Hotels in Boulder

Since meeting my husband 16 years ago, I’ve (we’ve) visited Boulder, Colorado several times because he has family there. Boulder is a great city in many ways: walkability, scenery, dining (fine and other), shopping, and overall vibe.

I believe that every time we’ve visited, we’ve tried a different hotel, based on what the planned activity was for the trip, or cost, or both. Below, then, is my completely subjective ranking of Boulder hotels, based on my recollections. Since I didn’t write these reviews at the time of stay, some memories are hazy.

1. St. Julien Hotel and Spa

This place is lush, is in the center of town, and is definitely a fantastic place to stay if you want to feel pampered and special. There is a beautiful bar in the lobby, and from what I recall, the food is great, but there is also a lot of great dining within a short walk. There is garage parking underneath. The staff know how to treat guests. This is the only place we’ve stayed in Boulder that is on par with a Vegas hotel. The only cons: not meant for long term stay (no “comforts of home” like fridges), and, well, it’s pricey.

2. Boulder Marriott

It’s a Marriott, which means it’s clean, convenient, and well-run. It’s situated in the “business district,” so it’s definitely less touristy, and better for folks like us, in town visiting friends or family. It shares a parking lot with McGuckin’s, which may well be the best hardware store on the planet. Even though it’s not tourist central, like most of Boulder, it’s still convenient, and there are good restaurants and grocery stores within walking distance.

3. Boulderado

A sentimental favorite, because this was the place my then my brand new boyfriend put us up on my first visit to Boulder, three months after we met. This is back when he was trying to impress me (that phase is long over ;-)). The Boulderado is an historical building, and has a long and storied past. Like the Julien, it’s in the tourist district, and is convenient to the Pearl St. Mall, and other attractions. In fact, last year, we took a bus tour of Boulder that left from in front of the Boulderado. The hotel is Victorian, which means ornate, and well, old. The only reason I have’t rated this higher is that I grew up in an old house, and while I can appreciate their charm, I also really love modern convenience.

4. Chautauqua

Chautauqua was an adult educational movement in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Go read about it at the site. Back? OK, now this is an amazing place to stay if you want to really get away and experience a bit of the sheer beauty of Boulder. We stayed as part of a family “reunion” of sorts. All together, we rented 3 cabins, and there were 8 adults and 3 children. Each cabin had a full kitchen, and was a lovely place to relax, read, and enjoy each other’s company. While we were there, there was an orchestral concert, and a Indigo Girls concert, and we could sit on our front porch and enjoy the music from afar. We also were able to walk down to the auditorium during orchestra rehearsals. It was just lovely.

There is a fantastic restaurant on site, but of course, you’ll probably want to cook meals as well. There are no TVs in the cabins, but there is WiFi. We would definitely stay here again, but it would probably be a planned family event as before, just because there is a certain remoteness you feel while here. Note: if you, like me, don’t handle high elevations well, this is even higher than the rest of Boulder. I found myself getting worn out just getting out of bed ;-).

5. Millennium Harvest House

Like the Marriott, this is part of a national chain, so if you’ve stayed in a Millennium property before, you’ll likely be unsurprised by this one. It’s a convenient location to the University, and when we were there (over Thanksgiving week), there was a Colorado/Nebraska game, so it was FULL of Nebraskans. Being a Jersey girl originally, I remarked that I had never seen a Nebraskan before, so this was a good exposure. In general, it was a pleasant stay, although we were on a ground floor room, and I do recall feeling as if the furniture on our little patio hadn’t been attended to in awhile. If I recall correctly, there may have been a dirty ashtray out there. That said, this is a good mid-range place to stay, particularly if you want to be near the University sports facilities.

6. Homewood Suites

Homewood Suites are a Hilton property, so again, a national chain with a certain level of reliability. This was our most recent stay, and regardless of the fact it’s in the middle of the pack, we may stay here again because the location is most convenient to my husband’s family, on the south side of Boulder, near Baseline (fun fact, “Baseline Road” is at the 40th parallel).

Since my memories of this place are most fresh, I don’t want to come across as harsh. It’s a fine place to stay, but I had some issues. After housekeeping cleaned on our first afternoon, the air freshening smell was overwhelming. It permeated the hallway and the elevator. We had to open the windows (pro: we *could* open the windows), and let it air out throughout the afternoon and all night. That turned out to be a bonus because the HVAC is so loud that it was waking us up the previous night. Although, the noise from the HVAC was nice because it did drown out the noise from the room above. It’s not that the person above us was loud, it’s the way the place is built. We literally could hear every time the person shifted in his/her bed, and or moved at all. So, bottom line, it’s not built very well.

That said, the have free breakfast and light dinner every day, and they are very nice people. Once I told them about the Febreeze problem, it got better (although, side note, on our second morning, housekeeping never showed up although we took down the privacy sign between about 9:30 am and 1:30 pm. At 3 pm, we got a note under the door that they were respecting our privacy and to let them know if we needed anything (um, thanks?).

There is a nice pool, and it’s a quiet spot within walking distance of a Safeway, several little lunch places, and a Rite Aid. The lobby, where the meals are served, is open and airy with a fireplace and a TV, and I believe there’s always coffee available.

Finally, this is obviously designed for long term stays, because there is a kitchen and living room in all the rooms, so it is a nicer place to hang out if you are going to be there while. Note: we didn’t actually realize we had dishes, glasses, and silverware until our last night there, because they were in the dishwasher. One would think that housekeeping would put them away before a room was ready, or perhaps leave a note on the dishwasher. Also, we had no forks, only spoons and knives. Bottom line, I think the housekeeping staff needs some more training.

7. Boulder Outlook

This is a rehabbed former national chain hotel of some sort, and the main building’s rooms are all centered around the indoor pool. I hate this setup in hotels because it means everything smells like chlorine all the time. That said, it’s a clean place with friendly staff, and if you’re not really interested in whether your room is comfortable because you plan to be out and about the whole time you’re in Boulder, this is a fine place to stay. We actually stayed in a room on the outside, and because it was January, the wind was so loud it was almost alarming. There’s a free continental breakfast every morning, including one of those nifty waffle machines, so that will keep the kids entertained.

I am really impressed with this hotel’s commitment to sustainability and the outdoor living aspects of Boulder. You can rent a bike, and there is a lot of literature about hiking and the mountains available.

8/9. The Golden Buff and The Broker

Both of these hotels are currently closed, which is just as well, because I wouldn’t recommend either of them. The Broker had decor like an 1890’s brothel, and the Buff was really just a motel. That said, the Buff is being rebuilt across the street from it’s old location and may well be upgraded in the process.

Regardless of where you stay in Boulder, you should visit at some point. It can be just gorgeous, and has a lot going for it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend *against* any of the places we stayed except for the last two, so go, and let me know what you think.