5.3.19 / Denver / Colorado

Ryan Diggins Brings Boutique Design to Denver with his First Hotel, The Ramble

Including the first Death & Co. location outside of Manhattan

  • [Photo: Elliott Clark]

  • Here in New York it’s easy to take our assortment of hotel choices for granted, but when you move away from the coasts, there’s an entirely different scene that is slowly burgeoning. That’s what property developer and first-time-hotelier Ryan Diggins saw in Denver, one of the most popular cities in America, but one lacking in great boutique hotels. There was an opportunity to not only change that, but bring something collaborative and new to the world of hospitality. Now, four years in the making, The Ramble Hotel is newly opened, and is set to be the centerpiece of one of the most exciting neighborhoods in Colorado.

    The Ramble didn’t happen by accident; Diggins is a lifelong Denver resident, and much like savvy Brooklynites caught the trends early in the last decade, he saw something happening in the ultra-hip, industrial RiNo (River North) neighborhood. “I’ve been in this neighborhood, my office has been there for about 8 years now, so it kind of felt like if someone was going to do a boutique hotel it needed to be someone local. I kept thinking about it more and more and I thought, ‘why not me?'” Diggins has been a developer, mostly working on commercial properties, but this was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. “I was working with all these great chefs, and restaurants, but all we would do is build the building and lease them the space, at least that’s where my creative input ended. So with a hotel, it was really good outlet for me to go, I’m really opinionated on bars, I’m really opinionated on hotels, I want to be more involved than just giving it to somebody.”

  • [Photo: Adam Ripplinger with AMP Imagery]

  • The Ramble was a chance for Diggins to spread his wings, but he still had the wisdom not to fly too close to the sun. He excercised his input on the design and details of the property, but there was still an area where he wanted expertise. “I didn’t know how to run a hotel, but I do know how to create places of relevance that people want to hang out in and enjoy, so for me it had to start with this gathering place, which was the bar.” A frequent traveler, Diggins had come across Death & Co. through recommendations in the industry, and they quickly became the wishlist item for The Ramble. “Knowing how important the lobby was to the hotel, I knew we couldn’t operate a restaurant or bar; we needed a best-in-class operator to come run it themselves. The hotel doesn’t need to get in the way of how the bar should operate.” He approached Death & Co. with an ambitious idea: “We really want to create this grandiose hotel lobby bar, that harkens back to the Savoy in London, the original Hotel Ritz in Paris, really do something special with it, and the bar is the true focal point of the whole experience. And they’re like yeah, that’s exactly what we want to be doing now too. I think it was really the challenge they were looking for.”

  • [Photo: Elliott Clark]

  • When Diggins began designing the property, he looked for inspiration from two ends of the spectrum. RiNo is not dissimilar to Williamsburg a little while ago, and The Wythe served as a good example of how a hotel can merge its industrial roots with something comfortable and stylish. On the other hand, Diggins wanted there to be a sense of whimsy in the property, much like the feeling the Petit Ermitage evokes. His task was to blend those two ideas together, something few other places in Denver are even attempting, and the process wasn’t always easy. “It tested a lot of my own convictions, because never owning a hotel, the thought was I need to surround myself with some industry experts, a hotel architect, a hospitality interior designer, etc. The more I learned as I got into it, is I can see why a lot of hotels have no personality, no character. Because at some point the person with the vision like myself starts doubting themsleves and going ‘ok, you know best,’ and then it becomes like every other boring hotel in Denver.”

  • [Photo: Elliott Clark]

  • The Ramble opened this week, with the full Death & Co. offerings opening over the weekend. For Ryan, it’s the summation of a years-long journey into an industry he’s always observed from the outside. “The best way I would describe it is it’s an expression of myself and a lot of the ideas I’ve wanted to bring to life over the last few years, and now we’re getting to the moment where it’s being released to the world. There’s a little anxiety and nervousness to it because you don’t know how people are going to respond to what you think the city needs, the neighborhood needs, so it’s a fun risk.” It’s also the future he sees in the world of hotels, something many of us in the industry have felt ourselves. “I think collaboration is huge, because what you’re seeing now, a lot of the Ace off-shoots, people are just looking at Pinterest boards and then recreating them, but not rooted in anything.” If he hasn’t already found himself in the company of other hoteliers, he’s certainly thinking like one. “I’m debating 10 different types of screws to go on the top of a lamp harp, the size, the brushing of the brass, I had probably a million of those, and that will keep me up at night, what you screw on a lamp. But I think that’s what makes it fun.”

    The Ramble is open now at 1280 25th Street, Denver

  • [Ryan Diggins]

  • [Photo: Adam Ripplinger with AMP Imagery]

  • [Photo: Adam Ripplinger with AMP Imagery]

  • [Photo: Elliott Clark]