Passing through Denver

Our trip to ski Summit County included a brief stop in Denver. I wanted to comment on one weird and wacky restaurant and one hotel to avoid.

Comfort Inn Airport

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on April 5, 2003

Because we had an early flight heading home out of Denver, I wanted to stay near the airport on the last night of our trip. I chose the Comfort Inn Airport because 1) it looked like the closest hotel to the airport, 2) an AAA guidebook had it rated 3 diamonds out of a possible 4, and 3) the rate was very reasonable.

Unfortunately, although the place is fairly new, it has a look of slowly deteriorating despair about it. Surrounded by stunted landscape plantings and cars left slowly sinking into a sea of mud, the Comfort Inn Airport has lost whatever small bit of grandeur it may once have had. The light above the indoor hot tub kept going on and off, as if not quite sure that it had the will to keep making the effort. The walls between rooms are paper thin. I knew I was in trouble when the guy next door left a wakeup call for 4:30am. At least his television set was tuned to an interesting channel. I was afraid that if I sneezed, four or five people would say "Gezhunteidt!" and I was alone in the room at the time. The thin towels were a perfect match to the watery orange juice and lukewarm coffee flavored water served at the continental breakfast.

And what's up with the $1 phone activation charge added to my bill? I expect to get ripped off with all kinds of extra charges when staying at some plush hotel, but not here! (Hey, ever notice that if you stay at a roadside motel in the middle of nowhere, the vending machine gives you a can of coke for 75 cents... but if you stay at a top of the line hotel that costs five times as much, the same coke costs $2.50 or more? Don't they make enough charging $200 a night for the room? Seems like at that price they ought to GIVE you a Coke... and a small bag of peanuts. But I digress... )

Comfort Inn Airport
16921 East 32nd Avenue
Denver, Colorado

Casa Bonita

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on April 5, 2003

Every time we pass through Denver, we stop at Casa Bonita, one of the odder dining experiences available today. Is it a restaurant? A low budget indoor theme park? What?

In a shopping mall that's seen better days on the west side of Denver is a Mexican restaurant that serves food one step above Taco Bell and one step below most other restaurants. The all-you-can-eat "deluxe dinner" costs $8.99 with unlimited refills and you'll wait in a cafeteria-like line to order it. Then someone will show you to your table.

And that's where the fun begins! Nothing seems to go in a straight line. There's a maze of passages and dining spaces, ranging from a mine to a cave (plenty of stalagtites... and stalagmites, too!), to the governor's dining room to a tropical garden overlooking a waterfall... and more. Jaunty high schoolers perform as cliff divers, act their hearts out as gunfighters on the cliffs above the pool, or do a bit as pirates walking the plank, all ending with someone diving or falling into the water below--to the extreme joy of kids who try to stand close enough to get splashed. Strolling musicans might wander by. There's a regular schedule of puppet shows and once we saw kids bashing a pinata full of candy. Those mature enough to handle their fears might explore Black Bart's cave, but it could be too intense for really little kids--especially when they have to pass through a dragon's mouth to get out!

No one minds if you wander around to check the place out... and there's lot to see. Usually, parents hold a position at a table while the kids scout around from room to room, periodically coming back to announce what amazing thing they've just discovered. When it's all done, you've amused the kids and fed them too, topping off with all the sopapillas and honey anyone would want, for about $12-13 per person--meal, drink, tax, and tip.

Casa Bonita
6715 West Colfax Ave
Denver, Colorado, 80214
+1 303 232 5115

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