There isn’t a hotel in the world, no matter how grand, that hasn’t had an unwanted or unwelcome guest at one time or another.
The Brown Palace Hotel, in Denver Colorado is a pretty grand place, and has been since 1892 when it was built by Henry Cordes Brown as his response to being denied entry to the Windsor Hotel; at the time Denver’s most renowned establishment, for being improperly dressed; he had come straight from his ranch and was still wearing his working cowboy attire.
The hotel hasn’t closed for so much as a single day since it opened, and it has been the site of everything from the sublime to the ridiculous in that time.
It was here that the Denver Broncos were born; in the lobby of the hotel a prize bull was exhibited; it has been host to Presidents and rock stars and has taken everything the world has to throw at it, while still retaining its reputation as one of the finest hotels in Colorado, if not the entire United States.
However, even here there have been…and still are…a few unusual guests.
Room 904 was home to a famous Denver socialite for some 15 years, between 1940 and 1955. She was so well known that when the hotel started to offer tours to visitors, the room was included in the itinerary, with tourists being told of her life and her heartbreak over a lost love.
At just this time the switchboard started to receive calls from room 904. Nothing odd about that…except that the room was undergoing renovation at the time, and had no telephone line, no furniture and of course no-one in residence.
The hotel dropped the room and its tragic resident’s story from their tour, and the calls stopped.
With such a long and colourful history, the Brown palace has had its share of incident, and maybe some of the shades of its past still linger.
There have been sightings of a man in an old-fashioned train conductor’s uniform crossing a hallway, then disappearing through a wall. The spot where this is reported used to house a railroad ticket office.
The service elevator is regularly occupied by a uniformed waiter, who is never seen to board the car or to leave it.
Children play in empty halls, and an infant can sometimes be heard crying in the boiler room.
And in the main dining room – now known as Ellyngton’s, but for many years called the San Marco room; a room which played host to big bands, and later to the San Marco Strings, who entertained diners and guests, a staff member recounts hearing strange noises coming from behind the closed doors of the room late at night. He went to investigate and found a formally dressed string quartet busy practising their repertoire.
He challenged them, saying “You’re not supposed to be in here”, and was given the reply “Oh, don’t worry about us. We live here”
The Brown Palace really is a wonderful hotel, full of wonderful stories and history and perhaps more than a few unexpected guests.