The hotel may be old, but the energy is young and vibrant
Opened in 1956, Hotel Valley Ho is perhaps the best-known property in Scottsdale, Ariz. Walking into the lobby is like hopping inside a time machine to the Swinging Sixties. Taking a seat in the lobby, with its cantilevered upper balcony made from geometric stone and classic midcentury conical fireplace, you might expect to run into Zsa Zsa Gabor, Bing Crosby or Tony Curtis, all of which spent time here during its heyday. They loved the city as an alternative to Palm Springs because it was too far for the prying eyes of the paparazzi, plus the year-round air conditioning that was a rarity at the time.
Today, the Hotel Valley Ho crowd is more eclectic and can include business travelers, bachelorette parties or the party set, who come for the wild weekend pool bashes. This was also the site of a short-lived Trader Vic’s locale, and the tiki lovers still flock every year for the Tiki Oasis convention. There’s replicas of Fender guitars in the lobby as a nod to the company, whose headquarters are in town, and shops where you can pick up souvenirs and essentials like local wine and snacks. Perhaps the most notable lobby fixture, however, is Wrigley, the hotel’s canine employee.
Steps from Old Scottsdale and a short ride from everything else
Hotel Valley Ho is tucked among the palm trees, set a block from the Arizona Canal, which divides “old” and “new” Scottsdale and has a trail on both sides for biking and walking. It’s close to plenty of bars and restaurants, along with the free downtown Scottsdale Trolley, which stops right in front of the hotel and goes to the Fashion Square mall and through the city’s Arts District. There’s plenty within walking distance, but definitely consider using rideshare apps if the temperatures surpass 100 degrees, as it recently has.
While you’re here, be sure to check out:
- Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is a Smithsonian affiliate museum displaying the art and artifacts of the West, including Native American pottery and jewelry and historic photographs. It’s a nine-minute walk from the hotel.
- The Poisoned Pen Bookstore is a locally owned bookstore with a varied mix of titles, especially autographed copies and the work of regional writers. The store also has a regular roster of visiting authors, all highlighted with photos covering the walls. It’s a six-minute walk away.
- All on the same block, just across the street from the hotel, are three great restaurants. Old Town Tortilla Factory is set in a former adobe home and highlights Southwestern dishes. Craft 64 produces craft beer in-house, served alongside wood-fired pizza. For a splurge, Cafe Monarch is one of the city’s most lauded restaurants, offering chef’s tasting menus of artfully prepared dishes.
- While not on the exact same block as the restaurants, the decades-old, open-air Coach House, a relic of old Scottsdale, and the 1920s-esque The Beverly are both nearby, within a five-minute walk of the hotel. The Beverly has happy-hour discounts on classic cocktails.
- Scottsdale is the hub of Arizona’s wine scene, with tasting rooms for vineyards nearby and further afield. Check out Carlson Creek, known for its Rhone-style varietals, and Merkin, owned by Maynard James Keenan, the singer of hard rock band Tool. Both spots are about a 15-minute walk from the hotel.
The decor is midcentury-modern style, but with modern upgrades
Rooms at the Hotel Valley Ho exist somewhere between neon, retro motel and modern business hotel. The geometric carpets, black-and-white photography, and angular, gray couches will be familiar to any frequent traveler, but all are dressed up with colorful blocks of midcentury design: a circular red rug here, a starburst curtain there. In the historic buildings, all rooms are facing the pool, connected via outside walkways. The lower-level rooms have sliding doors with outside access, and most have brick walls painted white. The newer tower, which makes up the upper level of the main building, is more upscale. It includes sprawling suites and condos that are popular with long-term guests like visiting celebrities. The rooms are also pet friendly.
Ro0ms in the historic buildings break down into the following:
- Signature Guest Room: The 420-square-foot rooms have floor-to-ceiling glass, separate tub and shower, patios or balconies and a king bed or two double bed arrangement. It comes with a minibar, complimentary coffee, water bottles, free Internet, television and the hotel’s signature red flower toiletries. There’s also a pool view option, which has the same amenities but overlooks the pool, plus an ADA accessible version.
- Studio Guest Room: This room is slightly larger, at 500 square feet, with an oversized tub and a king-sized bed. The “plus” version comes with a larger terrace outfitted with plush, powder blue furniture. A portion of the bathroom is only separated from the bedroom by curtains. If you leave them open, the bathtub is in the bedroom.
- Cabana Guest Room: The 420-square-foot room is on the first floor and has direct access to the pool, as well as the same amenities as the signature rooms.
- Terrace Suite: The sprawling suite includes 850 square feet plus an even larger terrace, with the same perks. Colorful lights give the bathroom a psychedelic aesthetic perfect for social media.
- Executive Suite: This room has a massive wraparound balcony at 1,200 square feet, plus the 1,100-square-foot living space. There’s a baby blue bathtub in the bedroom framed by a yellow wall.
Hotel Valley Ho rooms in the tower break down into the following categories:
- Tower Signature Guest Room: The 450-square-foot rooms have the same amenities as Signature Guest Rooms in the historic buildings, with king or two double bed arrangements, plus views of downtown Scottsdale and the pool or Camelback Mountain. A design upgrade: blue leather headboards built into the wall.
- Tower Suite: Relax in the luxe 900-square-foot space with a king-sized bed, full kitchen (it’s bright yellow), walk-in closet, washer-dryer, plush robes and 150-square-foot balcony for an extended stay. There’s also a two-bedroom suite option with nearly double the space and an extra room.
- Tower Loft Suite: One of the luxury options is this two-level suite with an upstairs kitchen (it’s also bright yellow) and living room (it’s wavy and blue) with a downstairs bedroom and bathroom, set across 1,335 square feet and two balconies.
- Presidential Loft Suite: The peak of luxury at the hotel is this two-story suite covering 1,500 square feet with a full kitchen, two-story living room and dining area, 1.5 bathrooms and views of the mountain. This suite is all about the two-story windows, exposed cement and natural woods.
Plenty of perks without the resort fee
The hotel is a hive of activity for locals and visitors alike, frequently hosting fashion shows and guest chef dinners.
ZuZu is Hotel Valley Ho’s signature restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, over-the-top, “showstopper” milkshakes and classic cocktails. The restaurant is clubby and the menu is full of standard American food with a recognizable Southwestern tilt. The most interesting dishes appear under the “Chef-Driven” section: a slab of bacon served with a sunny-up egg, pickled watermelon slaw and Creole mustard; hamachi crudo made with serrano, avocado, grapefruit, soy yuzu crack and truffle. Order “ZuZu, Take the Wheel” and hand your fate over to the chef, who will prepare you a surprise tasting menu.
The OH pool is a popular hot spot, especially on weekends, but non-guests also have access for a $25 fee, including to the towels, bar and hot tub. Daybeds and cabanas are also available for purchase. In addition to the OH pool, there’s a small lap pool, called OHasis, in the adjoining building. At night, guests can relax around the fire pits.
The hotel has a 24-hour fitness center with all the essentials like Peletons, and the spa is open to guests, specifically the dry sauna. Parking is available for $22 per night. Historic photos are scattered around this floor, covering the legendary past guests. And if you want to get married like a celebrity, the ballroom is where the reception for the nuptials between Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood took place.
Rates start around $130 per night.