The Vibe: Tucked in the corner of Scottdale’s downtown Arts District, the Hotel Valley Ho has a playful energy that transports you back in time the moment you step onto the property. This luxury, boutique hotel is known for his retro vibes and legendary past. Expect to see a young and hip crowd that loves the pool and the hotel’s close proximity to the downtown shops and restaurants.
The Facts: Originally opening in the winter of 1956, the Hotel Valley Ho was built during a time when visitors (including Hollywood A-listers fleeing from the paparazzi) were flocking to Scottsdale to escape the winter cold. The first hotel in Scottsdale to offer air conditioning, it was also the first to employ a Southwestern architecture and a European plan. The hotel was also a place of respite for many Hollywood celebrities during the ’50s and ’60s, with notable guests including Bing Cosby, Marilyn Monroe, Janet Leigh and Clark Gable, not to mention the hotel hosted the wedding of Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner in 1957.
Since then the hotel has undergone quite a transformation. In 2005, an $80 million restoration revitalized the property, with the tower later reopening in 2008. All of the 191 guest rooms are done in a mid-century modern style that plays to the retro atmosphere. Bold pops of colours, particularly their signature orange and turquoise, can be seen throughout the property. There are also tons of whimsical details throughout the space, from the cool coffee table books to the cheeky signage throughout the guest rooms.
One of the biggest draws is the hotel’s OH Pool Bar + Cabanas. Also open to non-registered hotel guests, there’s a full service bar and kitchen, where hand-crafted cocktails and live entertainment all summer keep the party going long past happy hour. Featuring eight private cabanas, a fire pit, water feature and two Jacuzzis, it’s also been named one of the “World’s Coolest Pools” by Travel + Leisure.
You’ll also find a full-service spa, VH Spa for Vitality + Health, which features eight treatment rooms, a spa deck for relaxing, a 24-hour high-tech fitness centre, and a studio with a glass wall that opens onto the deck for amazing fresh-air workouts.
ZuZu is the hotel’s dining option, serving up classic American fare in a ’50s-inspired setting. Prepare to be serenaded with retro tunes from The Beach Boys to Elvis playing on the sound system. Weekend brunch is a popular affair and it’s a solid menu to boot with decadent dishes like the Red Velvet Waffles, Stuffed French Toast and The Famous ZuZu Burger, as well as healthy options including Homemade Granola, Garden Fresh Veggie Omelet and Tuscan Kale Salad. The hotel also offers 24-hour room service, so you can indulge in in-room dining at your leisure.
The Experience: Just off the main drag in downtown Scottsdale, our first greeting was with the valet parking attendant who welcomed us at the main entrance, happily obliging to park our car while a bellhop quickly whisked our luggage into the main lobby so we could proceed to check-in.
Our first impression made us feel like we had gone back to the Mad Men era. The pops of orange and mid-century modern furniture felt retro cool. The lobby was quiet, so it didn’t take long to get checked into our rooms in the Tower.
Booked into the Tower Suite and Tower Signature Guest Room that adjoined, we were pleasantly surprised with just how spacious it was. The details throughout made it feel less like a hotel and more like a condo, where you could easily be comfortable staying for long periods of time.
There are plugs everywhere and free Wi-Fi (if you select the basic level), so charging up your devices is a cinch whether you’re working at the desk or need your phone to wake you up beside your bed. There were a lot of light switches and we couldn’t for the life of us figure out how to operate the automatic blinds.
It was a sweltering hot day and we were tempted to hit up the pool, but it was super busy with what appeared to be a corporate event overtaking the area. The pool bar was also packed, with guests in swimsuits taken respite under the overhead cooling misters. Not in our swimsuits, we opted to take advantage of Happy Hour at ZuZu’s, sipping on hand-crafted cocktails and sharing bites (the Twice Cooked Crispy Fries are worth it).
The 300-thread count linens on the bed were more than plush enough and the organic Red Flower bath amenities were lovely to use in the shower. We discovered the complimentary coffee machine in the morning, but weren’t too crazy about the taste and ended up waiting for breakfast to get caffeinated. Taking advantage of the heat, we sat outside for breakfast, both ordering the light and tasty Garden Fresh Veggie Omelet.
When it came to getting around from the hotel, people typically opt to drive, mostly for the fact the afternoon heat is sweltering. Even if you’re just taking a leisurely stroll you’re pretty much dripping in sweat within five minutes. One evening when we didn’t feel like driving, a bellhop suggested a drive from AZ Limo, who picked us up in his Escalade and had an affordable rate of $7 for one-way wherever we wanted to go. Dan was young, friendly and also knew a lot about the area which was extremely helpful.
Hip and modern, we loved the lively vibe and retro details. The location is also perfect if you want to be close to the action of downtown.
Good to Know: For those driving (around here that’s pretty much a given), underground valet parking is $15 per vehicle per night. Nearby self parking is available, but it’s not obvious. Be sure to request it when you pull up to the entrance.
Room to Book: Book yourself into a room in the tower overlooking the pool and downtown Scottsdale. It will make you feel like you’re in the midst of the action. For longer stays or those with families, the Tower Suite is extremely spacious, complete with a full-service kitchen, living room, and full-size washer and dryer. A smaller, but just as lovely room is the Tower Signature Guest Room.
Where to Find:
Hotel Valley Ho
6850 E Main Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85251