I have a confession to make: When I book a hotel, I rarely know anything about it beyond its basic amenities and how much it’s going to cost per night to stay there. As a result, it is often an incredibly pleasant surprise for me to discover the awesome history, quirky characters and interesting nuances that make a hotel particularly special (L’Auberge de Sedona, Alajuela Backpackers Hostel and CostaBaja Resort are three such examples).
As I drove my car up the driveway to the parking lot of Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, I found myself pondering the curious urban location of this Phoenix-based hotel. In the lobby, I immediately noticed two things: An occupied birdcage and a beautiful old mailbox. Furniture and carpet were a bit dated. The stain on the woodwork was dark. I felt like I had stepped back in time, a definite departure from the minimalist, sharp, white lobbies of some of the newer, crisper resorts that have been arriving on the scene as of late.
Within a few hours of my arrival, I learned the following about the Arizona Biltmore, which immediately helped shape my appreciation of the property:
> The Arizona Biltmore is so rich in history, there is an on-site archivist who researches and maintains a record of photography, written records and other artifacts that paint a comprehensive picture of the property’s past.
> Opened in 1929, the material and design choices made for the Arizona Biltmore were specifically made to represent the essence of the property.
> Though still classy, the Arizona Biltmore was super swanky in the day. Pictures from cocktail hours held in the 1920s and 1930s depict women in cocktail gowns and men in tuxedos. Kids weren’t allowed in the lobby for these social hours, which were held after dinner.
> There is a hidden speakeasy on the property! People could order bootleg gin here during prohibition. Right now, there is a discussion going on at the Arizona Biltmore about how this room can be incorporated into the design today.
> Everyone rich and famous seems to know about the Arizona Biltmore. In fact, every U.S. president since Hoover has been a guest at the property as have numerous musicians, actors, athletes and other politicians. It has also been featured in several films.
> The famous Biltmore Block was sculpted by Emry Kopta. It is found in many incarnations throughout the property.
Besides the awesome architecture and history on which the Arizona Biltmore has been built, it is a comfortable, convenient hotel. It has 740 rooms, four indoor and outdoor restaurants, eight swimming pools, several tennis courts, a full-service spa, access to a number of hiking trails and several shops. My suite was spacious and clean. The food served across the property is stellar, and the wait staff is among the most knowledgeable and helpful I’ve ever encountered. Everyone working at the Arizona Biltmore—from the valet to the bellhop and the front desk staff—was patient and low key, providing a truly personalized experience for each guest.
After staying at so many hotels, you’d think I’d be more in tune with the fact that so many of them have an awesome story beyond the key fobs, yet I continue to go in with few expectations and minimal knowledge of where I’m staying. In many cases, such as with the Arizona Biltmore, I am impressed with and excited to share what I found beyond the driveway of this classy, sophisticated and historic hotel.
Details about the Arizona Biltmore can be found here.
Disclaimer: My stay at the Arizona Biltmore was comped, but all opinions are my own.