I think I’ve shared this before, but as many know, my sister currently lives in Fort Collins, Colorado while in grad school. It’s a truly great place, with proximity to the great outdoors the state is known for, an enviable number of breweries, and a perfectly walkable downtown that feels larger than its population. At the heart of it is the historic Armstrong Hotel, which opened its doors in 1923; it also housed the first chapter of AAA. Over the years, the property saw the booms and busts of the city, and in 2019 it was stunningly refurbished to rightfully become a jewel of downtown as the last remaining historic hotel.
We ended up at the Armstrong as part of a longer trip that would bring us to Boulder, one that we had planned and replanned and planned again due to the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Finally, in late September, driven in part by a great rate at the Hyatt House in Boulder, we pulled the trigger and committed to the trip. Before continuing on to Boulder, my family decided we’d love a night in Fort Collins as it’s a city that we love to visit and hadn’t been in a while.
We originally booked this hotel through an online travel agent due to it displaying a lower rate, but upon mentioning to my mom that I’d rather the hotel get the full amount for the stay, we made a phone call to the property and they happily matched our rate. You can also, of course, book directly on the hotel's website at: www.the armstronghotel.com. Our rate was $149/night plus taxes and fees, a steal for this hotel - a sad indicator of COVID’s impact on its occupancy. We paid with my parents Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card, earning 2x points per dollar spent at hotels.
Arrival, Check In & Lobby
We pulled up to the Armstrong in our rental car after flying into Denver International Airport and driving up I-25. The only thing different than usual was the smoke from the nearby wildfires - it obscured what was usually a stunning view of the mountains to the west - a strong indicator of the disaster bearing down on the state. Upon arrival, the loading pull off was clearly marked, but we were initially a bit confused as to where the hotel entrance was as the Ace Cafe, one of the restaurants, occupied a considerable portion of the street frontage; however, before long we found our way inside and were pleasantly greeted by every staff member we passed. The check in process was smooth and friendly, and oozing with hospitality. The agent made plenty of local recommendations as well, which immediately forged a connection with us as guests.
The lobby was equally as charming! It struck the perfect chord, for me, of quirky and refined as well as trendy and timeless. Great furnishing was thoughtfully placed throughout the space, much of it being used for the Cafe as well, and the scale of the room felt perfect. Although not a huge space, the variety of zones made it feel incredibly comfortable and welcoming. The array of artwork, textures and colors just felt right, not to mention somehow uniquely connected to the location. And I loved the staircase with the signature wallcovering that has worked its way into the hotel’s branding - seen on most print materials.
From check in, two of us headed up the tiny elevator with the luggage and the other two continued up the stairs to Room 310 - a Double Queen Room. We entered off of a foyer space with a curio that housed a refrigerator and Nespresso machine, and would also prove handy in getting ready in the morning. It also offered additional storage beyond the wardrobe in the room.
The main space in the room was huge! There was ample space for all of our bags to open up, and room to spread out while getting ready or relaxing between adventures. The two plush white queen beds were truly exceptional, with great linens too - I loved the way the brass headboards popped against the deep blue wall! In between them was a nightstand that offered us sufficient power for all of our devices. Opposite the beds was a “fireplace” with bookshelves, which although sparse appeared to be filled with nicknacks when not in a pandemic, as well as a reasonably sized TV above. On one side was a sitting area with two comfy mid-century chairs and a side table and across the room was a wardrobe and vanity area. The only thing that struck me as odd was the lack of a desk in the room, although I would’ve happily worked in the lobby had I needed to.
Back off of the foyer, there was a large bathroom. Despite its size, we all commented at one point or another how tiny the vanity was. There was truly no room to open an amenity bag - troubling given the hotel markets this room to families of four. Overall though, the finishes were again excellent, and the shower was sizable and had great heat and pressure. The large format Essential Elements amenities featured safety locks, reassuring that they weren’t tampered with, and smelled absolutely fantastic. I wish I could’ve snagged them off the wall.
These spaces were really striking. Much like the lobby, there was thoughtful artwork and a great blend of colors and textures. The spaces felt rich, yet also cozy and inviting. The attention to detail was also impeccable. One that I loved was the inset wood floors overlaid with the massive area rug that anchored the beds - really a lovely move in the space. I also enjoyed the transom windows above each door, a throwback to the hotel’s history and age. The design of this hotel was executed perfectly.
Amenities & Features
As a historic hotel, the Armstrong is understandably light on amenities. One of the main ones for us was the complimentary use of house bikes, which we used to tour a few of the breweries beyond walking distance. I also appreciated the pre-curated brewery biking map that the front desk shared with us when checking out! In room, the hotel offered complimentary Nespresso and free wifi that was adequate for streaming Netflix on multiple of our devices. And, although there is no on-site spa, the hotel has partnered with a local spa to offer services to those who are interested.
Food & Beverage
The hotel formally features two food and beverage offerings: Ace Cafe and Ace Gillett’s Lounge & Supper Club; Mug’s Coffee and Choice City Butchery also reside in the building and are additional options for guests. While Ace Gillett’s was closed, we still managed to check out the space, shown below, which occupies the basement of the hotel and has a speakeasy vibe. I for sure want to visit again to grab a drink down here once COVID is a distant memory!
Shortly after the three of us checked in, we grabbed lunch outside at Ace Cafe while waiting for my sister to finish class, and it proved the perfect beginning to our trip and a great way to wind down after a day of travel. My dad enjoyed a local brew and my mom and I each decided to partake in a lovely cocktail, since the cocktail lounge was closed due to COVID. Mom had the signature Ruby Soho: Gin, Aperol, Elderflower, Grapefruit Cordial, Lime & Seltzer; while I had a Vieux Carre: Rye, Cognac, Vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura & Peychuad Bitters. To help balance the alcohol, we started with the Loaded Tots, which were truly fantastic. We also each got an assortment of sandwiches, mine a tremendous hot fried chicken sandwich and my dad’s being part of a great $10 burger and beer special. The food and drinks were both creative and stellar.
As with most properties we’ve reviewed thus far, the standard health and safety components were in place: plexiglass barriers, hand sanitizer stations and social distancing. This hotel, like others, did a great job of making guests not only feel comfortable and secure, but also welcome.
I cannot express enough how much I love this property! The mix of history, design and approachable hospitality, which not even COVID could dampen, is truly killer. It’s both the best ingredients and a great recipe! I absolutely loved every aspect of this stay, and am shocked that this hotel hasn’t been snatched by a soft brand - it’d feel right at home alongside The Eliza Jane, an Unbound Collection by Hyatt, for example. I cannot wait to stay here again, and only hope that it can live up to my expectations after our great visit! At the end of the day, a great hotel is always about the details and that's where this one truly excels.
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