How to beat an alcohol ban (and get seriously addicted to oysters) in Denver: The Oxford Hotel has it all!

“Do you know why the hallways are so wide?” our guide asked us as we were shown around the spectacular and seriously luxurious Oxford Hotel in Denver, Colorado this weekend. We shook our heads, and then learnt that it’s because they were designed specifically to accommodate two ladies walking side by side in their gargantuan frocks, back when this LoDo Denver hotel threw open its jazzy wrought iron doors in 1891.

specialsHow cool is that? I can’t imagine a hotel being designed quite the same way these days. Designing anything with the width of a woman in mind is probably playing with fire.

Wandering the halls of the Oxford is a bit like going on one of those adventure/mystery tours. There’s so much history to this place! The antique furniture, doors with real locks and keys, and the behemoth ballroom and conference space that was once a stop for staff, horses and carriages meant I couldn’t help but imagine myself in a giant skirt, swishing through the place, calling for my husband in his top hat and tails… who probably would have been squirrelled away in The Cruise Room back then, quite frankly.

Cruis Room barAnother cool fact about this hotel is that The Cruise Room (the flashy red downstairs bar featuring some rather controversial Art Deco paintings) was the first bar to open at the end of prohibition in 1933. It remains a sort of hidden pocket, a time capsule that stops the clock as you sit on the round stools sipping cocktails like some flapper girl with dreams of taking the world by storm… if only you could tear yourself away from the martinis. Seriously. The exotic martinis here are all made with fresh juices and vintage mixes.

cocktailI had some sort of rhubarb liquor and ginger thing… to be honest I can’t actually remember what it was because I was too busy taking photos of “the best cocktail ever” for Facebook 😉

McCormick’s Fish House (Denver’s finest seafood restaurant, don’t you know) was calling for dinner and it was here in this cosy, candlelit, wooden-panelled homage to tradition that we dined on the freshest oysters… three different kinds… to start, as well as the Lump Crab Cake with fire roasted corn salsa and Maine Lobster Bisque, which was quite possibly the most incredible thing I’ve eaten in a long time. Think creamy, lumpy, er… lobstery, with just the right amount of seasoning to warm your innards on a cold night, far, far, faaaaaaar away from the ocean. For our mains we shared the Beef Medallions & King Crab and the Live Maine Lobster with sides of creamed spinach and the kind of mashed potatoes you seriously only ever eat in your dreams, usually.seafoodI should divulge… check out the menu for this place. It’s a drool-inducing affair on its own. I lived in Dubai, I ate good seafood. I dined on the finest steaks in Buenos Aires too, last year, but I swear none of it was as good as the stuff McCormick’s served up!

Featured on Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List 2013 as one of the “World’s Best Places to Stay,” The Oxford Hotel, right next to Union Station, will impress even the most seasoned of travellers (ahem). There are 80 guest rooms and each one is slightly different. The ridiculously comfy cloud-like beds are of the ilk that make you want to abandon all previous plans of new-city-exploration (courtesy of the free Cadillac Escalade car service to downtown Denver locations within a two mile radius) and lounge in your room all day. Apparently, there was a time when the place had shared bathrooms, but don’t worry, you get your own en suite these days.

Did I mention the claw foot bathtubs, by the way? Oh yes…

LFhq1go8ppSy5cstRUbeSkKLxRM76xEAoW_9eBLZttoThey’re more fun when you’re naked and covered in bubbles – just sayin’.

Back to the food. We had barely recovered from the feast the night before when McCormick’s was bringing eggs benedict to the breakfast table. Check out the menu here! I chose the Southern style, served with a sausage patty, a warm buttermilk biscuit and some of the best little roasted potatoes this side of my mum’s Sunday dinner special in England. My friends had the Northwest Crab Cake, featuring pan-fried Westport Dungeness Crab and shrimp cakes topped with Old Bay Hollandaise, and the Greek Frittata with artichoke hearts, Bermuda onions, sun dried tomatoes, wild mushrooms and feta cheese. It came with a plate of warm pita bread and chopped fresh tomatoes which looked equally amazing. Mmmm. Probably one of… if not the best breakfast I’ve had in Colorado so far!

It was hard to leave The Oxford Hotel, especially with its Christmas lights all sparkling in the lobby and Santa and his elves, plus complimentary fruit and decorated cookies all urging us into the Christmas spirit. Aaaah, bliss! Oh, and the roaring fireplace is the only open fireplace to exist in a Denver hotel, so get down there, get in front of it and have yourself a merry little Christmas.treePS: I got a heads up that the Oxford’s sister hotel, The Crawford Hotel at Union Station is opening July 2014 and from the photos and plans, looks just as fabulous. Keep your eyes peeled for more news!

HEADING DOWN TO DENVER?

McCormick’s is open for lunch between 11:00am-4:00pm and dinner from 5:00pm-10:00pm and until 11:00pm on Friday and Saturday nights. (303)-825-1107.

The Cruise Room is open between 
4:30pm and 11:45pm Sunday to Thursday, and 
4:30pm- 12:45am Friday and Saturday. (303)-825-1107.

Check out the coverage coming soon on Kodomo.com. And for now, it’s kisses from me, and Santa xsanta