Credit: Limelight Denver

At Limelight Hotel Denver, Exploring the Heart of the City Comes Easy

Denver Epic Stays
by Nickolaus Hines Apr 11, 2024

When it comes to real estate, there’s no more cliche phrase than location, location, location. For good reason, but especially when it comes to hotels. Limelight Hotel Denver — on one edge of Union Station, near some of Denver’s best bars and restaurants, and across the street from the bridge over the South Platte River into the trendy LoHi neighborhood — is the perfect example of why.

On a recent weekend, my wife, Heather, and I took a staycation at Limelight, just a quick 10 minute drive from our home in Cherry Creek. Being in a spot where we could walk to some of our favorite spots, overeat at new-to-us restaurants, and take a morning stroll to Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art made it easy to explore a part of Denver that, for many travelers, is the gateway to the city.

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Credit: Limelight Denver

Yet we often found the hotel itself stealing the show. All four of the Limelight Hotels (other locations include Aspen and Snowmass in Colorado, and Ketchum, Idaho) have a strong connection to the local art scene. At the Denver location, that’s shown through a collection of original art by 32 local artists that the hotel commissioned.

Limelight Denver’s developer, Continuum Partners, owns the land where the Museum of Contemporary Art sits, and a partnership formed from the connection. In addition to the art guests can take in in the common areas of the hotel, they also have complimentary access to the museum by showing their wood Limelight room key. The museum is well curated with striking pieces across three floors and a rooftop cafe bar that has outdoor seating with 360 views — a must for art lovers and just a five minute walk from Limelight.

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The rooms at Limelight Denver

Credit: Limelight Denver

Limelight is pet-friendly with 200 rooms. All have floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on either Union Station, downtown Denver, or the mountains.

The modern exposed concrete in the rooms is warmed by pine headboards that wrap up one wall to cover the ceiling around the bed. In our corner room on the tenth floor, wood panels separated the hallway and bathroom from the sleeping area, the bed facing a window overlooking Denver Millennium Bridge.

Credit: Limelight Denver

The bedside Bluetooth speaker has a matching wood front panel. There is as much art as there are mirrors in the room, and a yoga mat sits in the closet under a small, colorful depiction of the sun setting behind the Rockies. The well-stocked minibar highlights local businesses, from the Boulder Canyon chips to the bottle of Laws Whiskey House Four Grain Bourbon — one of Denver’s finest distilleries that highlights Colorado grains from small farms.

Credit: Nickolaus Hines

In the large bathroom, a freestanding soaking tub big enough for two sits in front of a frosted glass window that lets in Denver’s famous sunshine.

Dining at Citizen Rail, Limelight Denver’s on-site restaurant

While spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants within walking distance, guests just have to go downstairs for an incredible meal.

From our seat for dinner at Citizen Rail, we could see the open kitchen and the wood-fired grill. On the side opposite the entrance, a dry-aging room filled with charcuterie and house-butchered lamb from regional livestock, as well as venison, duck, beef, and other meats.

We picked a bottle of Chinon from the long wine list after an aperitif of mezcal and rosé — one of a handful of Citizen Rail’s elevated beer-and-a-shot happy hour pairings. As the Chinon decanted, hamachi crudo and octopus were brought to the table, followed by a cauliflower and sunchoke velouté and charred romaine split in half and covered in parmesan and Caesar dressing. Wild seabass with foraged mushrooms and artichoke and an 18-ounce bone-in ribeye with taleggio sauce completed the meal.

The one-page dinner menu lets the ingredients and the grill speak for themselves. The equal-length brunch menu (Citizen Rail has been listed by Denver publications as one of the top brunch spots in the city) features some of the same highlight ingredients, with options like coal-fired mussels and a fancy brisket-and-short-rib burger that can be topped with avocado or paté.

You don’t have to be a Limelight guest to enjoy a meal at Citizen Rail, though staying at the hotel does include a daily $10 credit toward any meal.

Exploring the area around Limelight Denver

Credit: Nickolaus Hines

Shortly after checking in, we walked past the train station to Ghost Donkey. This temple to all things tequila, mezcal, and other agave spirits is an offshoot of the now-closed, award-winning New York City location. It’s hard to find a better selection of agave spirits in Denver. Neat pours of rare liquors are served the traditional way with a side of salt and an orange slice. The cocktails — don’t sleep on the frozen stealth margarita, the best take on a frozen drink I’ve had in nearly a decade of writing about drinks — are matched by a short but filling menu of tacos and nachos.

It’s a den of a bar that I try and make it to whenever I’m in the area, but far from alone in notable places to stop for a drink or food. Tavernetta, led by James Beard Awards nominated chef Cody Cheetham, is in the immediate area around the train station, as is the James Beard Awards finalist Sunday Vinyl, which is focused on small plates, wine, and music.

In the warmer months, one of Denver’s farmer’s markets sets up on the front side of the main Union Station building and across from the city’s first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing.

Slightly farther out, but still within walking distance, is Coors Field and the Dairy Block. At the latter, you can find award-winning beers at Denver’s Westbound & Down location, regional spirits like a gin made with alpine botanicals at Deviation Distilling, and a long list of elevated classic cocktails from the deep menu at the nationally recognized Run For the Roses. Or head the other way across the river for cocktails using only house-made liquors and liqueurs at The Family Jones, beer at Prost or Denver Beer Co., and fine-dining Mexican food at Alma Fonda Fina.

And that’s really just the start. It pays off to be in the middle of it all, whether you’re staying for a night or a week.

Getting to the Limelight Denver

Credit: Limelight Denver

Denver International Airport is the one of the busiest airports in the world. From there, it’s an easy train ride into Union Station that delivers you nearly to Limelight Denver’s doorstep.

Unless you plan to head to the mountains, you don’t need a car to get around. Limelight has a Tesla that will drop you off within a mile, and it’s easy to walk or scooter anywhere in the surrounding area. Some of the city’s most popular areas and attractions — including the hopping RiNo Art District, Meow Wolf, and City Park — are a short Uber away.

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