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One wall of the Magnolia Denver's renovated lobby is adorned with a collection of vintage safety-deposit boxes, a nod to the building’s original tenant, First National Bank. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Denver, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

One of Denver’s First Boutique Hotels Gets A Fresh New Look

A four-year renovation of downtown’s Magnolia Denver honors the 1911 building’s roots while enticing today’s travelers with stylish modern decor.

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With hip new hotels popping up throughout downtown Denver these days, it’s easy to forget about the city’s original boutique hotels. But not so fast: Classic properties from the Oxford Hotel to the Hotel Teatro have been investing in multimillion-dollar renovations, each designed to keep pace with a new generation of travelers who expect fashion-forward design and cutting-edge technology, in addition to a chocolate on their pillow.

The latest property to debut a new look is downtown’s Magnolia Denver, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, which just completed a four-year overhaul of its guest rooms and suites, meeting spaces, ballroom, and public spaces including the lobby, fitness room, and bar.

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The hook here isn’t a celebrity designer or hipster food hall, but the building’s role in Denver’s history. Located in the Central Business District on 17th Street—once known as the “Wall Street of the West”—the building first opened in 1911 as a First National Bank (Colorado’s oldest continuously operating bank); a now-sealed underground tunnel connecting it to Union Station ensured the safe transport of currency from train car to bank vault.

After operating as a bank until 1981, the building sat vacant until 1995, when it was purchased by the Holtze family—which still operates Stout Street Hospitality, the Denver-based management company for the seven Magnolia locations in five states—and transformed into an extended-stay, all-suite hotel. (Soon after, it became home base for the FBI during the Oklahoma City bombing trial in 1996 and 1997.)

Denver-based Oz Architecture played up the building’s past by restoring many of its original design details—elevators and phone booths, terracotta facade, brass light fixtures—and adding new nods to early-20th-century design, including custom carpeting inspired by an antique Art Deco floor grate, and an eye-catching installation of vintage safety-deposit boxes on a lobby wall. Now that the dust has settled, we took a top-to-bottom tour; here, a few of our favorite reimagined spaces:

magnolia harry's
At Harry’s—a newly expanded lobby-level bar serving drinks, breakfast, lunch, and small plates—new wood, marble, brass, and leather finishes create a rich, clubby vibe that feels right at home in a former bank building. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Denver, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
magnolia gallery wall
A gallery wall in Harry’s bar features historical Denver photos alongside images of the Holtze family—which opened the Magnolia Denver hotel in 1995—including a photo of World War I veteran Harry Holtze Sr., for whom Harry’s is named. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Denver, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
Magnolia ballroom
The Magnolia Ballroom, located across 17th Street from the hotel in what was formerly the lobby of the United States National Bank building, is the only street-level ballroom in Denver. Its bold new carpeting is a custom pattern inspired by an antique Art Deco floor grate; the glass atrium ceiling is original. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Denver, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
magnolia guest room
The first phase of the renovation focused on adding 51 standard guest rooms by splitting some of the hotel’s existing suites into two rooms. Still spacious, the reimagined rooms—some as large as 400 square feet—feature large original windows, roomy work areas, and oversize ensuite bathrooms with garden tubs or walk-in showers. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Denver, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
magnolia suite
Ranging in size from 550–700 square feet, the Magnolia’s one-bedroom suites are some of the largest in town, with a living room, kitchenette, separate living and sleeping areas, and a private bathroom. Pops of bright sky blue punctuate a soft, neutral color palette. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Denver, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
magnolia presidential suite
Located on the 12th floor, the stylish new Presidential Suite offers two bedrooms and bathrooms and a kitchen in addition to light-filled living and dining spaces. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Denver, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
magnolia meeting level lobby
The hotel’s 11,000-plus square feet of meeting room space was designed as “an ode to the rich history of the city and building by incorporating rich architectural detail and warm, intimate finishes,” Oz Architecture’s Laura Hilpipre says of the brass and wood tones that contrast with crisp white trim. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Denver, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
magnolia vault
During the renovation, the building’s original vault was discovered behind a wall, and now provides an eye-catching focal point in the Glenarm meeting room. To date, no one has been able to open the vault’s broken lock, and so its contents remain a mystery. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Denver, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

Magnolia Denver, 818 17th St.; 303-607-9000

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