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Last week, Brett and I did something we haven’t done since our honeymoon: took a vacation alone. Yep. Solo. (Or I guess duo, in this case.) Sans kiddos. Weird, right? Just planning it made us dizzy with freedom. The criteria were: warm, water, very little to do. We wanted to be sure we didn’t need a vacation from our vacation once we got home. The goal was to come home relaxed and rejuvenated. And let me tell you, we did.
We thought we might go to Mexico and sit on a beach for the week. But we’d both been there too many times. San Francisco? Napa? London? I wanted to go somewhere totally new, but where? The last time I had my hair done, my stylist (Heather Strock at Salon Ciba…she’s awesome!) knew I was into mid-century design and said I had to check out the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, AZ and once we looked at it online, we knew this was the place. The self-proclaimed ‘Home of Hip’, this hotel has a long history of cooler than cool.
We were frankly happy there is very little to do in Scottsdale besides sit by a pool and start with Bloody Marys at 10am. (Though, the Frank Lloyd Wright house Taliesin West is there and, of course, I had to pilgrimage there. More on that later.) I had pretty high hopes for this place and let me tell you, it exceeded it from the moment we walked in.
We took the ‘Magical History Tour’ of the hotel with the wonderful guide Ace Bailey, who spent 90 minutes with us giving us background on the hotel, the famous people who had stayed there and the various incarnations of remodeling it had survived (including an awful one by Ramada).
So like any good blog post, I’m going to give you the before and afters with some commentary around this fabulous renovation that was completed in 2005.
One of the first things you will notice is the addition of the ‘tower’ above the original main entry of the hotel, which is another boutique hotel experience that is actually condos which can be rented. These are super fine and have especially super nice bathrooms. As seen below in the red room, this is more of a swimming pool than a bath tub. Though I can’t complain, in the photo of our room below that, the lovely bath tub was in the middle of the room. That’s right. And
I one could drink champagne and watch TV from it. Ummm…yeah.
Below is a photo of how the rooms used to look. Apparently, it was considered way more chic to have a hotel room that looked more like a living room. So one asks, where did they sleep? Guess. The sofa is a pull out bed. Can you imagine? Those things aren’t comfortable now. They must have been torturous back then. However, perhaps enough martinis took care of that.
The hotel also had a long history of celebrity guests. Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood had their wedding reception there. Other famous guests included Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, Janet Leigh, and on and on.
By far, my favorite part of the hotel was the pool. We had a double chaise lounge to ourselves most days. There is table service for food and drinks and you are never left unattended. Perhaps we had too much attention sometimes considering our poolside bill. Plus, what’s not to like about a pool with a martini glass design, complete with an olive for a lounge chair? One thing to note: The cabana rentals are CAH-RAZY expensive. Like $100 a day. I didn’t see the value in that at all. Most of the other hotels I’ve been to, cabanas are gratis on a first come first served basis or are way less expensive.
And this post would not be complete without a few lines about the food. The hotel restaurant Zuzu has gotten rave reviews. Brett and I agree they have one of the most amazing burgers we have ever had. Personally, I like the decor even more. Those hanging light fixtures would be SO easy to make (see here in my Pinterest board) and I love the turquoise chairs. Also, Hotel Valley Ho has the BEST happy hour ever. Cocktails, wine, beer and snack for $3 each from 4-7pm. Though I have to say there were one or two people who should have only been cut off after spending less than $10, if you know what I mean. (And no, I was not one of them.)
So clearly, I loved the place. And also for me, it was a wealth of ideas. I finally figured out what I want to do with the still unfinished rockery in front of the house. I realized that I want to add more turquoise in with the predominantly green and orange color palette. And I think I may way to replace the fireplace in the living room with a metal one like this in the lobby. Gorgeous. (Also, see those stone decorative blocks on the balcony? Those line the entire hotel and are 350lbs each! Yowza. Could you imagine one of those falling on you?)
Some commentary from the press below. I whole-heartedly agree with all of it and we will definitely be heading back there soon.
“The Valley Ho’s colors and midcentury modern decor hooked me from the minute we entered,” Los Angeles Times
“Now is one of the hottest spots to stay,” Chicago Sun Times
“Features bathtubs in the middle of some of its bedrooms,” The Wall Street Journal
“Like a girl doing the twist when everyone else is doing downward dog (VH Spa),” Conde Nast Traveler “Hot List”
“The retro-chic guest rooms now have sliding glass walls , terraces overlooking Camelback Mountain and oversized circular tubs,” Travel + Leisure
“Hotel Valley Ho is once again in the spotlight. Today it’s all about [ZuZu],” Bon Appetit “Restaurant Top Tables”