The Diplomat is a blend of three symbols of 1960 U.S.A.: the automobile, the fine hotel, and the top-flight restaurant and lounge. — Denver Post, May 15, 1960
Denver was abuzz on May 16, 1960, when a new concept hotel opened at 1840 Sherman Street.
The Diplomat Motor Hotel (today the site of a parking lot) marketed itself as being "dramatically distinctive." The three-story, $1.5 million hotel was built in Capitol Hill at a site that had once been occupied by "several century-old tenements."
Nestled in what was then "a quiet neighborhood without a traffic problem," the Diplomat boasted that guests would only need to take a short walk to "major convention hotels and department stores downtown." Tranquility and proximity!
But if one did prefer to drive, the Diplomat was exceptionally accommodating. Guests could pull their vehicles up to the "auto lobby" and hand their keys to a valet. Cars were taken to a 200-car underground parking garage tucked beneath the hotel.
The Diplomat was designed by renowned Denver architect, Richard L. Crowther, who described the hotel's look as "luxurious informality." The structure was essentially a U-shape design with a central patio court featuring a concrete and white marble "hanging" swimming pool.
Inside, the lobby, dining and cocktail areas mingled in an open-concept floor plan which mimicked "early European diplomatic corps headquarters." The Los Angeles interior design firm Albert Parvin Co. (which also decorated the Flamingo, Tropicana and Sands hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada) oversaw the Diplomat's interior design. Decor elements included rosewood paneling; putty-colored textured vinyl walls; white quartz terrazzo flooring; and custom brown, gold and apricot carpeting. Coats of arms and metal wall insignia in gold tint decorated the walls.
The "dramatically distinctive" feel the Diplomat marketed to guests was brought to life in the hotel's dining room, which featured the cuisine of Chef Everett Sisson (who held the distinction of cooking for President Eisenhower while he vacationed in Palm Springs in 1959) and the service of Greek maitre 'd Chris Leventis. Menus took the form of parchment scrolls, and guests were treated to such dishes as "flaming ring" steak, "a large beef tenderloin for two persons marinated in a special wine sauce, then charcoal broiled and served on a wood plank that has a 'flaming ring' mechanism around its edges."
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