Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs offer a variety of lodging options, from typical American chains to luxury hotels, cozy bed-and-breakfasts to inexpensive mom-and-pop independent motels, cabins to magnificent grande dame hotels.
The chains here are the same ones you see everywhere else in America: Best Western, Comfort, Days Inn, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Motel 6, Quality Inn, Sheraton, Super 8, Travelodge, and so on. They look just about the same as those found elsewhere and have the same levels of service. In most cases, their rooms are little more than boring boxes of various sizes, with beds and the appropriate plumbing and heating fixtures, and, if you're lucky, a decent view out the window. These chains, even the high-end ones like Hilton and Sheraton, are fine if you just want a place to sleep and plan to take advantage of their swimming pools, exercise rooms, and other facilities. However, they do very little to enhance your vacation experience or even to let you know you're in Colorado.
To make your lodging an integral part of your Colorado experience, I suggest choosing a historic property. I discuss numerous historic bed-and-breakfast inns in the following pages, and -- especially when you take into consideration the wonderful breakfasts most of them serve -- the rates are fairly reasonable. Why spend $90 for a boring motel room and then another $10 to $15 for breakfast when for just a bit more you can sleep in a handsome, antiques-decorated Victorian home and enjoy a home-cooked breakfast?
This area of Colorado also has several magnificent but pricey historic hotels, including the absolutely wonderful Brown Palace in Denver and the family-friendly Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. These hotels are as much attractions as lodgings, and what better way to see them than to book a room for the night, just as others have done for the better part of a century?
Other lodging choices here include cabins and a handful of small independent motels. Both are usually fairly inexpensive, although they often lack the facilities, such as pools, spas, and exercise equipment, that you'll find in most chains. I still prefer the cabins and independents, though, because they're often a very good value and the rooms usually have at least some personality (can anybody actually describe the decor of the last Super 8 or Days Inn he or she stayed at?), and cabins, although sometimes a bit primitive, are often in beautiful settings.
House-Swapping -- House-swapping is becoming a more popular and viable means of travel: You stay in their place, they stay in yours, and you both get an authentic and personal view of the area, the opposite of the escapist retreat that many hotels offer. Try HomeLink International (www.homelink.org), the largest and oldest home-swapping organization, founded in 1952, with over 11,000 listings worldwide ($75 for a yearly membership). HomeExchange.org ($50 for 6,000 listings) and InterVac.com ($69 for over 10,000 listings) are also reliable. Many travelers find great housing swaps on Craigslist (www.craigslist.org), too, though the offerings cannot be vetted or vouched for. Swap at your own risk.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.