screen televisions, complimentary Wi-Fi and a complete spa and fitness center adjacent to the hotel.

Today, walking through the hotel is like taking a stroll back in time to a more genteel era. Mosaic tiled floors, Western art and a blending of old and new design elements all can make you believe that it is 1892 again. I liked the look and feel of the classical Victorian elements while my wife enjoyed the more modern blending of art deco décor.

@Ron Stern All rights reserved
@Ron Stern All rights reserved

Located off of the lobby, the Cruise Room Martini Bar was opened the day after Prohibition was repealed in 1933, and I’m sure it had plenty of business. Run by the adjacent McCormick’s Fish House, The Cruise Room is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Bathed in red light with an art deco flair, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a cool libation while enjoying some Frank Sinatra.

Right across the hall, McCormick’s Fish House and Bar has been a lower downtown favorite among locals for more than 20 years, serving some of the freshest seafood you will find outside of the East or West Coasts. During happy hour (twice a day, seven days a week), McCormick’s offers items for as a little as $3.


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If you’re not planning to come by train, then your car will suit you well. However, once you park, you probably won’t need it again until you check out. The 16th Street Mall is only a block away, and free buses will take you up and down the corridor past a host of restaurants, bookstores and retail shopping. Coors Field (Colorado Rockies) and the Denver Performing Arts Center are also located close to the hotel and are accessible by bus or walking.

The Oxford has won its share of accolades, including being listed as one of the Top 50 U.S. Hotels for 2011 by Condé Naste Traveler. Everyone from ambassadors to Lauren Bacall has stayed her,e and you too can be a part of the continuing history of the Oxford once you have discovered its bygone era charms.


The Oxford Hotel

FTC Disclosure:  Costs associated with accommodations and food were sponsored by the Oxford Hotel and McCormick’s Fish House and Bar.

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Ron Stern
Ron Stern, aka: The Global Gumshoe is passionate about excellence in hospitality and tourism. He writes full features with a focus on luxury, cuisine, hotels, resorts, tourism and travel destinations. His articles have appeared in national and regional magazines such as Shape, Cruise, Frequent Flyer, AAA Motorist, Visit Los Cabos Guide, Destinations West, Key Biscayne and La Jolla Today. Other articles have been published in newspapers (print and online) such as The Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sun Sentinel, Bismarck Tribune, The Jamaican Observer, the Coloradoan and travel trade magazines. Ron’s other contributions have been noted by PBS, Mobil Travel Guides and his photography has been used extensively by entities such as tourism boards and public relations firms. He has traveled extensively and is the author of five books. Ron's motto: "uncovering the sole of travel" humorously captures his spirit of walking the world travel beat as a gumshoe detective, always looking for a story.