Check-In: Rolling up to the hotel, we were directed by friendly valet guys in bright red shirts who then told us we could leave our car at the entrance while we checked in. Immediately, we noticed that the "heaven" theme of the Mondrian Scottsdale had been completely eradicated. The white curtains were torn down and colorful paints were put up. The water fountain remained, although it looked a little lonely.
Check-in was done by an incredibly cheerful staffer. (Perhaps the bright colors do affect employee's moods?)
After we were given our room assignment, we took a moment to take in the lobby. Actually we needed more than a moment, there was so much to look at from the shades of orange, yellow and green on the walls to the booths in the center of the room to the spherical light fixtures that dangled in multiples throughout. After doing a quick tour of the lobby, we could hardly wait to get to our room.
Room Reaction: Room keys in hand, we walked out the entrance and the valet gave us two ways to get to our room--by walking or by car. We chose by car and this is what one of the things we loved most about the hotel. We could drive our car right up to our room door. (Parking is $14 a night.) Similarly, we could hop in our car and leave at anytime. No valet to deal with.
Each door is, of course, painted a different color and Room 4109 was bright pink. We found more pink in the couch in the sitting area, on the bedframe in the bedroom as well as on the wall.
But aside from bright and happy, the room was super comfy. The couch and the expansive ottoman/table made for a great place to cuddle up and watch a movie. The patio had lounge chairs in case we wanted a little more privacy during our tanning time. We also dug the little touches like the old school Arizona magazines from the 1960s, a vintage camera and a little catcus on the nightstand.
In both the seating room and the bedroom, there were flat-screen TVs framed by sheer white drapes. While a soft design touch, we thought it was a little odd as it didn't quite go with the rest of the room. However, we later learned that the TV drapes were leftover from the Mondrian days.
Rounding out the room offerings were a desk, a small table with two leather and wicker chairs and a large bathroom that was divided in two. One side of the bathroom featured a sink and the bathtub. The other side featured another sink, the toilet and the shower. You could even close a sliding door to separate the two bathrooms. We surmise that at one point, our suite was two regular guestrooms hence the slightly awkward bathroom layout.
Amenity Madness: The minibar offered Fever Tree sodas and waters while the bathroom featured our fave Lather toiletries and Saguaro bathrobes.
Internet Connect: We weren't able to sign onto our iPad the first night but we decided we could probably live without getting on the internet. But the next night, after Whitney Houston died, we just had to go online. But again, we kept getting an error code. We thought it might be an iPad issue but after calling Eleven Wireless tech support (the front desk could not help us) we learned that hotel's network was not connecting with the guest rooms. After we gave the tech support guy our IP address, we were online fast and easy. And it's free.
Pooltime: Relaxing by the hotel's main pool was a highlight of our stay. It was quiet, peaceful and yet we could still order food and drinks from the servers on staff. We camped out on ordinary lounge chairs but the hotel does have cabanas with flat-screens, couches fireplaces in them if you desire more privacy. Fun design fact: the pool's high-rise teak daybeds are remnants of the hotel's days as a James Hotel.
Dining In: We hit up Distrito, the hotel's in-house restaurant from Chef Jose Garces, the first night and it did not disappoint. The restaurant serves tapas-style portions so diners are encouraged to order a couple of plates. We started off with the house-made guacamole and chips ($10) before moving onto the mahi mahi fish tacos ($14). Our dining companion ordered the chicken tacos ($9) and the Costillas (pork spare ribs) with chipotle cider mustard BBQ sauce. ($16) We also scarfed down the insanely tasty plantains but the frijoles refritos ($3) and the esquitos ($6) were just so-so.
We capped off the meal with churros served with spicy valrhona chocolate and cajeta crema. But we actually took the churros to go back to our room. Yes, we know, gluttons. We even took our drinks back with us too. Our server told us so long as we were on hotel property we could take our drinks with us anywhere.
You can dine on fare from Distrito poolside as well and the hotel's Old Town Whiskey bar serves a gastro-pub sort of fare for dinner. We also did breakfast at the hotel through room service. The menu options were simple, classic American fare but at pretty reasonable prices.
Location, Location, Location: The Saguaro is literally (cowboy boot) steps away from Old Town's Main Street and Scottsdale roads. Should you crave old-timey western gear and turquoise jewelry you won't have very far to walk. The newer part of Scottsdale, near 5th Street and the Waterfront shopping area, is only a few miles away which you could walk or bike but given that this is the desert, driving is acceptable too.
What We Liked: The colorful decor, of course! It was as bright and happy as we imagined it would be. Service was top-notch but also very friendly. And we admit, we stole all the Lather toiletries out of the bathroom.
What We Didn't Like: The bathroom had a strange layout and the carpeting, while colorful, was a little thin. We were awoken in the middle of the night by the alarm clock, obviously set previously by another guest and at times the radiator/AC was too loud. Thankfully, there was an easy-to-see Off button which solved that problem quick.
Bottom Line: Despite the room quirks, the Saguaro has it all--great location, colorful rooms, a relaxing pool scene, delicious food and very affordable rates. We booked this trip back in November as part of the hotel's special Arizona Centennial rate at $100 a night. We actually opted for a pool view room for $120 a night and we were then upgraded at check-in to a garden view suite. Those start at around $300 a night. Meanwhile rooms for next weekend start at $189 a night.