Denver’s Design-Forward, Character-Filled Life House Lower Highlands Hotel

The brand's newest property, designed by their acclaimed in-house studio

Life House first came on the scene in 2017, garnering buzz for being an ambitious tech-driven hotel brand backed by Silicon Valley. But as its portfolio of stylish boutique properties grew, Life House’s lofty reputation was soon defined by one of its core philosophies: celebrating neighborhood heritage and identity through design. With its newest outpost in Denver’s Lower Highlands, Life House welcomes its first outpost outside the eastern seaboard (Miami and Nantucket are the other locations) with a prairie’s worth of excitement.

The ambitious creative vision, from interior design to branding and digital content creation, is all managed by Life House’s acclaimed in-house studio. “This helps us streamline the process rather than shipping out to other offices, allowing us to tell a more thoughtful story,” says VP of Design Jenny Bukovec. Bukovec and team have a three-part approach when tasked with developing a new property: build a locally rooted architectural narrative (they call it“the House”) that can be told through the lens of a local character (“the Protagonist”) using spirited, off-the-beaten-path cultural references (“the Personality”).

Life House Lower Highlands is modeled after a 19th century pioneer’s dwelling, blending Victorian-era opulence with elements of contemporary industrialism—a juxtaposition that can be spotted throughout historic LoHi. The five-story building’s eclectic exterior is contrasted by the homey ambiance of the interior, marked by a muted palette of dusty grays, mustards, rusty reds and saturated hues of bluebell. Further evoking the homestead theme are honey-hued leathers and cowhides, parquet patterning, textured amber glass and nods to Colorado wildflowers.

A collection of whimsical vintage objects is featured throughout the hotel; perhaps most impressive is the Victorian three-panel leather screen from the late 1890s, hand-painted in motifs that recall the frontier of the American Wild West. “We really tried to bring a lot of soul into the space rather than taking everything from off the shelf,” adds Bukovec, “and some of the millwork and furniture pieces, like the banquettes and bed frames, are produced in Colombia.” Walls are covered with illustrative textiles, including wallpapers and murals hand-drawn by Lei Xing, an artistic member of the Life House team. A salvaged Victorian-era walnut armoire is tucked into a cozy nook in the lobby area, featuring a curation of goods and apparel from Colorado vendors, as well as candles made with the hotel’s signature scent.

The bespoke fragrance—a soothing blend of bergamot, fig, vetiver and cedar—wafts from the lobby and bar area to the hallways, and up to the guest rooms. An array of room configurations comprises the 17-key hotel, many of which thoughtfully designed with a particular emphasis on group stay. There are luxe full-sized bunk chambers, several king suites and rooms that combine the two concepts to accommodate up to eight guests.

So rather than booking multiple rooms or sharing beds, group travelers can claim their own space within a single room. Bukovec explains that Life House’s proprietary bunk layout, which boasts privacy curtains and staircases instead of ladders, was developed for adult guests. “It feels like a built-in space and and we innovate on the concept with every new Life House,” she says.

Wildflower, the on-site restaurant and cocktail bar, is located on the ground floor. The seasonal vegetable-forward menu plays up Italian and Mexican flavors in its tapas-style dishes, paying homage to the LoHi district’s past as an enclave for immigrants from those countries. Dessert is presented with much fanfare. Pastries and confections are rolled out to diners on Victorian trolleys along with homemade lavender limoncello, amaro and Colorado meads (sweet honey wine), which also appear throughout the cocktail list.

While indoor dining is currently restricted in Denver, Wildflower offers delivery and takeout, plus in-room service for guests. A slew of other safety protocols have been implemented in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including temperature-taking of guests and staff members, requiring masks in public areas and maintaining socially distanced seating. Despite today’s obstacles, Life House promises to elevate the Lower Highlands’ burgeoning hospitality scene to Rocky Mountain heights.

Images courtesy of Life House