The Brown Palace holiday decorations and Champagne cascade.
Among the most celebrated haunted hotels in America, the Brown Palace has been home to several guests who decided to stay long after they were deceased.
Among the eternal residents is the Denver socialite who lived in room 904 for 15 years and haunted the front desk with calls from her room long after her death, until her room was removed from hotel tours.
There’s the quartet of musicians hanging around at off-hours in the hotel dining room, and a man dressed in an old-fashioned train conductor uniform disappearing through the walls in the exact location of the former Rock Island Railroad ticket office.
Most unnerving are the reports from guests and staff that the floor in the Palace Club Room moves underneath their feet, and of a bartender who goes in and out of the wall.
But devoted repeat guests of the Brown Palace don’t speak of such things. Nick Noble, who lives four hours from Denver, visits the hotel yearly to celebrate with friends, a now 40-year tradition for the Colorado native.
Now in his 60s, he recalls his first visit to The Brown. “My parents brought me here when I was a boy. This was the place where everything was always done right and the staff knew everyone by name. That tradition hasn’t changed, so I come back every year just to celebrate the Brown Palace,” said Noble.
“The service is impeccable and you get that same 5-star treatment the hotel opened with to this day.”
The Brown Palace offers guests a very special chance to be part of history. Past guests include the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown, best known for surviving the Titanic disaster of 1912, who stayed in the hotel a week after the ship sank.
Teatime at the Brown Palace.
Infamous Denver crime boss Jefferson (Soapy) Smith, The Beatles (they stayed here for a concert in 1964), The Rolling Stones, John Wayne, Taylor Swift, and every President since 1905 except Calvin Coolidge and Barack Obama, have visited the Brown Palace.
And the Brown Palace Club Room was used in 1952 as Dwight Eisenhower’s campaign headquarters when he ran for President.
Built in 1892 as a namesake property for its founder, Henry C. Brown, the Brown Palace is the second largest operating hotel in Denver. Made of sandstone and granite with an iron and steel frame, it is one of America’s first fireproof structures. The city founders initially laid out the streets on compass points on Capitol Hill, so when the streets met, they created odd angles and in the case of the Brown Palace, a triangle-shaped lot.
Other curious aspects include the dueling pistols in the Churchill Bar, believed to have belonged to Napoleon and his second wife, Louisa.
The hotel sits on an artesian well that runs 720 feet below the hotel and provides water for the entire hotel. The “liquid gold” is honey harvested from the bees on the roof of the Brown Palace. The honey is used at tea time, infused into Colorado’s Breckenridge Borboun, and in the hotel’s soaps, lotions, and face and body scrubs in the spa.
Daily tea at the Brown Palace is a glorious affair. Served from noon until 4 p.m., scrumptious sandwiches and a variety of sweets and scones (with Devonshire cream shipped from England) are served on a carousel of china. Guests sit atop thick, plush sofas and chairs, surrounded by the lobby’s rare golden onyx walls and pillars while a harpist plays in the background.
Holidays at the Brown Palace are Oscar-like events. The tradition starts on Nov. 19 with a Champagne cascade at noon when a master swordsman severs the bottlenecks of Moet & Chandon Champagne with a Napoleonic saber. The bubbly is then poured into the uppermost glass of a 6,000-plus glass pyramid, overflowing the top glasses to create a dazzling display.
The Brown Palace’s atrium lobby.
A team of 20 craftsmen work for two solid days to set up decorations, including a 25 x 25 foot chandelier with 250,000 crystal beads, 60,000 LED lights, 500 pounds of glitter, and 4,800 ornaments.
The holiday decorations remain up through the end of the National Western Stock Show, during which the Grand Prize-winning champion steer strolls down a red carpet through the lobby of the Brown Palace, past the fine china teacups and under the elaborate chandelier on Jan. 19, 2018.
The tradition dates back to 1945 when former Colorado Gov. Dan Thornton auctioned off two cattle in the lobby. The hotel has invited winning steers every year since.
Dive deeper into the incredible history of the Brown Palace with its hotel Historian Debra Faulkner who hosts public tours every Wednesday and Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ($15, or complimentary to hotel guests).
For those familiar with the Brown Palace history, you can choose from one of the themed private tours: Ghost, Architectural, Romance, Presidential, Ladies of The Brown Palace, or a custom tour.
For more information: thebrownpalace.com or 303-297-3111.
Paula Conway is an author and writer, the President of Astonish Media Group and publisher of Conway Confidential.
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