Hotels in Empire, Colorado

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Empire Hotels

Blink and you’ll miss it, but the small town of Empire punches well above its weight when it comes to historic buildings and mountain charm. With fewer than 500 people living there, you’ll quickly begin recognizing the same friendly faces during your stay. The picturesque town gives you the chance to enjoy an overnight stay in the antique-stuffed surroundings of the oldest hotel in Colorado, before satisfying your stomach tasting hearty miner’s food - like crisp bacon bagels, with piles of French fries - in the original Hard Rock Café, which first opened here in 1934.

Things to see

While the ski resorts of Clear Creek County’s mountains may be the main draw to this part of Colorado, it would be a crime to overlook Empire. Forget the snow and try mountain boarding – which blends skateboarding with snowboarding – so you can feel the thrill of rolling down the town’s undulating scenery at speed. Or, slow the pace and view the snow at its most photogenic by hopping aboard the Georgetown Loop Historic Railroad - which rolls across long viaducts, and slices through snow-dusted forestry on its spectacular journey. Sit back and enjoy the view, or lean out the window to feel the crisp wind on your face, as you watch the train’s carriages curving around sweeping bends in the track. If the train ride sounds a little too gentle for your tastes, give yourself a good soaking while battling the crashing currents of Class IV river rapids at nearby Downieville.

Hotels in Empire

Throw yourself into the Empire experience by staying at Colorado’s oldest hotel, where you’ll sleep in a room that’s over a century old, and eat steak - dripping with flavor - in its charming restaurant. Another option is to venture further afield, and try somewhere a little more contemporary – such as a mountain resort hotel, where you can enjoy a taste of the French Alps. Stylish and spacious rooms contain huge double beds, flat-screen televisions, and toasty fireplaces - which keep the cold away on even the bitterest of nights. If the sun’s smiling, take advantage of it by lounging around in private outdoor seating areas - where you can relax to the sound of a stream’s gentle gurgle, and check your emails using free WiFi.

Where to stay

While some accommodation is available in Empire itself, nearby Georgetown offers a wider selection of cheap hotels. Visit Georgetown in fall, and you can stay surrounded by auburn rivers of color, which flow down through the mountain trees as the leaves begin to turn. Empire is superbly located for a visit if you’re staying at the nearby Loveland Ski Area, which is about 20 minutes away. A daytrip to the area’s trickling streams, and perfumed flowers, provides a refreshing break from the blanket of white found higher up in the mountains.

How to get to Empire

The easiest way to reach Empire is to hire a car and drive over from Denver - which takes less than an hour. You can reach Denver on Amtrak’s California Zephyr service – which offers stunning views of the Colorado Rockies - or by flying into the huge Denver International Airport, from cities across North America. On touchdown, you could book a shuttle bus to Empire from the airport, but chances are you’ll want to rent a car in order to fully explore the area, and make the most of your time here.

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