Sandwiched between I-80 and I-40, if you’re willing to go and venture out to find it, is an adorable little town nestled in the shadow of the Rockies called Durango, Colorado. Driving into Durango is a bit like stepping back in time. Dozens of Hollywood films have been filmed in Durango including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as well as How the West was Won and even City Slickers. If you’re hoping to get a sense of what the old west was like back in the day the Strater Hotel is the place to stay.
If you’re driving across the country in the United States finding a hotel usually isn’t a problem, but finding a really cool place to stay along the way can be tough. (For the record, really cool in my book involves furniture with top secret hidden compartments that the staff can reveal to you.)
The Strater Hotel (which was originally called the Strater House) was established in 1887, and is a registered national historic landmark. The hotel houses the world’s largest collection of antique American Victorian walnut furniture. During a 1963, trip the owners found the walnut bed in room 322 that ended up inspiring them to do the entire hotel in American Victorian-era walnut furniture.
Each of the 93 rooms in the hotel are filled with Wild West objects and Victorian pieces. The original owner of the hotel, Henry Strater, had never been in the hotel business before. Funny enough, one of the biggest mistakes Strater encountered as a first time hotelier was neglecting to include closets in all of the original rooms.
Prolific American Western novelist Louis L’Amour is said to have always asked for room 222 (above the Diamond Belle Saloon) when he stayed at the Strater for a full month every summer. Allegedly the piano music helped him set the tone for his novels. (He penned 101 books before his death in 1988.)
…but it’s the Strater Hotel’s fourth floor, not the Diamond Belle Saloon, that has likely seen the most action over the years. Reputedly the fourth floor was often known as the “monkey hall” because of how often the local prostitutes would rendezvous with traveling salesmen back in the day.
Renovations are constantly being done in order to preserve the hotel and the charge is led by Rod Barker (the hotel was purchased by the Barker family in the 1940s).
An enormous amount of time, effort and money is involved in restorations. In fact, the hotel notes that as much as 30 yards of plush velvet may be required in order to properly restore a single window’s drapes and valances.
The Strater Hotel is the perfect pit stop whether you’re just road tripping across the United States this summer or just interested in experiencing a bit of American history. It’s worth noting that the warm weather in Durango lends itself to cowboy gunfights, live music and theater performances at the Strater Hotel. Plus it’s only an hour away from Mesa Verde National Park.
699 Main Avenue
Durango, Colorado 81301
Phone: (800) 247-4431
Pricing (All in USD): Rooms from around $114.00 and up depending on the room size, date and availability.