15 Historic Hotels in Arizona

Dec 8, 2013

When it comes to lodging, Arizona has some pretty unique hotels to choose from. Each of the ones on my list features a rich history that gives them character.

So without further ado, here is my list of 15 historic hotels in Arizona.

15. Hotel St. Michael

Opened in 1901 on the site of the former Hotel Burke (which burned down), the Hotel St. Michael quickly became the cornerstone of "Whiskey Row." The 3-story building was designed by D.W. Miller in the Second Renaissance Revival style.

The hotel has hosted many distinguished visitors including President Theodore Roosevelt, John L. Sullivan, Jake Kilrain, Tom Mix, Zane Grey, and Senator Barry Goldwater.
(Description courtesy of Prescott Historical Society).

Opened: June 1, 1901
Address: 205 W Gurley St, Prescott, AZ 86301
Style: Second Renaissance Revival

14. Jerome Grand Hotel

Built in 1926 as a hospital for the employees of the United Verde mine, it was closed in 1950. It sat unused for 44 years until 1994, when it was purchased and converted to a hotel. This is a hotspot for ghost sightings and encounters, with many believing the hotel to be haunted by the spirits of those who died there. It also features a restaurant called "The Asylum."

Year Built: 1926
Address: 200 Hill St, Jerome, AZ 86331
Style: Mission Revival

13. Hotel Connor

One of the oldest buildings in Jerome, the Hotel Connor is rich with history. Built by David Connor in 1898, the hotel burned multiple times but was always rebuilt thanks to the owner's belief in insurance. Home to the legendary Spirit Room bar, the Connor Hotel was closed in 1988 due to building code violations. It celebrated a grand reopening as the Connor Hotel in the year 2000.

Year Built: 1898
Address: 164 Main St, Jerome, AZ 86331
Style: red brick

12. Copper Queen Hotel

Located in the mining town of Bisbee, the Copper Queen Hotel lays claim to being the longest continuously-operated hotel in Arizona. Phelps Dodge Corporation began construction of the 52-room hotel in 1898 as a place for guests and potential investors to stay while visiting the mine.

The copper industry went into decline in the 1950s, and mining in Bisbee ceased entirely in 1975. Today, the town has reinvented itself as an artistic haven and tourist destination. The Copper Queen Hotel has an extensive ghost register with numerous reports of voices, falling objects, and strange presences felt by guests.

Year Built: 1902
Address: 11 Howell Ave, Bisbee, AZ 85603
Style: Victorian Italian Villa

11. Royal Arcadia Hacienda

Tucked away in the quiet Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix, the Royal Arcadia Hacienda is a secluded retreat for those with deep pockets. The huge property was built in the 1922 and was originally part of a 120-acre plantation for Date Palm trees. The home's Territorial architecture is unique for Phoenix and is not commonly seen outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

There are a total of 10 bedrooms, 10.5 bathrooms, and 5 fireplaces among the 5 buildings. The main building is a 5,000 square foot house surrounded by four casitas ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet each. The lush grounds feature date palm trees, an aviary, and a 60-foot long heated lap pool.

A nightly stay will cost about $1,000 to $2,000 per night with a 3-night minimum. Wow!

Year Built: 1922
Address: 4203 E Hazelwood St, Phoenix, AZ 85018
Style: Territorial

10. Hotel Monte Vista

This beautiful red brick building is situated in the heart of Downtown Flagstaff. The hotel was constructed in 1926 with local taxpayers money through a municipal bond spearheaded by local resident Vesto Melvin Slipher. An Indiana native, he relocated to Flagstaff in 1909 and spent his entire career working at Lowell Observatory. He became quite accomplished, winning many prestigious awards and recognitions.

Upon its completion, the Hotel Monte Vista was the tallest building in Flagstaff. During prohibition, it was the town's speakeasy and also offered illegal slot machines. The hotel has hosted numerous famous guests as Jane Russell, Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy, John Wayne and Bing Crosby. It is rumored to be haunted by several ghosts.

The Hotel Monte Vista is still an active hotel and is conveniently located within walking distance to many hip restaurants, bars, and nightlife.

Opened: January 1, 1927
Address: 100 N San Francisco St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Style: Spanish Revival

9. Hotel Valley Ho

The Hotel Valley Ho opened in Scottsdale in 1956 with 99 rooms. Designed by Edward L. Varney, the hotel's modern styling was far ahead of its time. With its luxury amenities and far from the prying eyes of Hollywood paparazzi, the hotel was a welcome retreat for stars such as Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis, and Janet Leigh.

The Valley Ho was acquired by Ramada in 1973 and fell into decline, finally closing in 2001. The hotel came close to being torn down but was saved by a group of investors who began an $80 million restoration in 2004. The hotel reopened on December 20, 2005 and is considered one of the finest mid-century modern hotels in the country.

Opened: December 20, 1956
Address: 6850 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Style: Mid-Century Modern

8. Royal Palms Resort

Back in 1929, New York industrialist and financier Delos Cooke purchased 65 acres of land along Camelback Road. It was here that he built a 3,500-square foot winter home for him and his wife which they called El Vernadero.

They decorated their Spanish Colonial retreat with many worldly treasures, including a 250-year old fountain. They planted gardens with many exotic species of plants and over 900 palm trees! Cooke passed away in 1931 and his home was purchased by a group of investors who expanded the property, adding 21 guest rooms and opening it as the Royal Palms in 1948. Today, it offers 119 guestrooms in a lush, Mediterranean-style setting.

Year Built: 1929
Address: 5200 East Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018
Style: Spanish Colonial

7. Hotel San Carlos
Located in downtown Phoenix, the Hotel San Carlos is a fantastic time capsule from the Gilded Age. Opened in 1928, the San Carlos was the most modern hotel in the southwestern United States. It was the first high-rise hotel in Phoenix, the first with elevators, and the first hotel in Arizona with air conditioning! Each of the 128 guest rooms also had steam heat with radiators and chilled ice water, very cutting-edge for the time.

The hotel's lobby is tiled with Italian travertine and features Austrian crystal chandeliers and copper-clad elevator doors. It was a popular hangout for Hollywood celebrities including Mae West, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Marilyn Monroe, Spencer Tracy, Jean Harlow, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Gene Autry, and many others. For over 80 years, the San Carlos has served guests with style and comfort.

Opened March 19, 1928
Address: 202 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Style: Italian Renaissance

6. Camelback Inn (now JW Marriott)

John Cromwell Lincoln was an inventor and a businessman from Ohio. As the founder of Lincoln Electric, he made millions from designing and patenting an arc welder after dropping out of college.

At age 65, John C. Lincoln moved out to Arizona with his wife, who was diagnosed with tuberculosis. In 1931, he bought 320 acres of land in present-day Paradise Valley for just $20 per acre. Lincoln ran into Jack Stewart, a sports writer who wanted to build a pueblo-style resort as an alternative to the dude ranches which were very popular at the time. The two collaborated to build the Camelback Inn, which opened with room for 77 guests in December 1936.

In spite of its remote location, the Camelback Inn quickly became a popular destination among the wealthy. Stewart operated the now 170-room resort until 1968 when it was purchased by Bill Marriott. Upgrades and expansions have brought the 453-room Camelback Inn into the 21st century with all modern amenities and luxuries. It is one of only three resorts in America to have maintained a 5-Diamond rating with AAA since the award began in 1975.

Opened: December 15, 1936
Address: 5402 E Lincoln Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85253
Style: Pueblo Revival with Hacienda-style Main Lodge

5. Wigwam Resort
Back in 1918, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company had purchased 16,000 acres of land in Arizona to grow cotton. The company needed a place for guests and visiting executives to stay, so they built a small 12-person hotel. It expanded and opened to the public in 1929 as the Wigwam Resort.

Today, this 331-room resort features four swimming pools, a world-class spa center, and two championship golf courses. Located in Litchfield Park, it has been a luxury getaway in Arizona for more than 80 years.

Opened: November 25, 1929
Address: 300 East Wigwam Blvd., Litchfield Park, Arizona 85340
Style: Pueblo Revival

4. El Tovar Lodge

Located at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, the El Tovar is a landmark attraction situated next to one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Whether warming yourself by the fire in the lobby or enjoying an elegant dinner at the restaurant, the El Tovar offers year round comfort in a true lodge setting.

Built in 1905, the El Tovar has been an icon of the Grand Canyon National Park for over a century. Designed by Charles Whittlesey (who also built the Riordan Mansion in Flagstaff), this 3-story hotel is built in the Arts and Crafts style which features exposed beams and lots of natural wood. There are just 78 guest rooms and suites, so accommodations are often booked months in advance. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974.

Opened: January 14, 1905
Address: 1 El Tovar Rd, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023
Style: Arts and Crafts

3. Wigwam Motel

Located along historic Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona, the Wigwam Motel is one of the most iconic places to sleep in the American Southwest. Opened in 1950, it was part of a chain of 7 similar motels. Today, it is one of three remaining (the others are in Cave City, Kentucky and Rialto, California).

The name is a bit of a misnomer, as the structures are actually conical skin tepees, not wigwams. They are named after a type of portable shelter that was used by Native Americans in the Great Plains and in parts of the Southwest.

For $62.00 a night plus tax, you can sleep in a double-bed tepee with air conditioning and a color TV. This place really exemplifies 1950s roadside architecture like no other!

Opened: 1950
Address: 811 West Hopi Dr., Holbrook, AZ
Style: eclectic/roadside

2. Hotel Congress

Located in downtown Tucson, this hotel is directly across the street from the famous Rialto Theater. This hotel made its way into the history books on January 24, 1934 when the famous bank robber John Dillinger and several members of his gang were arrested there by Tucson police.

According to the story, Dillinger and his gang were hiding out at the hotel when a fire broke out. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they were given unusually large tips for retrieving the guests' bags. Suspicious, the firefighters alerted the police and Dillinger was captured. He was transported to Michigan for trial, and later escaped from the jail.

With 40 guest rooms, a restaurant, and live entertainment, the Hotel Congress is a thriving part of downtown Tucson's present as well as its past.

Opened: 1919
Address: 311 E Congress St, Tucson, AZ 85701
Style: unknown

1. Arizona Biltmore

Okay, let's set the record straight: the Arizona Biltmore was NOT built by Frank Lloyd Wright. The hotel's design was done by Albert C. McArthur using a "textile block" construction that was popularized by Wright. Other elements of the hotel's architecture are also heavily influenced by Wright's style, but again, this was not his project.

Since it opened on  February 23, 1929, the Arizona Biltmore has hosted movie stars, celebrities, and every U.S. President from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush. Other celebrity guests include Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan on their honeymoon.

The Biltmore was where Bing Crosby wrote the lyrics to "White Christmas" and where the cocktail "tequila sunrise" was invented. It is without a doubt one of the most famous hotels in Arizona.

Today, this hotel is part of the Waldorf-Astoria chain and features 739 guestrooms and 86 suites, along with a championship golf course, world-class spa, fitness center, and meeting facilities in addition to four fine restaurants.

Opened: February 23, 1929
Address: 2400 E Missouri Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85016
Style: Wright-influenced "Biltmore Block" with Mission Style furnishings

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