AZ Travel Guide
Earlier this year, we proclaimed that if we found ourselves in Phoenix for a spell, we'd be staying at the Clarendon Hotel and Suites. It had a knockout Mexican restaurant, a fresh, young vibe and a cool pool scene we were keen to explore.
Fast forward seven months and we've kept our promise with two stays, one just last week. Aside from being a magnet for locals, the Clarendon is handy for visitors, too. It's conveniently located in the Midtown-Downtown area of Phoenix, a short light-rail ride, drive or bike ride away from museums, bars and more laidback southwestern restaurants. (The hotel has loaner bikes, but we'd caution that you should take it easy in the summer.) It's also close to one of the city's major hospitals, St. Joseph's, and offers a rate for patients.
But aside from the food, location and the 24-Hour Hotel Stays we told you about recently, what's so good about this independent little desert gem? Read on...
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You may actually get to enjoy the pool at The Clarendon now.
Just the other month, we were all hopped up on a new hotel trend, 24-hour hotel stays, wishing, hoping, praying that more and more hotels would start offering this. And guess what? One hotel in Phoenix has.
The friendly, independent and social media savvy, Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix just launched this option a week ago, making the announcement on Facebook. Starting this month, the hotel has been allowing all one-night bookings to be 24-hour full-day stays. So if you check-in at 7pm, you don't need to check out until 7pm the next day. Best of all, the hotel is not charging any extra. We found rooms next week for $109 a night for either the Best Available Rate or the 24 Hour Room. And rates were super affordable too, at $109 a night.
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The Mystery Room at Arizona's Biltmore Resort is a mystery no more.
As we told you back in February, the Waldorf Astoria resort's historic Mystery Room has reopened as a speakeasy, which is actually what the Mystery Room initially was during Prohibition. Back then, it was called the "Men's Smoking Room" and required a secret password to enter. Inside was a well-stocked liquor cabinet that converted into a bookcase in the event of a raid. Men could purchase a "set up" of glass, ice and mixers for bootleg liquor. (The 20s version of bottle service, we suppose.) The resort even kept watch for police and would shine their high-powered spotlight into the Mystery Room if they ever saw patrol car outside.
Today, the speakeasy is open to both men and women and it's totally legal. Yet it's only open on Sunday evenings from 8 to 11pm. And it requires a password which will change weekly. The hotel's Twitter feed, @Arizona Biltmore, will post clues every week . Here was last week's passwordg:
“I am looking for the blind pig this evening” #speakeasy— ArizonaBiltmore (@ArizonaBiltmore) July 26, 2013
Fun fact: Speakeasies were also called "blind pigs."
If you've ever wandered the legendary Arizona Biltmore Resort, you've likely stumbled upon a photo of the "Mystery Room," though never the room itself as the location has long been — you guessed it — a mystery. That's all about to change; last week we were among the first to learn that this mysterious room will soon be revealed and restored to a version of its former self as a speakeasy lounge.
Back in the day, the cozy club masqueraded as a "Men's Smoking Room" requiring a secret password for entry and accessible only through a secret passage that started behind the resort and traveled up a hidden staircase from the kitchen. In many ways it was a true man cave, where gentlemen could kick back to smoke cigars and pipes, swap news about the stock market and sip on bootleg setups of gin and juice.
A clever fuzz buster was in place, too, with a spotlight that was officially known to guide guests at night, and unofficially used to search the desert for police raids. Whenever a raid approached, the spotlight would shine through the Mystery Room's stained glass roof, signaling guests to return to their rooms and the booze to be tucked back into the room's hidden bookshelf.
Go shorty, it's your birthday, Arizona Biltmore's gonna party like it's your birthday…
We'll warn you now: this song may be playing in the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore when you check in.
This historic Waldorf Astoria property totally digs you getting one year older, so they're offering a free room for you during your birthday month (a minimum of two nights booking is required). To make it a serious party, they're also throwing in a cupcake and balloons delivered straight to your room. Bring your own party hats, though.
We suggest rounding up an active crew as this birthday bash is going to be off the hizzle: there's eight swimming pools, including a 92-foot-long water slide; 18-hole PGA golf course; seven tennis courts; mountain biking; hiking; life-size chess lawn and a 22,000-square-foot spa.
We've been talking about Phoenix for a minute at HC, and with good reason. It seems like good things are happenin' around this town and we like nothing more to be around when places start hoppin'.
But we realized we'd missed a potentially cool little property. So next time we're in town, you can bet your bottom dollar we'll be staying at the Clarendon Hotel and Suites.
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We already told you a little about Hotel Palomar Phoenix, but, perhaps predictably, we started off talking about the food. The Blue Hound Kitchen restaurant ticked all of the right boxes—but what about the rooms?
We're happy to report that our stay here was one of the most comfortable city stays we've had in some time. The room was spacious, the bed comfy for both sleeping and working on an iPad while half-watching TV, and the bathroom was also roomy and had a distinct, clean and new feel about it.
We also loved the quirky decor that raises Kimptons from the same-old, same-old pack of city hotels. When traveling for business, a designer pattern here or funky piece of art there always makes us feel slightly cooler than our reason for travel that night might suggest.
Click through our gallery for more shots inside a Deluxe room, facing downtown Phoenix, across from all the sports stadiums.
When we stayed at the newish Hotel Palomar Phoenix recently, we were psyched. Not just for the free WiFi we get for being Kimpton InTouch Members (although that's pretty awesome), but because we knew the hotel was home to one of Kimpton's Directors of Pet Relations.
This is Bosco. We felt like stalkers, lurking near the front desk and peeking around corners to try and find him. Then, when we finally did spy him, he was skipping through the lobby for a walk, so we got to pet him but missed a photo op.
To console ourselves, we shuttled off to the hotel's restaurant, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails. There, we not only got a canine fix, scoping out all the dog-themed artwork and statues, but we also stuffed our faces with delicious, farm-to-table-good food.
Check out our gallery for shots of both the decor and the dishes.
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Yeah, we know: airport hotels are little more than a necessary evil.
Whether it's a delayed flight, a layover, a late arrival or a god-awful early departure the next day, our reasons for staying in one rarely involve the word fun. Or even "nice."
Imagine our relief then, when we arrived at the Aloft Phoenix Airport recently—after midnight, tired and cranky—and were rewarded with something closer to a city boutique hotel experience.
Check-in was fast and simple, and the front-desk guy made sure to tell us about the free WiFi. Bless.
Click through our gallery to check out our room and you'll understand why we wish we were staying longer than eight hours.
Miraval Resort & Spa has had besties Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King gush over it as the perfect girlfriend getaway locale, and this past May, blonde beauty Sharon Stone flew in to the desert oasis for a solo sojourn and the opening of the resort’s new Life in Balance Spa with Clarins.
We like to keep it fun but informative here at HotelChatter so our newest series, What is This? is devoted to odd-looking items in hotel rooms that upon first glance look as if they serve only a decorative purpose. But everything happens for a reason, right? And we're here to tell you what these things really do.
When you walk into the lobby of the W Scottsdale (and after you've inhaled the vanilla bourbon custom scent), your attention will be drawn to this mini Stonehenge formation of tree trunks just outside the W Gift Shop and before the front desk. Have you momentarily stepped outside again?
We know that packing the appropriate attire makes for a better trip, so we're helping you pack your bags for "dude-luxe" horseplay at Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.
Let's start with footwear. While barrel racing and penning dogies, all gringos and horseback enthusiasts should wear traditional western boots with smooth soles. Trot off in a dusty cloud of confidence wearing comfy Lucchese or Lamas to the Sonoran Desert Breakfast ride.
But toss in your tennis togs as well since full courts and lessons are available. And don't forget some good hiking boots for those guided nature walks, exploring the Sonoran Desert's diverse flora and fauna.
If you're into cycling, you might also want to bring your biking shoes (and some sweat wicking clothing) as the ranch offers mountain bikes with which you can ride through over 600 single- track trails framed by the Rincon and Catalina mountain ranges.