Best Places to Stay in Denver

Where to Stay in Denver, By an Area Local [2021]

Denver is quickly becoming one of the hottest cities in America for tourism, which leaves many people wondering where to stay in Denver.

I am a Colorado local who has spent years living in many different areas in Denver (I even bought a home in one of them). These days I travel the world full time and write about it on this blog, but every time I come home I take a moment to take stock of how the different parts of Denver are changing.

And I can assure you of one thing: where you choose to stay in Denver will have a big impact on how much you enjoy your trip to the Mile High City. So to help you out, I created this local’s guide to staying in Denver, as well as a separate post where I rank the best hotels in Denver.

Oh, and before you dive in, be sure to bookmark my list of the best day trips from Denver, which is filled with awesome excursions from the Mile High City, and my epic list of the top Denver activities.

Best Places to Stay

The author at one of the top places to stay in Denver
You can’t go wrong staying at the incredible historic The Oxford Hotel!

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Denver? Here are my top picks:

If you want to deep-dive further, go check out my mega post on the best hotels in Denver. Otherwise, let’s dive into the best areas and neighborhoods to stay in Denver.

9 Best Neighborhoods and Areas to Stay in Denver

Denver is composed of dozens of neighborhoods, each with its own unique character. See this map to get a sense of how the city is broken down. There are technically 78 Denver neighborhoods, too many to cover fairly in this guide, but I’ll briefly go over the Denver neighborhoods that are most popular with visitors.

1. Union Station / Lower Downtown (“LoDo”)

View of the lobby of The Maven in the LoDo area of Denver
Downstairs from The Maven Hotel you’ll find Dairy Block, one of the coolest “micro-districts” in Denver

👉 Best Area For First Timers and Tourists | ✨ Best LoDo Hotels: The MavenThe CrawfordThe Oxford

Since 2014, when the historic train station re-opened to the public after a major renovation project, Union Station has quickly established itself as the cultural heart of Lower Downtown (“LoDo”) Denver. If you are figuring out where to stay in Denver, and want to be in the center of it all, Lower Downtown is the area for you.

The surrounding neighborhood consists largely older warehouse-style buildings to the east of the station and newer construction to the west, all filled with some of Denver’s best restaurants, boutique shops, bars, hotels, and Coors Field (home to the Colorado Rockies baseball team). 

If you can afford it, my top recommendation for first-time visitors is that the Lower Downtown area is the best neighborhood to stay in Denver! You’ll be in the middle of it, all with easy access to transportation options, fine dining, sports and performances, nightlife, and the most vibrant parts of the city.

Pros of Staying in LoDo / Union Station Neighborhood:

  • Located in the center of the action
  • Tons of restaurants and bars
  • Easy to walk to much of the city, a short Uber or scooter ride to the rest

Cons of Staying in LoDo / Union Station Neighborhood :

  • Hotels are relatively expensive

📚 Union Station Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for First Timers
Google Map

2. Five Points / RiNo

Colorful street art in RiNo district Denver
The alley behind Denver Central Market

👉 Best Area For Nightlife and Art | ✨ Best RiNo Hotels: The Ramble The Source Hotel

Just north of Union Station lies Five Points, one of Denver’s most historic neighborhoods and probably the best neighborhood to stay in Denver for nightlife. At one point it was known as the “Harlem of the West,” with discriminatory housing laws in the rest of the city resulting in this neighborhood becoming the focal point of the city’s African American community. In recent years, Five Points has been the target of heavy development and gentrification, with the areas along Larimer and Lawrence streets, in particular, seeing a boom in construction projects over the past five years.

Today, Five Points (aka River North or RiNo) is home to a growing number of hot clubs, cool breweries, and fun and innovative dining options like Denver Central Market, where restaurants, a deli, a cafe, and an ice cream shop all share a single roof, with colorful art in the back alley. RiNo is a great place to spend your evenings while traveling to Denver and this could be your best area to stay in Denver if nightlife and dining are on the top of your list of things to do while in Denver.

Pros of Staying in RiNo Neighborhood:

  • Best nightlife area in town
  • Solid restaurants, great street art
  • A fun and lively area

Cons of Staying in RiNo Neighborhood :

  • Nightlife means it can get loud on weekends
  • Things are spread out, so walking to downtown is a bit of a hike

📚 Five Points / River North Mini Guide 📚
Best for Nightlife and Art
Google Map

3. Cherry Creek

View of the author at the Halcyon in Cherry Creek Denver
The apartment-style rooms at the Halcyon are amazing!

👉 Best Area For Luxury Travel and Shopping | ✨ Best Cheery Creek Hotels: Halycon HotelThe Jacquard Autograph Collection

The Denver Cherry Creek neighborhood is best known for its high-end residential units, as well as it’s enormous shopping complex by the same name. There are also a number of dining options here, though quite a few of them fall into the chain variety. Denver’s Cherry Creek is the best area to stay in Denver if you’re intent on doing a lot of shopping or if you want a high-end hotel outside of downtown Denver. Otherwise, I’d candidly recommend giving it a pass as it can feel a bit sterile to visitors.

Pros of Staying in the Cherry Creek Neighborhood:

  • Large, clean, expansive streets that are great for walking
  • TONS of shopping options
  • The most high-end/luxury part of town

Cons of Staying in the Cherry Creek Neighborhood :

  • It’s far from everything – you’ll definitely need a car or frequent Ubers

📚 Cherry Creek Mini Guide 📚
Best for Luxury Travelers, Shopers
Google Map

4. Central Business District (CBD)

View of Denver Convention Center and Blue Bear
The Blue Bear outside the Denver Convention Center in Denver’s CBD

👉 Best Area For Business Travel & Conventions | ✨ Best CBD Hotels: Le Meridien HotelThe Brown Palace Hotel

Sporting soaring office skyscrapers and a long pedestrian mall along 16th street (complete with a free shuttle service that runs the entire length of downtown Denver from the Capitol to Union Station), the Central Business District is the center of Denver’s growing business community. It’s also home to the Denver Convention Center, a huge multipurpose space that plays host to a wide variety of conferences and events (including the annual Great American Beer Festival), and the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

If you are traveling to Denver on business or for a convention, the many hotels in Denver’s Central Business District neighborhood make for a convenient option. But, in my opinion, the area can be a little dull at night (because almost nobody actually lives here). This is really only the best area to stay in Denver for business travelers, those loyal to a particular hotel chain, or those who plan to spend all of their time at the Colorado Convention Center.

Pros of Staying in the CBD Neighborhood:

  • Great for attending conventions
  • Close to downtown office buildings
  • Lots of Denver attractions within walking distance

Cons of Staying in the CBD Neighborhood :

  • Not a residential area, so can feel a little dead at night (especially on weekdays)

📚 Central Business District Mini Guide 📚
Best for Business Travelers, Convention Attendees
Google Map

5. Capitol Hill

View of the author in front of the Colorado State Capitol Building in Denver

👉 Best Area For Budget Travelers | ✨ Best Capitol Hill Hotels: The Art Hotel Denver

Home to the Colorado State Capitol and the Molly Brown House Museum, Capitol Hill is a blend of residential housing (largely townhomes and low-rise apartment buildings) and gritty but more affordable nightlife and dining options.

Denver’s Capitol Hill is also home to some of the more interesting stretches of Colfax Avenue, which Playboy once called “the longest, wickedest street in America,” and where you can find tattoo parlors, marijuana dispensaries, and run-down liquor stores nestled between trendy breweries and value dining options.

If you’re the kind of traveler who likes Williamsburg or Silverlake, or if you’re just looking for an affordable but central alternative to the city’s more expensive neighborhoods, you’ll love Capitol Hill. Despite its grit, Capitol Hill is the best place to stay in Denver on a budget.

Pros of Staying in the CBD Neighborhood:

  • Great for attending conventions
  • Close to downtown office buildings
  • Lots of Denver attractions within walking distance

Cons of Staying in the CBD Neighborhood :

  • Not a residential area, so can feel a little dead at night (especially on weekdays)

📚 Capitol Hill Mini Guide 📚
Best for Budget Travelers
Google Map

  • Best HotelThe Art Hotel Denver
  • 🍽️ Where to EatCity O’ City ($$), Jelly ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Hudson Hill
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Colorado State Capitol, Molly Brown House, Colfax Avenue

6. Lower Highlands / LoHi

Exterior view of Senor Bear restaurant in Lower Highlands neighborhood
Senor Bear, one of many superb restaurants and bars in LoHi

👉 Best Area For Families | ✨ Best LoHi Hotels: Life HouseFairfield Inn & Suites

LoHi was my home for many years and is still one of the hottest residential locations in Denver. Highlands — as the name suggests — is located up a bit of a hill that gives many spots stunning vistas of the downtown Denver skyline. The southern part of the neighborhood, often called “LoHi,” is home to some of the most expensive restaurants and bars in the city, including the ever-trendy Linger, which is set in a former mortuary. There is also a stretch of cool bars, restaurants, and shops further north in Highlands along Tennyson Avenue.

The neighborhood is a great base for those looking for a quieter scene, as LoHi tends to calm down a bit after sunset. There are a number of larger Airbnbs on offer here, as well as mid-market hotels fronting Speer Avenue that may offer value given their proximity to downtown Denver, such as the solid Fairfield Inn & Suites. Don’t miss ice cream at the iconic Little Man, where servers scoop up the good stuff from a building shaped like a milk can. 

Pros of Staying in the LoHi Neighborhood:

  • Amazing restaurants
  • Reasonably close to downtown
  • Lively but still quiet at night
  • Has a great residential ambiance, with lots of greenery, parks, and fewer cars

Cons of Staying in the LoHi Neighborhood :

  • The hill makes the walk back from downtown a bit of a chore

📚 LoHi Mini Guide 📚
Best for Families
Google Map

7. Uptown / North Capitol Hill

👉 Best Area For Longer Term Stays | ✨ Best Uptown Hotels: The Warwick

The smaller Uptown residential neighborhood is a quick walk away from Denver’s CBD, and a good value option for those visiting on business or looking to move to Denver (I lived here for years, and in fact still own a home there). Though not as lively as the surrounding neighborhoods, there is a mini-stretch of dining and nightlife along 17th Avenue that can still “Uptown funk you up.”

If you want to hang out on Colfax without having to actually stay on Colfax, or if you need to be downtown but want a little more character in your neighborhood, Uptown is a good area to stay in Denver for you. Don’t miss Ace, where modern Asian food, stylish but affordable cocktails, and ping pong (yes, ping pong!) all combine in an unexpected mix that works much better than it sounds.

Pros of Staying in the Uptown Neighborhood:

  • A very residential area with lots of locals
  • Pretty centrally located

Cons of Staying in the Uptown Neighborhood :

  • Fewer hotels to choose from

📚 Uptown Mini Guide 📚
Best for Longer Term Stays in Denver
Google Map

  • Best HotelWarwick Denver
  • 🍽️ Where to EatStueben’s Uptown ($$), Watercourse ($$, plant-based)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Ace, Park & Co
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Ogden Theatre

8. Baker / South Broadway

The author standing in front of Denver's The Mayan Theatre
Me in front of the historic Mayan theatre, my favorite place on South Broadway

👉 Best Area For Young Professionals | ✨ Best Uptown Hotels: Towne Place Suites by Marriott

In recent years, the area along South Broadway has become the hip spot for Denver’s younger professional set. The anchor attraction here is Punch Bowl Social, a huge complex that includes a restaurant, several bars, a bowling alley, shuffleboard, and an upstairs game room. But you’ll also want to check out the rest of the many smaller, hip joints that dot South Broadway from 1st Street down to Alameda Avenue.

From swank restaurants to cheap eats, there are plenty of places to grab a bite. And if you’re in a shopping mood, skip the chain stores and check out the many incredible boutiques that line South Broadway. If you want a fun area to stay in Denver outside of downtown, this is it (along with RiNo). Note that most of the accommodation in the area is Airbnbs, are there aren’t a ton of hotel options. The one exception is the Towne Place Suites by Marriott which is a decent budget option if you’re looking for a cheap place to stay in Denver.

Pros of Staying in the Baker / South Broadway Neighborhood:

  • South Broadway is filled with lots of fun bars, restaurants, and shops
  • Still pretty quiet once you are a block away from South Broadway
  • Always a pretty lively area

Cons of Staying in the Baker / South Broadway Neighborhood :

  • Fewer hotels to choose from
  • Far from much of the rest of Denver

📚 South Broadway Mini Guide 📚
Best for Millennials, Young Professionals
Google Map

9. Washington Park

The author looking out over Washington Park in Denver
Me in Washington Park

👉 Best Area For Families and Outdoors (But no hotels!)

Home to many students and younger families, the Washington Park (“Wash Park”) neighborhood is a residential area set around the expansive park by the same name, which is worth a visit while traveling to Denver — especially during good weather, when the park comes alive with bikers, runners, skaters, basketball players, and more.

Although it is a wonderful Denver neighborhood, it’s a little far out from the rest of the city, so I wouldn’t recommend staying in Washington Park unless you have a car or willing to spend some time taking Denver public transportation. The other problem is that there are no hotels in Washington Park, so you’d need to get an apartment rental to stay in this neighborhood in Denver.

Pros of Staying in the Washington Park Neighborhood:

  • The park is huge and a great place to get outdoors in the city
  • Very pet friendly

Cons of Staying in the Washington Park Neighborhood :

  • Zero hotels to choose from, so you’ll need an apartment rental
  • Very far from the rest of Denver (you’ll definitely need a car or bike)

📚 Washington Park Mini Guide 📚
Best for Families, Outdoors Types
Google Map

  • 🍽️ Where to EatSushi Den ($$$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Washington Park Grille
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Washington Park, the nearby South Pearl Street dining area

4 Tips for Where to Stay in Denver

Tip 1 – Don’t Stay at Denver International Airport

If you are new to Denver and searching for hotels on many booking sites, you may be tempted by relatively good deals for hotels near Denver International Airport (DIA). Unless you are specifically coming for a conference that takes place in one of those hotels, or unless you are just transiting through DIA, do NOT stay at or near DIA. The airport in Denver is ridiculously far from the city, owing to the location of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, so staying at the airport means being isolated from pretty much anything else in town.

Tip 2 – No, It’s Not Just You, Denver Hotels Are Really Expensive

A lot of people come to Denver thinking the town will make for a great budget vacation destination. That may have been true a decade ago, but these days Denver is one of the most popular business and travel locations in the United States. Prices for Denver accommodation reflect the city’s popularity, so it’s pretty much impossible to find any true “budget” hotels in Denver. A “good deal” in Denver these days is pretty much any hotel under $250/night. In fact, there really isn’t even a single neighborhood in Denver where you can find truly budget hotel stays, although the Capitol Hill area comes closest.

Tip 3 – And You May Save Money by Paying More

A lot of travelers are penny wise, pound foolish when it comes to booking accommodation. Don’t get a hotel that is really from downtown just because it cost $20 less per night. You will easily end up spending more than that on transportation costs to get around. Instead, you can actually end up saving money by staying in one of my recommended areas in Denver, even if it means paying a bit more for your hotel, becuase it will put you in walking or public transit proximity to the many things to do in Denver (most of which are centered around the core of the city).

Tip 4 – Denver’s Neighborhoods Use Many Different Names

Note that one confusing thing about Denver’s neighborhoods is that the “official” terms for some of the more popular neighborhoods don’t necessarily align with the terms that locals will throw around. For example, in recent years the slang “RiNo” (standing for “River North”) has come to be used to describe large portions of the historic neighborhood Five Point (astute travelers will observe that the newer slang terms often correspond to gentrifying areas).

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best area to stay in Denver?

The best overall area to stay in Denver is the Lower Downtown neighborhood, also known as “LoDo” or Union Station. Other top areas to stay include Five Points and the Central Business District.

Where should I stay in Denver for vacation?

If you are coming to Denver for tourism, great areas to stay include Lower Downtown, Capitol Hill, or the Five Points neighborhood.

Is Denver a walkable city?

Denver is a somewhat walkable city, with an overall Walk Score of 61 according to WalkScore.com. For tourists to Denver, many attractions are within walking distance, although it greatly helps to have a rental car if you can.

Where should I not stay in Denver?

Areas to avoid staying in Denver as a tourist include anywhere that is too far from downtown Denver, as well as the northern parts of the city between City Park and Five Points (which have some of the higher crime rates in the city). It is also generally inconvenient to stay at Denver International Airport as the airport is located far from the city.

***

That’s it for this guide to where to stay in Denver. If you have any questions or any need personalized advice, feel free to scroll down and leave a comment. You’ll just want to bookmark this page and check back for my response (I try to respond within a day).

Enjoy the Mile High City!

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