Phoenix is one of those cities that I’d passed through a ton of times but had never stayed and explored. When my work announced Phoenix as the destination for a sales meeting I was pumped to get to go somewhere new and exciting. I knew that I wanted to go early and see what all of the fuss was about Phoenix and Scottsdale. I’d been to the Grand Canyon a couple of times in the past and that was the extent of my Arizona travel history. If you’ve been to the Grand Canyon at any of the viewing points you know how desolate and deserted that part of Arizona is, so I was glad to get to experience a city! After researching Phoenix and the best places to stay it was pretty apparent that we would vibe best with Scottsdale, which is just east of Phoenix and known for its spas, resorts, golf courses, and shopping. I polled my IG followers to find out the best places to stay in Scottsdale and after seeing pictures of the Hotel Valley Ho, it was a no brainer. I say this because the Hotel Valley Ho is centrally located right within walking distance of the Old Town Scottsdale which is the historic section of town with tons of shops, restaurants, and art galleries. While staying at a sprawling resort and spa sounded nice, Rob and I tend to favor hotels that are centrally located and walkable to local attractions.
Where We Stayed
Thank you to Hotel Valley Ho for providing me with lodging in exchange for an honest review of the hotel on this blog post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Once I saw photos online of the mid-century modern boutique Hotel Valley Ho, I knew we had to stay there! The hotel originally opened in 1956 and sits on eight acres right in Old Town Scottsdale which was so convenient to walk to all of the area’s boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries. Hotel Valley Ho is a true midcentury-modern icon and was a hideaway to many in Hollywood because the paparazzi wouldn’t follow them all the way to Arizona. As soon as we walked in I felt like I was in Mad Men with the retro architecture and decor, my favorite being the main sitting area where there was a vintage cone fireplace set against a stone wall. Although it’s located right in the epicenter of Scottsdale, the hotel sits on eight acres of pristine landscaping which includes tons, and I mean tons of orange trees! Rob and I walked around for a solid hour just taking in all of the gorgeous shrubbery and orange trees which seemed to be around every corner.
We stayed in one of the tower suites which had a full kitchen, floor to ceiling glass windows, mountain views and a huge terrace complete with sunbathing chairs. The other side of the tower has main pool views and from what I’ve heard the pool parties are pretty legendary in the warmer months. It was around 60 degrees the whole time we were there and even then, the pool and cabana area was pretty festive and packed given the cooler temps. Right by the pool and off the main lobby was the hotel restaurant, ZuZu, where we enjoyed Sunday Brunch complete with mimosas and avocado toast.
Overall this hotel was a dream and we had the best time there – we didn’t want to leave! Between the central location, unique and fun architecture and grounds, multiple amenities, and excellent hospitality, this locally owned gem truly has it all. If you are going to Scottsdale anytime in the near future and want to stay at Hotel Valley Ho, they have extended a coupon code for 20% off a room, welcome amenity, and/or room upgrade. The code is PRETTYINPINK and will be valid January 10 through July 31, 2020. Click here to check out the hotel and view pricing.
What We Did
Being the travel stalker that I am, I had already checked out the local attractions and during my research I saw the Desert Botanical Gardens mentioned multiple times as one of the must-see attractions in Phoenix. Since Ronnie and I are always looking for a good place for photos, the gardens seemed like a win-win given the array of photo possibilities. Let me tell you that we ended up going to this place two days in a row LOL! The gardens take up 140 acres in the desert and are nestled right next to the red rocks of Papago Park (which was another local attraction we visited). You could seriously spend hours here looking at all of the rare desert plants and cacti lined trails (paved). As you can see from the photos above, we went two days back to back and I also packed some different outfits in my bag for photo variety (that blog life is a weird one, I tell ya). There was a really cute gift shop on the property as well as a restaurant that looked really busy for a weekday night.
What We Did
Papago Park is actually a huge area of land that includes the Desert Botanical Gardens, the Phoenix Zoo, several trails, and a rock formation known only as “hole in the rock”. A friend who lives in Phoenix recommended Hole in the Rock as something outdoorsy to do and little did we know that it was going to be so crowded! It’s funny because we didn’t even plan on going at sunset and I was honestly too focused on how we were going to climb up to the “hole in the rock” to notice that sky was turning beautiful shades of orange and red. We timed the visit just right because the sun was setting as soon as we hiked up to the hole opening where there were at least 100 people sitting on the west side of the hill taking photos. It was a pretty easy hike and there were several different paths you could take to get to the actual rock hole formation. If you are planning on going to the Hole in the Rock I would just make sure to wear shoes with a grip on the bottom, although Rob was wearing dressier boots and didn’t have any issues.
What We Did
Old Town Scottsdale is used to refer to the downtown Scottsdale area that is full of art galleries, shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and western themed tourist stores. You could honestly spend hours just walking around and window shopping and peeking inside the many art galleries and unique jewelry stores. We loved the Old Town area because of the close proximity to our hotel and how lively and bustling the streets were day and night. I was able to get several interesting souvenirs from the shops and if you all watched my IG stories from the very bizarre “art and book store” you got to witness first hand the level of quirkiness that embodies some of the stores in this area of town. It’s important to note that most parking is free and abundant along the streets of Old Town if you plan on driving. However, let me tell you that people were vultures and we encountered some intense parking spot “stalking” during our time there so be prepared to drive around searching for someone leaving or walking to their car 😛 If you are planning a trip to Phoenix you should definitely allot time to check out Old Town in Scottsdale.
Where We Ate
There was no lack of good food in Phoenix and we had our fair share of indulgent meals spanning from Thai to Vegan. Rob and I are both vegetarian (I sometimes cheat with seafood) and we love any kind of ethnic food, so we usually try to check out at least one asian restaurant in any city that we visit. I was lucky to have several friends and followers who live in the area so they gave me plenty of food recommendations and honestly I felt like we didn’t even get to touch the surface on all of the good food in Phoenix!
We had our first dinner of the trip at Malee’s Thai in Old Town Scottsdale where they are known for their Tom Ka Gai soup that comes out in this crazy pot with a flame coming out of the top – I don’t know how to describe it or what the word is for this contraption but it was so neat and the soup was delicious! I had the tofu pad thai and Rob had the mussamon curry which are both what we normally get from our favorite Thai restaurant at home, but we love trying these dishes in different cities when we travel!
One of the most highly suggested restaurants was The Mission which is a restaurant in the Old Town area that serves Latin American cuisine. We had some of the best tableside guacamole that I’ve ever tasted! This restaurant is a must on every Phoenix travel itinerary.
We couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try a vegan restaurant that is apparently ran by an international cult leader – enter Loving Hut – a vegan restaurant group where each restaurant is operated and owned independently and can serve whatever vegan items they wish. It was founded and inspired by Ching Hai, whose followers call her “Supreme Master” and broadcast her TV station 24/7 in their restaurants. It was surprisingly quiet and chill at the Phoenix Loving Hut and the food was spectacular.
I hope this short guide has helped you if you have a trip planned for Phoenix in the future!