It all comes together as I walk the halls of the Cliff House, peering at the faces and customs of bygone eras captured in historic photographs that line the walls. I’m standing in the same setting more than a century after the earliest of these images were taken.
There are photos of floods and fires that ravaged the Cliff House. There are images of working-class employees and wealthy dignitaries, all forging lives in a young new West. If this historic hotel is haunted, it’s with the Colorado spirit.
The Cliff House has come a long way since its origins as a stagecoach stop and its hotel genesis in 1874, but it’s still a perfect base for an authentic Colorado experience—this time an active one to refresh body, mind and spirit. Here’s the itinerary.
Check in to your spacious Victorian style suite named for one of the visiting luminaries of the hotel’s heyday: Buffalo Bill Cody, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Katherine Lee Bates and others. A suite costs a little more, but extra touches like window turrets, fireplaces, steam showers and heated towel racks make it worthwhile and provide you with luxuries those silver barons of old could only dream of.
You might be tempted to stay and soak in your oversize, jetted tub. Instead, head to nearby SunWater Spa, slip into the mineral waters of a cedar soaking pool on the deck and watch the sunset dance over Pikes Peak. (Read more about the SunWater here.)
Your new sense of bliss will carry you to a gourmet dining experience back at the Cliff House’s Dining Room. Don’t be surprised if Chef Chris Lynch sends out an amuse-bouche, in our case chevre and freshly pickled cucumber rolled inside capicola. For the main course, follow the Colorado theme with the succulent grilled elk rib-eye in lingonberry demi-glace.
In the morning, you might want a quick fuel-up from the included breakfast buffet. Then it’s off to the Manitou Incline. You get to forgo the stress and fees of Ruxton Avenue parking; instead, walk right over and up the famous staircase. Your lungs will burn. Your quads will cry out. And your spirit will soar, once you catch your breath, at the top of the 2,744-stair bucket-list-worthy workout. The view brings your entire stay into focus. There are the stately spires of the Cliff House and the beckoning pools of the SunWater, and you just might be able to see your house from here.
After descending, head for brunch at Adam’s Mountain Cafe. Your huevos rancheros or runner’s special—whole grain pancakes, fresh fruit and sherry cream potatoes—will never taste better.
If you’ve got time, head back to the SunWater for a muscle-relaxing final soak. You’ll head home with your body and spirit elevated.
Winter rates start at approximately $100; thecliffhouse.com
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