By Helen Olsson By Helen Olsson | July 3, 2023 | Culture Watches & Jewelry Food & Drink Style & Beauty Special-Galleries The Latest fashion Art real estate Shop Entertainment Community Drink Apple News Hotel Spa
THIS BUSTLING 16-BLOCK GRID SOUTH OF DOWNTOWN DENVER IS A WALKABLE DISTRICT PACKED WITH BOUTIQUES, HOTELS, RESTAURANTS, GALLERIES AND ALL MANNER OF WELLNESS OUTPOSTS.
Face Foundrié is a Cherry Creek North facial bar designed in black and white. PHOTO BY KALEN JESSE PHOTOGRAPHY
NAMED FOR A FLOWER SHOP that once occupied its sunny space, Forget Me Not is a cocktail bar in Cherry Creek North that bustles at all hours. I’m tucked into a burgundy banquette with Esther Lee Leach, who, I’ve decided, is the perfect arbiter of all things fabulous in this tony neighborhood (cherrycreeknorth.com). Hailing from Saint Lucia, Leach earned a master’s in journalism in London; worked as a fashion editor, stylist and TV producer; and has lived in New York and San Francisco. “Those places were all about the cafe culture and lots of independent retail shops and restaurants within your neighborhood,” she says. “When I moved to Denver, I wanted that lifestyle. A 15-minute city where you can walk everywhere and the neighborhood has everything you need.” Cherry Creek North fit the bill.
While I sip my Ce Soir, an expertly crafted mix of cognac, yellow chartreuse and Cynar, garnished with lemon zest, Leach shares her favorite places. For shoes, it’s Freebird. “I love them—I have 15 pairs,” she admits. Today she’s wearing a pair of the brand’s open silhouette boots with leather straps, buckles and block heels. She swears they are comfortable. “I walk everywhere in them,” she says. And remember, that’s the point. Her black knit blazer is from the nearby St. John boutique. For coffee, it’s Aviano. “They have two locations and both are buzzing,” she says. “What I love about Cherry Creek is that it’s full of women-owned independent retail.” In all, there are 150 locally owned businesses here.
Following Leach’s recommendations, I spend the next two days ambling around Cherry Creek North’s tree-lined 16-block grid just 3.5 miles from downtown Denver, popping into boutiques, art galleries, wellness centers and flower shops. In the heart of the district, Fillmore plaza is a hybrid street that’s periodically shut down to traffic for events like the Cherry Creek Arts Festival.
Lunch at the white-tablecloth Le Bilboquet transports us to Paris. My husband and I sit at a plush blue velvet banquette (“Esther’s favorite table,” the manager tells us), and the courses come and go—salad Niçoise with perfectly seared chunks of tuna and a burrata with jambon de bayonne. The service is impeccable. Crumbs disappear with a deft swipe of the table crumbler, dropped napkins are quickly replaced and servers set tiny velvet stools at cafe tables so the ladies don’t need to set their Chanel purses on the floor.
To counterbalance the decadence of all the cafes, cocktail joints and speakeasies, Cherry Creek North has dozens of salons, spas, fitness studios and aestheticians. If it’s a refresh you need, the place is a veritable fitness hub with dozens of studios for dance, cycling, climbing and boxing. There’s an array of wellness offerings, too, from a vitamin-packed IV drip to a sensory-free float session in water filled with a thousand pounds of Epsom salts. And at day’s end, you can retreat to one of the district’s five boutique hotels, from Clayton to Clio. During my two-day staycation, I discover that while Cherry Creek North makes for a perfect home base for Denverites like Leach, the place has evolved into a legit destination for visitors who’ll come for self-care, shopping and sipping curated cocktails on hotel rooftops.
Bloom by Anuschka is a colorful and fragrant place. BY KRISTEN HATGI SINK
At Clayton (claytondenver.com), a 63-room boutique hotel and members club, overnight guests get access to member-only spaces like the co-working lounge, the phone-free parlor bar and the rooftop pool and lounge. Spaces are meant to be less 9-5 grind and more social catalyst. And with an inclusive DEI-inspired approach to membership (originally managed by Leach when she first moved to the neighborhood), Clayton has upended the traditional notion of an exclusive private club.
Clayton Hotel & Members Club is home to Cretans and Chez Roc. PHOTO BY JIMENA PECK & CALEB ALVARADO
Executive chef Sosthène Kaboré helms the stoves at Le Bilboquet (lebilboquetdenver.com), a Parisian bistro serving classic French cuisine. Settle in for a leisurely lunch or sip rose at the pewter bar. The flagship restaurant opened on New York’s Upper East Side in the ’80s, and the concept has since expanded to Atlanta, the Hamptons, Palm Beach—and Cherry Creek. True Food Kitchen (truefoodkitchen.com), the brainchild of celebrity doctor Andrew Weil, champions “the art of well-eating” with sustainably sourced fare—from ancient grains to grass-fed beef. Located inside Hotel Clio, chef Richard Sandoval’s convivial Toro Latin Kitchen & Lounge (torodenver.com) delights the palate with Pan-Latin cuisine like smoked swordfish dip with plantains (Leach’s choice). The restaurant has weekly ceviche-making classes, and regulars stow their top-shelf tequila in private lockers in the open-concept lobby.
La Salade Niçoise at Le Bilboquet. PHOTO: COURTESY OF BILBOQUET
Toro serves Pan-Latin dishes inside Hotel Clio. PHOTO: BY BELECO
In the last year, Clayton revamped its culinary spaces. Cretans (cretansdenver.com) is a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant and wine bar where you can pair caviar sliders and hamachi crudo with an old fashioned crafted in a pour-over contraption at the bar. For a martini and Turkish pistachios flambéed table side, exit Clayton’s front door, walk a dozen steps down the sidewalk and enter through a nondescript royal blue door to Chez Roc (chezrocdenver.com), a speakeasy with zebra print walls, cozy booths and a DJ spinning tunes. Next door to Clayton, Forget Me Not (forgetmenotdenver.com) has intimate seating vignettes surrounding a large square bar; on a sunny day, grab a seat on the patio.
Mixology genius Nicole Lebedevitch crafts delightful cocktails at Forget Me Not. PHOTO: BY ERIC DONZELLA
Bloom by Anuschka (bloomdenver.com) has stunning floral arrangements but also a treasure trove of curated jewelry and home decor, including Cire Trudon candles from Paris set under blown-glass domes. For contemporary fashion brands, dedicated inhouse stylists and trunk shows, head for A Line Boutique (aline-online.com). Lou Collective (shoploucollective.com) stocks coveted fashion labels like Italy’s Tela and Australia’s DeMellier. If it’s a Versace place setting you seek, stop into White Peacock (whitepeacockdenver.com). The cases at Element 79 (element79jewelry.com) are filled with baubles from independent jewelry designers like Petra Class and Todd Reed. Family-owned since 1967, Lawrence Covell (lawrencecovell.com) carries luxury brands like Dries Van Noten and Khaite for her and Luciano Barbera and Eleventy for him.
Lou Collective is the perfect place for a mother-daughter shopping session. PHOTO BY S.BRENNER PHOTOGRAPHY
Reading labels to find safe body products can be daunting. Aillea (aillea.com) eliminates the guesswork, carrying only clean, nontoxic beauty brands for skincare, haircare and makeup. At Prime IV (primeivhydration.com), sit in a massage chair and enjoy an IV drip filled with a vitamin cocktail designed for what ails you, from inflammation to fatigue. Vive Float Studio (vivefloatstudio.com) re-imagines happy hour with deals on services like float therapy (in rooms with contoured ceilings rather than in tanks) and dry salt therapy (said to offer relief from respiratory and skin conditions). Face Foundrié (facefoundrie.com) has an extensive menu of facials, lash lifts and brow laminations in a modern open-air concept designed by founder Michele Henry.
Clean up your beauty regimen at Aillea. PHOTO: COURTESY OF AILLEA
Abend Gallery (abendgallery.com) has featured its 5x5 Project, an ever-evolving exhibition where artists create works on 5-inch by 5-inch panels, since 2015. A Cherry Creek staple for 30 years, Fascinations St. Fine Art (fascinationstart.com) recently connected the interiors of its three storefronts at Third and Detroit. Here you’ll find intricately detailed bronze sculptures by Colombian artist Nano Lopez and celebrity portraits by Saturday Night Live comedian Kevin Nealon.