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Has Kimpton Kept Its Charm: Review of Hotel Monaco Denver

June 10, 2018
10 min read
Has Kimpton Kept Its Charm: Review of Hotel Monaco Denver
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My family spent the last few days in Denver learning about some new things that Frontier Airlines and Barclays have up their sleeves in regards to the Frontier frequent flyer program and the associated co-branded credit card. I will share those details as soon as they let me (in about two weeks), but something I can share now is my experience at the Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton property in downtown Denver. The folks putting on the event picked the hotel and paid for this stay as part of the business trip. This was our first Kimpton stay in years, so even though I didn't pick the property myself, I was interested to see if Kimpton still felt unique and special since it was purchased by IHG and fully integrated into the IHG Rewards program.

The Hotel Monaco Denver is located at 17th and Champa Street in downtown Denver in a former railway exchange building. When we pulled up and walked through the doors, the hotel immediately it felt like the Kimpton properties I have stayed at in the past that simultaneously have character, history, and updated luxury. In fact, this property is fresh off a $6 million renovation completed earlier this year. All 189 guest rooms were updated, and touches all around the property were added to make the hotel feel linked to the history of Colorado with earth tones and mining-related aesthetics.

Kimpton freebies are alive and well

At check-in, my oldest daughter couldn't wait to say the Kimpton 'secret password' which resulted in her getting a chance to spin the wheel for a prize! On the list of possible prizes were a bottle of rose', a drink at the bar, a succulent, beer glass, flask, movie package, and a summer package.

We landed on a movie night package, which turned out to be the perfect match for when the girls woke up at 6AM one morning and needed something to do for a couple of hours. The movie package included an in-room movie rental and snacks. The in-room movies we looked at were $19.99, so we wouldn't have paid that price normally, but it was an easy decision to see a new release for free thanks to the Kimpton secret password.

Of note when talking about Kimpton goodies, is that those who have any level of IHG elite status are eligible for a $10 'Raid the Bar' credit at Kimpton properties ($15 in NYC). You can use this credit towards the in-room minibar or at the actual bar. You can get IHG Platinum elite status simply by having the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card that currently has a welcome bonus of 80,000 points after $2,000 spent within the first 3 months plus an additional 40,000 bonus points after spending a total of $5,000 on purchases within 6 months of account opening.

During check-in, we were also reminded of the evening Kimpton Social Hour between 5 - 6 PM when there are complimentary drinks, light snacks, and even five-minute mini-massages available in the lobby for all guests. Our schedule was too packed to take them up on this offering, but it is a generous and enjoyable inclusion on Kimpton stays. You can also find complimentary coffee and tea, as well as infused sparkling water, in the lobby at various times throughout the day. The Hotel Monaco has loaner bikes available at no charge if you want to explore downtown Denver.

Charming renovated rooms at the Hotel Monaco Denver

Once we completed the lengthy rundown of freebies, it was time to head up one of the two elevators to the sixth floor and check out our room. There were four of us on this trip, so we were booked into a well-sized room with two queen beds.

The Colorado earth-tones were easy to spot in the decor. The cloud white beds were my favorite feature, as everyone slept well in these comfortable beds with sufficient pillows.

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The view was not the highlight as it was comprised completely of a parking garage, but the blackout curtains worked wonders to hide some of the early morning light. In the far corner of the room is a small writing desk that my eight-year-old claimed as her own.

The hotel's website indicates that some of the rooms with two beds have two double beds and some rooms with one bed have just a queen bed, so be careful when booking if you would like to enjoy two queen beds or one king bed, as I assume most would prefer. Most of the Hotel Monaco bathrooms have transitioned to just a walk-in shower, but our particular room had a solid bathroom set-up for families with a tub/shower combo that was very fresh and updated.

The vanity had just one sink, but there was ample counter space available. Of note is that the bathroom door was a sliding door that didn't seem to lock, just in case you were hoping for some guaranteed privacy.

The hotel has rollaway beds available for $25 per night with cribs and playpens are available at no charge. The air conditioner was easy to use and seemed to actually respond to the temperature selected so you can make the room nice and chilly at night. Thankfully, the lighting was also simple to work, which is much appreciated since it can get overly complicated in some updated hotels.

On the first morning, we ordered room service comprised of muffins, eggs, bacon, yogurt, and lots of beverages, which was delivered on time and was enjoyed by all of us via a picnic on the floor.

Don't hope for breakfast first thing in the morning

We were hoping to repeat that plan on our final morning before departing for the airport, but when we called at 7AM to place a room service order, we were told that breakfast doesn't start until 8AM on the weekends. We could only order from their 'overnight' room service offerings of salads and paninis. I pointed out it was 7AM and what we really wanted was just juice, coffee, and muffins, but I was told that wasn't possible for another hour. I have never encountered such a bizarre scenario at a full-service hotel, so if I were to make a specific suggestion, it would be to have some basic breakfast offerings like muffins available in the 'overnight' room service since it is very reasonable to want breakfast instead of a panini at 7AM on a Saturday morning

I will also mention that the room next to ours had their discarded room service tray sitting out in the hallway for over 24 hours, which seemed strange since the rooms had all been serviced during that time frame. It was still sitting in the hall when we departed for the airport, so I don't know how long the old food and drinks ultimately sat there.

While we did not have time for a visit to the gym on this quick stay, there is an 800 square foot gym on the property, or you can get a discounted pass to a larger local gym. If your dog wants to make the trip to Denver with you, the Hotel Monaco is very pet-friendly as they allow dogs at no additional charge, and even have special amenities designed just for them.

Booking a stay at the Hotel Monaco Denver

Paid rates at the Hotel Monaco Denver seem to often hover in the $200 - $300 per night range, or you can use 50,000 IHG points to book a standard room. There is a pesky $10 per night 'daily guest amenity fee' that provides you a BOGO drink at the Family Jones Distillery, a bottle of water at the front desk, Chicchetti bites at the bar Panzano, printing and copying of up to 50 pages, and upgraded WiFi. In other words, it is pretty much just an extra money grab that is the new 'resort fee' of downtown hotels.

My mom and girls happy in the Hotel Monaco lobby

The Hotel Monaco Denver has a fun vibe, a luxurious feel, and great inclusions and freebies, especially for IHG elites and those with the Kimpton secret password. I loved that it was just an eight-block pedicab ride home after a night seeing the Rockies play at Coors Field and I would absolutely stay here again with my family if the price was right on a trip to Denver.

I think that Kimpton has so far retained much of what makes them special even after the IHG integration, but the stay wasn't totally perfect. I wasn't paying this time, but the $10 daily guest amenity fee that is increasingly common at metropolitan Kimpton properties is ridiculous, parking charges are $46 per night for those bringing a car are painful, and not being able to order even a basic breakfast until after 8AM on the weekend is truly bizarre.

If you are looking for a slightly different Denver Kimpton experience, there is also the Hotel Born that is located in Union Station part of downtown. This means you could take the $9 and 37-minute A Line train from Denver International to Union Station to be just steps from the Hotel Born Denver. The Hotel Born has a Tesla house car shuttle service available for trips within a couple miles of the hotel and provides access to the Colorado Athletic Club. These amenities come at a price with an even higher guest amenity charge of $20 per night.

For those into the Kimpton boutique experience, either downtown Denver hotel sounds like a winner, and I can personally vouch for an overall solid stay with my family at the Hotel Monaco Denver. In your recent Kimpton experiences, has the brand kept what made them unique in light of the full IHG integration?