Charming property with 1950s retro-chic architecture and decor
Big, colorful rooms with minibars, coffeemakers, and free daily newspapers
Five-minute drive or 15-minute walk to downtown Scottsdale
Heated main pool with cabanas is popular on the weekends
Quieter second pool offers a retreat from the main pool
Hotel's ZuZu restaurant draws the hipster set at night
Full-service spa offering plenty of relaxing treatments
Gym open 24 hours, plus yoga classes offered (fee)
Freebies include uncovered parking and Wi-Fi
Pet-friendly -- no extra fees for pets
Saturdays during pool season can be loud
Fee for faster Wi-Fi (free for basic)
Fee for covered parking (free for uncovered)
An institution in Scottsdale since it opened in 1956, the four-pearl, 241-room Valley Ho exudes a retro charm that draws the young and the hip. It's ideally located just on the outskirts of the Old Town, which is the dining and entertainment hub of the city -- its restaurants, shops, and galleries are within a 15-minute walk. In 2005, a full renovation brought it into the 21st century, while retaining (and refreshing) its cool 1950s style. Grounds are immaculate, the main pool is one of the liveliest in the Phoenix area, rooms are stylish and colorful, and the restaurant serves tasty food. Room categories range from standard kings that surround the pool to loft-style suites in the tower, all decorated in the hotel's funky aesthetic. But it's worth comparing rates with the nearby Aloft Scottsdale, which offers free high-speed Wi-Fi and free covered parking.
A retro hotel drawing inspiration from its 1950s heyday to marvelous effect
Set in six two-story buildings and one seven-story tower, Hotel Valley Ho is the textbook picture of 1950s architecture. Highlights include a geometric stone frieze that lines the buildings (it continues indoors, too), and rainbow tiles that decorate the tower's balconies. This property was a favorite getaway of a number of Hollywood icons in its mid-century heyday, and interiors continue to honor that history. In the lobby, a circular fireplace is surrounded by modular bench seating against a natural stone wall. An iridescent tiled wall here adds another layer of bling. Behind the lobby is the ZuZu restaurant, which has funky furniture like blue and orange chairs and large, spherical light fixtures.
Outside, the grounds are tidy and put together. The interior courtyard is grassy with palm trees -- the pool is located here, and brightly colored cabanas flank it. A bar, dozens of lounge chairs, and a sound system complete the space. There's alfresco food and drink service, too, making this area a natural hub of activity. It's frequented by plenty of young-and-tanned types (and, on occasion, professional athletes and movie stars). On Saturdays during warm weather, the main pool area often becomes a huge party spot. Valley Ho strictly forbids partying in the rooms, though, so the festivities are kept to the public areas.
This hotel is right on the edge of Old Town Scottsdale, which means a plethora of art galleries, nightclubs, and restaurants are within a 15-minute walk (or a very cheap five-minute taxi ride). Also, Fashion Square and the Scottsdale Waterfront, two upscale shopping locations, are only a five-minute drive away. Within a 20- to 30-minute drive are both Sky Harbor International Airport and Scottsdale Airport; numerous hiking areas like Echo Canyon Park and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve; and Taliesin West, architect Frank Lloyd Wright's former summer home and current architecture school. Scottsdale Stadium, where the San Francisco Giants play during spring training, is an eight-minute drive away.
Spacious, retro-style rooms with up-to-date tech features
Valley Ho's guest rooms continue the hotel's cool '50s vibe with terrazzo tile floors, gray patterned rugs, and blond-wood furniture. Chrome details and quirky colors also punch up their style factor. In Standard Rooms, turquoise blue walls meet mustard yellow curtains and green headboards. White-tile bathrooms include stylish details, too, like glass bricks that let in natural light, vessel sinks, and pendant lights. Red Flower toiletries add a luxe touch. All rooms have walk-in showers, but not all have tubs.
Rooms start at 420 square feet -- large, for their rates -- and several have ample balconies and patios. Suites range from 850 to 1,300 square feet, and many are located in the tower building, which overlooks the pool on one side and Camelback Mountain on the other. Poolside rooms on the tower might hear noise from weekend pool parties in the spring, summer, and fall. In the other buildings that line the pool, however, windows face away from the action, and cinder-block walls on the pool-side ensure that noise is effectively kept out. Tower rooms, with their height, definitely provide better views than the other rooms.
Standard amenities found in each room include a flat-screen TV with an MP3 player hookup; free basic Wi-Fi (high-speed costs extra); a large safe; free issues of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or Arizona Republic; a coffeemaker; a minibar; an iron and ironing board; a bathrobe; and a hairdryer. Upgraded amenities in the Tower Suites include full kitchens and washers and dryers. Note that the Hotel Valley Ho has a residential program where some Tower Suites are privately owned, and some of them are rented out.
Pool parties plus a popular restaurant drawing in the crowds
While the Hotel Valley Ho stands out among the competition for its design, it also more than meets its four-pearl rating when it comes to features, offering guests plenty of on-site extras for a comfortable stay, starting with its pools. The hotel's activities are centered around the OH pool in the warmer months, with tourists and locals alike attending the pool parties held here. The OH pool also has its own kitchen and bar. Guests and visitors can rent cabanas and lounge chairs for a fee -- this should be done well in advance, particularly for weekends. The second pool, OHasis, is designed for lounging and lap swimming, and it has a much calmer atmosphere.
In terms of dining, the ZuZu restaurant serves American cuisine for all three meals (breakfast is not free), and its bar becomes a late-night scene with live music, too. Other features include the VH Spa, which offers a full menu of services but lacks the oasis-like flair found at other Arizona spa retreats; a 24-hour fitness center that has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the pool; 10,000 square feet of meeting space (providing a popular spot for weddings and conferences); and history tours of the hotels with the concierge. There's also 24-hour room service for guests. Additionally, rooms are pet-friendly, and guests can bring their furry companions along without a fee. Just be sure to call ahead to let the hotel know. Covered parking is free, as is Wi-Fi.