“If only these walls could talk,” I said to my husband as we relaxed in our Victorian room on the fifth floor of the Boulderado Hotel in downtown Boulder, Colorado. We had been trundled up five floors in the original Otis elevator that has served the hotel since its opening on New Year’s Eve 1908 for a grand gala, before guests began checking in on Jan. 1, 1909.
The bell staff took pride in trying to get the small car to stop in line with the floor they were aiming for, and several times, we laughed along with them as they jolted us up and down to get the perfect fit before sliding open the gate and sending us on our way.
It was our first weekend of travel post-pandemic, and we celebrated by ordering a bottle of bubbly and some house-made chocolate with ginger and cranberries to be waiting in our room when we arrived. But before we popped the cork, we poked around our room and explored the slant-roofed closets and period furniture. I scrambled up onto a settee to peer out our alcove window toward the famous Pearl Street Mall and then flopped onto the bed to read the history of the hotel and wonder at the people who had stayed there in the last 112 years.
The Boulderado’s restaurant has been in constant service since its inception, but the bar in its basement has had to take a few breaks in service. Although the nation didn’t experience Prohibition until 1920, Boulder was a dry town from 1907 until 1969. The Boulderado’s basement bar is reputed to have been first in line for a license once legal booze began to flow. Hence, the bar is called License No. 1, which plays up the feel of a swanky speakeasy nightclub with dark walls, red accents, and sharply dressed bouncers. We sipped our nightcap tucked into a cozy alcove under a picture of the bar in earlier days.
As much as we enjoyed our rides on the old Otis, we equally savored our walks up and down the grand cherrywood staircase that descended past ballrooms to deposit us under a remarkable stained-glass dome into the hotel’s original lobby, where helpful staff members were always on hand to give directions, offer a bottle of water, or just say hello.
With only two days to explore, we started with the Pearl Street Mall that was one block away from the hotel. As we had hoped, we saw magicians, street artists, musicians, and speakers. We heard children squealing with delight in a pop-jet fountain, and in a variety of shops, we enjoyed paintings, sculptures, jewelry, rugs, lamps, and whimsical lawn ornaments made by local artists. I dipped into a candy store that exploded with games, toys, and sweets. Another shop boasted cooking and kitchen supplies that included blown glassware, hot sauces, and quirky napkins. I bought a package that said, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Ready for a respite, we chose the West Flanders Brewery for a little snack. Their IPA selections ranged from juicy to sour, and I enjoyed a flight of tasters to go with my sweet and savory goat cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates while my husband munched on seasoned chips and house-made guacamole. Our hostess had seated us where we could have a view of the vats of beer being brewed on-site in this Belgian-inspired brewpub.
The following morning, we enjoyed the signature eggs Benedict in the Boulderado’s well-appointed dining room. Later, we drove up to the Colorado Chautauqua for a hike past cottages and buildings that recalled the heyday of the Chautauqua. Begun as a school for Texas teachers in 1898, it grew into an art and entertainment destination. Then, it was on up to the Enchanted Mesa and McClintock Nature Trails; the 1.9-mile loop offered expansive views of Boulder and the University of Colorado as well as quiet forests and rocky inclines. From here, we could see the city’s famous red sandstone Flatirons that define the foothills and are visible from almost every part of the city.
At the recommendation of a seasoned local, we decided to cap off our weekend adventure with a true dining experience. The Flagstaff House sits at an elevation of 6,000 feet and is a crown jewel atop the foothills overlooking Boulder. Our table abutted glass walls that offered a postcard view of the city as it twinkled to life in the gathering darkness. A team of waitstaff served us four courses of exquisite food and wine from a world-class wine list. From the amuse-bouche through the desserts, the meal was peppered with little culinary surprises that set it apart from a typical restaurant dinner and shifted it from a meal to an event.
Even my coffee at the end of the night was made special with a little tray of sugars, chocolates, biscotti, and whipped creams—the perfect end to a perfect weekend.
When You Go
Boulderado Hotel: Boulderado.com
Pearl Street Mall: BoulderDowntown.com
West Flanders Brewery: WFBrews.com
Colorado Chautauqua: Chautauqua.com
Lesley Sauls Frederikson is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Creators.com. Copyright 2021 Creators.com