Denver’s Cruise Room at the Oxford Hotel: The Longest Running Bar in Town

Denver boasts a treasure trove of historic destinations.

From the legendary Buckhorn Exchange, hailed as the city’s oldest dining establishment, to the venerable Four Mile House, a sentinel of history standing proud as Denver’s oldest enduring structure.

Yet, for those with an appetite for diving into the annals of time while savoring a libation, the Cruise Room emerges as an absolute gem.

Within its historic walls, an evocative ambiance reminiscent of the 1930s awaits. Recently, I embarked on my own visit to the Cruise Room, and here’s how the experience went.

What is the “Cruise Room?”

The Cruise Room is an iconic bar and lounge located in the Oxford Hotel in Lower Downtown (LoDo) Denver, Colorado. It is the longest operating bar in Denver, opening its doors on a very special day of December 5, 1933.

What was so special about this day?

Well, it marked a milestone that resonates with a significant turning point in American history.

On that very day, the curtains were drawn on the era of Prohibition, the nationwide ban on the production, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages.

Before its grand public debut, it had a clandestine life as a speakeasy, offering a secret haven for patrons to savor illicit libations during the Prohibition era. And after it opened in 1933, its doors never shuttered.

Denver's Cruise Room at the Oxford Hotel

Beyond its reputation as one of the region’s oldest bars, the Cruise Room draws visitors in with its distinctive art deco design, a masterpiece crafted by Charles Jaka.

Notably, Jaka is also the creative mind behind the iconic Observation Bar on the RMS Queen Mary, a historic ship that includes dining establishments, a museum, and a hotel, currently located in Long Beach, California. His design for this bar was a tribute to the very essence of the Queen Mary itself.

With its sleek lines and an aesthetic inspired by ocean liners, it’s no wonder that the bar earned its fitting moniker, the “Cruise Room,” seamlessly whisking patrons away on a voyage of style and nostalgia.

Denver's Cruise Room at the Oxford Hotel

Take note of the special shape of the bar which actually resembles a wine bottle.

Denver's Cruise Room at the Oxford Hotel

Gazing upon the walls, your attention might be drawn to the intricately carved panels adorned with succinct expressions. These panels pay homage to various ports of call for the Queen Mary, each encapsulating the essence of toasting traditions and cocktail culture from its respective location.

Each of the panels are original except for those of Italy and Germany which were reportedly taken down during World War II by soldiers staying at the hotel.

Denver's Cruise Room at the Oxford Hotel

You can find a nice selection of drinks at the bar ranging from an Old Fashioned to a Tom Collins but they are specifically known for their martinis.

As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, it’s always a little bit weird spending time in bars and checking them out but they had a good selection of non-alcoholic cocktails including the “bee sting” which I went with and thoroughly enjoyed.

The bartenders, while very busy, were also very on point.

As for food, it’s limited to small plates, such as oysters, olives, and cheese and charcuterie samplers. If you’re looking for a full meal, you can head to the hotel’s attached restaurant, Urban Farmer.

Denver's Cruise Room at the Oxford Hotel

At one end of the bar, an enticing jukebox awaits, though regrettably, it was out of service during my visit. Nevertheless, the air was alive with melodies as they continued to fill the bar.

Denver's Cruise Room at the Oxford Hotel

Something else that is special about the history of the bar is that it’s located in the historic Oxford Hotel, which holds the distinction of being the oldest operating hotel in Denver.

Established in 1891, the Oxford Hotel has a rich and storied past that is deeply intertwined with the city’s history. This iconic establishment has retained much of its original charm and architecture, offering visitors a glimpse into Denver’s past.

Interestingly, the Oxford Hotel has gained a reputation for being haunted. Over the years, there have been numerous reports of paranormal activity within the hotel’s premises.

The Cruise Room, as an integral part of the Oxford Hotel, also shares in this supernatural reputation, making it a unique and intriguing destination for both history enthusiasts and those interested in the paranormal. It’s haunting largely revolves around the “Postman.” 

Believed to be the apparition of a postman from the 1930s who lost his way while on a mission to deliver Christmas gifts, he is often seen sitting at the bar, ordering a beer, and then disappearing. When the bartender goes to check on him, they find the beer bottle is still full.

Final Word

If you’re in Denver looking for an interesting historic spot, then the Cruise Room is definitely a great contender. Its unique blend of Prohibition-era nostalgia, speakeasy heritage, and the vibrant spirit of post-repeal revelry make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in Denver’s rich past while savoring the present.

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