If, as some people say, The Source Hotel in Denver, Colorado is to be the model for hotels in the future, hold on to your jackhammer! Concrete—in the form of exposed columns, walls, ceilings and floors—is the primary material of the building. Apparently, concrete has been used as a finish since the 1920s, and it’s the world’s most widely used man-made material. It must be making a comeback in hotels because I’ve seen it recently in other downtown Denver hotels like the Indigo and Kimpton’s Hotel Born.
“Exposed concrete is modern architecture,” said Stephen Dynia, the architect of The Source Hotel. “Because it’s in an industrial area, the owner wanted raw concrete to highlight the industrial sensibility.”
The industrial area Dynia mentions is River North—RiNo—a once rough manufacturing neighborhood just north of the city of Denver. The hotel sits next to its sister property, The Source Marketplace (same owners), housed in a former 19th century iron works plant. Developers are gentrifying the area that is fast becoming an urban hot spot for art and artisans, restaurants and nightlife.
From valet parking off street level, we enter the lobby where check-in staff offers us a beer from a tap at the desk. Steps away behind glass we could see the shiny tanks of New Belgium’s small batch brewery, the first in Denver producing experimental beers for the test market.
A brewery in a hotel? Interesting concept.
Up the staircase, another surprise awaits. An enormous Market Hall with a dozen or so vendors selling everything from coffee to craft items. Indeed, it’s the ultimate hotel gift shop!
Rooms at The Source
If you look at the hotel from the outside, you notice that all 100 guest rooms have windows—lots of windows. “It’s another reinforcement of the sense that Denver is right outside,” said Dynia.
Windows on the mountain-view side give sweeping panoramas of the west while windows with the city view are functioning garage doors.
Yep, it’s more of that industrial element Dynia incorporated.
Once we figured out how to work the buttons, our garage door slid along its rails to rest at the top of the ceiling. Now we have a huge open gap to the outside with a small fence to keep us from falling out but not enough to keep birds and bugs from flying in! In addition, the bed is so close to the window there’s no room to walk. And one more turnoff—the loud Motel 6-type AC unit. Really?
Highly finished Baltic birch wood is the other material used throughout, serving as a soft contrast to the hard surfaces. And a splash of a teal abstractly covering one wall of each room replaces hotel art and further softens the grey concrete. I must admit, the clean lines of the minimalist design and materials are appealing and soothing.
On the Rooftop
Perhaps the coolest spot in the hotel is the rooftop where those ubiquitous garage doors open to a cantilevered outdoor deck on the 8th floor. The views truly are spectacular. The Woods Restaurant is here, serving three meals a day plus brunch and happy hour.
In addition, two hot and cold pools are on the deck, neither large enough for anything to do with swimming. “The pools are for you to sit and have a drink with your feet in the water,” said Dynia. Another break with convention! There’s also a fitness center on the 8th floor.
Dining at Safta
I can’t review The Source without mentioning Safta, the Isreali restaurant with influences from the Middle East, Europe and North Africa. It’s easy to overeat at Safta because a) the food is so incredibly delicious, and b) most of the menu items come in hot and cold small plates. Consequently, you order a few dishes and find that you can’t eat them all, or you do. The star of the meal is a soft, chewy pita bread baked to perfection in a wood-fired oven. You can tear it apart or fill it with a hummus that comes smeared around the rim of a bowl. Pair it with cauliflower and Yemenite curried onions or a lamb ragu. Duck Matzo Balls share soup space with heirloom carrots, English peas and herbs. We enjoyed the small dishes so much we didn’t even get to the large plates. But we did order desserts (Pistachio Baklava and Chocolate & Hazelnut Babka) that we brought to our room for later noshing!
Getting to The Source
The Source Hotel and Market Hall are at 3330 Brighton Blvd., Denver, CO 80216. It’s a short car or train ride from Denver’s Union Station and a 25-minute ride on the A train from Denver International Airport. It’s a bit of a hike from the train station at 38th & Blake Street, but they have a shuttle that can pick you up there. Reservations: thesourcehotel.com; 720-409-1200.
Claudia Carbone is an award-winning travel writer based in Denver. Read about other hotels she’s visited in Sleepin’ Around.