People dine at Of a Kind, the Clayton Members Club and Hotel’s new restaurant, on opening night Thursday, April 29, in Denver. While areas of the Clayton Members Club and Hotel are members only, the public can access most food and drink spaces or book a hotel room. (Michael Ciaglo, Special to the Denver Post)
For proof that Denver’s cosmopolitan development is alive and well coming out of the pandemic, look no further than Cherry Creek at the new Clayton Members Club and Hotel.
The sparkly boutique lodging with a ground-floor restaurant and cafe has opened the doors to its lobby-side businesses, with 63 hotel rooms, a rooftop lounge and a speakeasy soon to follow.
First and foremost: While “members club” is right there in the name, anyone can stop in for dinner or drinks at its restaurant, Of a Kind; the cafe, Oak Market; and Five Nines speakeasy (opening in June).
And, honestly, you should if you’ve been feeling cooped up at home for months and need an escape ahead of embarking on any real travel.
Like other Cherry Creek hotels and residences from local developer BMC Investments, Clayton appears to be on a mission to make the stuffy, monied neighborhood it resides in feel more relevant. Which is a tall order, especially when the latest solution is a members club with a $3,000 annual price tag. (BMC CEO Matt Joblon has had varying levels of success in his endeavor; Halcyon and its restaurants are one example, while Le Bilboquet at the St. Paul Collection is another.)
But the Clayton wants to set itself apart by focusing on hiring a diverse staff as well as attracting diverse paying members. When asked about membership diversity, a representative said the club doesn’t release any member-specific statistics. But upon opening, Clayton’s membership selection committee included just under 50% BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) representation, while BIPOC “artists, partners and collaborators,” or those with a discounted membership fee in exchange for shared “talents with the Clayton community,” comprised 30% of member-partners.
For all of its members, Clayton offers an urban escape with plenty of good food, drink and activities — from rooftop lounge and co-working access to events and programming.
It’s not a new model, either; see fraternities, country clubs, golf courses, etc… . Soho House, which started in 1995 in London before expanding around the world (including eight U.S. locations), has created a similar hotel and club setup for its target audience, the well-to-do creative class.
But for the rest of us who can’t afford a membership priced at $3,000 a year (plus a $500 joining fee), the public spaces at the new Denver hotel are our next best option.
No surprises here, but dinner still comes with hotel or downtown prices, like $28 for a roasted half chicken, $24 for a small plate of crab gnocchi, and $20 for a tuna tartare and lettuce wrap appetizer. (The tartare was delicious, with a lemon vinaigrette on the little gem lettuces and flavor-pops of anchovy and mustard in every chilled bite of raw tuna.)
The club wisely pulled in former LA-based chef Brandon Duley, who has worked at Gjelina and Ardor at The West Hollywood Edition, to create a menu that would rise above hotel-restaurant status.
And Duley’s bold flavors in dishes like a chicken shawarma hummus with house pita bread ($15), and berbere-rubbed lamb shank with farro and preserved lemon yogurt ($42) could rise to cult status.
If the whole thing still sounds too extravagant, I hear you. But if you’re curious, opt for a bar seat with a cocktail or glass of wine and a snack to share. That, or go for an affogato at the cafe, made with local Little Owl espresso and Smith + Canon ice cream, and then just wander the pretty (if slightly clubby) spaces.
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