Let’s be honest. Denver was a place we had chosen on our 2 week road trip in America as the starting place purely based on the good prices of the flights offered by Iceland Air from Amsterdam. Apart from visiting the Columbine Memorial and a trip to see the beautiful Union Station, we had no other interests from the city centre. But sightseeing was still on our list of things to do, even if it meant just exploring the city one step at a time!
Sleeping Arrangements – AAE 11th Avenue Hotel & Hostel*
Lets start with where you should not be sleeping in Denver. First impressions were not so high, since arriving at night and checking in to what we expected was a good hotel. The reviews seemed alright and the online photos showed rooms that looked average which is what we were okay with for two nights, but once we were checked in we had realised it wasn’t even of average standards.
- No airco, just some large industrial fans constantly blowing the musty air through the corridors non-stop.
- Floors uneven, and not just a little bit.
- No natural light (bedroom window covered and broken).
- Only one working toilet on the first night, shared between at least 50 rooms.
- Community room was really dirty and unwelcoming.
- Other guests seemed more like local homeless people, walking around undressed and very slobbish. We sure didn’t see anyone else like us with a camera or a map!
- Double bed more like a large single bed (also broken).
- No lift (didn’t bother us too much but saw others had problems)
From reviews, this hotel had 3 stars and many people were positive about the location and price of the accommodation, as well as friendly service. We somewhat agree with this, but feel that European standards would not have given this place 3 stars! If you are ever in Denver, we recommend that you pay a bit more and find a better place. Especially if like us you have a long flight before you arrive and in need of some comfort and cleanliness!
*This is based on our stay August 2017
Denver City Center
Besides the accommodation, Denver city center seemed very business focused with buildings being only work related, with housing obviously outside of the city center. Walking along the main street during the day towards Union Station we saw tourists, workers, locals and homeless people. By dark, all workers, locals and tourists were gone, leaving behind only homeless people. It didn’t feel safe or welcoming at all. We didn’t experience anywhere that was ‘gezellig’ for an evening drink like you can experience in many European cities, and preferred to go back to the awful accommodation instead.
We did eat out both nights at some local places and also spent an evening at the cinema which made it a bit more enjoyable, which was at least nice to try out those large cinema reclining chairs in America!
Thinking back now, it still shocks me the amount of homeless people that were on the streets when it became dark. We could only hope that their situation improves and that help is offered.
Taking the metro/train line C and a local bus from Littleton also gave us a better experience of Denver, seeing neighbourhoods and life outside of the business city. We arrived at the Columbine Memorial within an hour and it was very touching. Walking there we went past a a beautiful lake towards the school where it happened. The original library had been destroyed and a new building and outside area had been created. Dead flowers took place next to the names of the 10 students and 1 teacher who died in the incident.
This was very pretty and clean, filled with local (and expensive) boutiques and restaurants. We never bought anything, but it sure was the most welcoming place that we had experienced in Denver.
There were many other things to do in Denver but nothing that really interested us personally. If we had more time planned in Denver we would have totally headed north into the nature away from city. The mountains would have definitely been on our list to explore!
Leaving Denver after two nights felt good, with our excitement rising as we were boarding the Amtrak train to Salt Lake City, our next road trip destination! Between Denver and Salt Lake City the Amtrak travels through the Rocky Mountains, an amazing route following the river and spotting some hikers through the trees.
We’ve made a separate detailed post about our Amtrak experiences and journey here!
Have you been to Denver before? Maybe you have some new tips for us and things to visit next time – Let us know in the comments!