When Christian Strobel, a hotel developer, took a hiatus from the working world to motorcycle around Southeast Asia, he actually found himself avoiding hotels.

Turns out, staying in a room by yourself in a strange city is awfully lonely. But at a hostel, where all space is common space and everyone is happy to chat over breakfast or beers, loneliness is hard to come by. It’s a similar vibe to that of a mountain base camp: gathered beneath a summit, guides and sherpas offer expert advice and mingle with the soon-to-be adventurers, all eager to discuss their expeditions. Social barriers break down, new friendships bloom, excitement is shared.

“That gets lost a little bit [on work trips] because people take themselves very seriously at hotels,” Strobel says.

Not at Basecamp Boulder. With the new adventure-themed hotel at Arapahoe Avenue and 20th Street, Strobel aims to serve professionals visiting for work, but who are looking for something a little more playful than the Marriott experience. The decor employs youthful, funny-because-it’s-true humor, with artwork like a watercolor illustration that pokes fun at locals, ottomans made from coolers plastered with local brewery and outdoor gear stickers, and handlebars mounted on a wooden plaque—a whimsical (and suitable) take on an antler wall hanging. Priced at about 40 percent less than the swanky St. Julien, Basecamp blends the comfort of hotel-quality rooms (housing one to four individuals, never bunk style) with shared spaces that create opportunities for conversations and connections.

Case in point: The hotel wraps around an indoor-outdoor lounge area, lined with cafeteria-style tables (perfect for posting up with a laptop or chatting over the day’s plans) and flanked by ping-pong tables on one side and a bouldering wall on the other. Steps away, the deck features a fire pit and offers s’mores kits to purchase for $2.

“It’s rare for adults to just talk to people randomly unless there’s alcohol involved or something to break the ice,” Strobel says. But add bouldering, table tennis, or s’mores to the mix and people get talking.

Catering to the active individuals the city attracts, Basecamp Boulder also features a workout room that houses stationary bikes equipped with screens for live-streamed spin classes, weights, and yoga mats set up opposite mounted iPads playing YogaGlo classes (bluetooth headphones for cable-free instruction included). And after a long day of work and play, a sauna and 12-person jacuzzi will help guests recover.

To fuel up in the morning, the hotel has a small coffee bar but no restaurant. Locally made breakfast burritos and sandwiches, however, are available for purchase. For those inclined to dine out, Boulder’s acclaimed restaurants and breweries (plus seasonal activities and events) can be found via Basecamp’s complimentary, carefully curated pocket guides—the next best thing to the advice of a trusted sherpa.

Haley Gray
Haley Gray
Haley Gray is a Boulder-based freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in 5280, Roads and Kingdoms, Boulder Magazine, and the Albuquerque Journal.