The historic Airedale building at 20th and Lawrence (pictured at right) has been a lot of things in its century-plus lifetime—a hotel and saloon, a brothel, and an adult bookstore and peep show. Most recently, it has sat empty and condemned. But next week, the first level is due to open to the public as Ophelia’s, restaurateur Justin Cucci’s new bar and music venue. And on July 10, the top two stories will be restored to their original purpose—hosting out-of-towners who want to experience the real Mile High City.
Opening a hostel has been a longtime dream for Indiana native Chad Fish, who fell in love with the communal, affordable lodging model when backpacking through Europe. When he moved to Denver, he noticed a void in the market. “I found that you couldn’t really stay downtown for under $150 a night without giving up safety, comfort, or friendliness,” Fish says. “A lot of travelers today want to stay where the action is, but they’d rather spend their money on restaurants and events than where they sleep.”
Fish put together a business plan, got hooked up with SCORE Denver (a nonprofit organization that provides counseling and mentorship for small-business owners), and began searching for investors—and the perfect space. Three years later, the result of all his work—including a complete overhaul of the Airedale building’s upper floors to bring them up to code and into the 21st century, design-wise—is Hostel Fish, a 7,800-square-foot example of the growing “poshtel” trend. A few details Fish has planned that will put the “posh” in this hostel, which will sleep around 72 to 88 guests for $45 per bed, per night (two private rooms, which have their own bathrooms, will run closer to $100 to $150):
- A staffed full bar, designed by Fin Art, and a communal kitchen
- High-end mattresses and privacy screens
- Adjustable thermostats in each room
- A giant skylight (Colorado’s ample sunshine will filter to the second story through a railed opening in the floor)
- High-tech security cameras and female-only rooms
- In-room lockers (potentially with device-charging stations inside) and fold-down desks
- Individually themed rooms, designed by various contributors (LuLu’s Furniture & Decor and Fish’s mom among them)
- A breakfast bar with coffee, muffins, and the like
Fish also hopes to encourage guests to experience Denver like the locals do, with touches such as a giant map of Denver near the check-in desk that will highlight B-Cycle stations and staffers’ favorite restaurants; organized pub crawls; a “responsible-420-friendly” patio; and staffers (including DU hospitality students) who are passionate about the city and can point guests to unique happenings like the Denver Cruiser Ride. “I had tried couch-surfing, and it was such a cool way to stay with a local and experience a city like you actually lived there, but obviously, a lot of people aren’t comfortable with that model,” Fish says. “We want to offer that kind of experience; it’s like staying with a friend downtown. We’ll be able to tell you which pub has the best Thursday night karaoke or where you should go for a breakfast burrito.”
Editor’s Note, 6/25/15: The grand opening of Hostel Fish was pushed back from its original date in June to July 10. The article has been updated to reflect this change.
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