Sunday, 24 February 2013

Weekend Life....Hermosa Inn, Scottsdale, Arizona

Hermosa Inn, Paradise Valley, Arizona, late January 2013.

Staggering sleepily off the plane at Phoenix, Arizona airport (it was the wee hours of the morning UK-time) into an agonisingly long and slow-moving immigration line, I was just about ready to curl up on the floor of the airport for the night. Fortunately, my desire for a warm, comfortable night’s sleep won out over a “coat and pile of M&S knickers” makeshift bed, and we were soon piled into our Chevy SUV and heading to our destination for two nights: The Hermosa Inn.

Tucked away in the affluent suburb of Paradise Valley, The Hermosa Inn is the antithesis of the large resorts which dominate the Scottsdale, Arizona luxury accommodation scene. Hand-built in the 1930’s as a traditional adobe hacienda by accomplished cowboy artist Lon Megargee as his home and studio, The Hermosa Inn is a treasure of a boutique hotel where, as the hotel brochure states “Tomorrow…Starts Tonight with Cowboy Dreams At The Hermosa Inn”.

Despite it being past 10pm by the time we arrived at the Inn, we were greeted warmly at reception and guided to our Deluxe Casita along paths slick and glossy with freshly fallen rain. Um, yep, rain! It doesn’t rain very often in Phoenix (which boasts an average of 306 days of sunshine a year hence the proliferation of golf courses and celebrities who call Phoenix home), but our visit just happened to coincide with some unstable weather.  Luckily the thoughtful staff at The Hermosa Inn had anticipated the weather, (and our late check-in) and our beautiful suite was toasty warm for our arrival. With Spanish guitar music playing softly in the background, dimly lit lamps casting golden shadows, a tiny plate of homemade lavender infused chocolates on the side-table together with a welcome note setting out the weather and suggested activities for the next day, all thoughts of the long flight and delays were swept from our minds.  Eyes pouncing on the gas fireplace, I couldn’t resist cranking it up while we explored our accommodation.

Decorated simply and tastefully with subtle nods to the Inn’s Southwestern heritage (apart from an artist, Lon Megargee was a cowboy, broncobuster, exhibition roper, and stud poker dealer!) with high, exposed timber beam ceilings, vintage cowboy posters on the walls, rawhide lampshades, a Mexican-tiled fireplace and king-size wrought-iron bed, our casita opened through wooden plantation shuttered French doors onto a private terrace (which came in handy in the early hours of the morning as my enthusiastic usage of the fireplace had rather overheated the room!). A small hallway led to a dressing room/walk-in wardrobe, and an enormous bathroom....and I do mean enormous! A beautiful Waterworks freestanding roll-top bath plus a shower large enough for a party of five had me squealing (quietly!) for joy. A quick splash about in the bath, fragrant with the Hermosa Inn’s signature organic citrus toiletries, and I was ready to drift off to sleep. I am not quite sure that I can attest to cowboy dreams (those came later in our Arizona trip!), but I woke early the next morning refreshed and ready to explore.

Having arrived under cover of darkness, it was so exciting to finally see the property (and indeed our first glimpse of Arizona) in the daylight. Even with ominous grey clouds rolling in, the beauty of the manicured grounds and the surrounding area blew me away. Impossibly tall palm trees, dozens of variety of cacti, lush green lawns, desert flower gardens and in the distance, the magnificent Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak (formerly Squaw Peak). The Hermosa Inn has also collaborated with a local art gallery to create a fine-art sculpture garden featuring life-sized sculptures by artists such as Allan Houser and Paul Moore which are dotted throughout the grounds (one of which – a magnificent bronze of a Native American called Finger That Kills - gave me a terrific fright as I wandered past it in the darkness on the first night!).

In the middle of the property, sits a lovely pool area (the pool is heated during the winter months) with cabanas and lounges, together with a hot tub. Pool towels and bottled water are provided free of charge.  I forgot my swimsuit so had to be content with lounging about under a cabana with my book and willing the sun to come out (it sort of did!). There is also a spa on-site, but I didn’t have time to try that out unfortunately.

Eat:

Lon’s Restaurant, Hermosa Inn: If you are staying at The Hermosa Inn (or even if you aren’t!) you must eat at least once in Lon’s restaurant. The food was wonderful.  It was also really busy on the night we ate there (Sunday evening) so I would advise booking in advance if you plan on going. The highlights of our meal were the fried Dungeness crab on a bed of micro sprouts served with slivers of giant clam, braised beef short ribs with roasted root vegetables and truffled ricotta gnocchi (so unctuous and melt-in-the-mouth, perfect for a winter’s evening in the desert), spit roasted prime rib with fire roasted poblano pesto (we watched the chef roasting the beef over the fire pit in the afternoon so couldn’t resist ordering it), and the moist, I-can-not-possibly-fit-another-thing-in-but-it-is-too-good-to-leave Mexican chocolate pudding cake with raspberry mint compote.
We ate inside because of the weather, but during the summer month’s Lon’s has a fabulous terrace with fire pits and adobe fireplace, with magnificent views towards Camelback Mountain.

Joe’s Farm Grill:  Great for a burger stop if you are driving towards Tucson (like we did after we left The Hermosa Inn)

Over Easy: A fun place for breakfast/brunch if only to say you have eaten The Wolfpack and waffle dogs (as seen on The Food Network).

Coffee:

Cartel Coffee Lab – We visited all four of the Cartel locations during our trip to Arizona. Excellent coffee. We even brought home a bag of whole beans (roasted in their Tempe store) and a mug.

Press Coffee (Scottsdale Quarter) – Another place for great coffee in Scottsdale.

Each room at The Hermosa Inn has a Keurig coffee maker, and there is one in the Reception area as well should you need something to conquer jet lag on-site ;) Each time we visited Reception, there were also little treaties to tempt: chocolate brownies and teeny caramel tartlets in the afternoon, and mini croissants and pastries at breakfast.

To  Do:

We only had one full day in Scottsdale due to our flight arrival time from the UK so barely scratched the surface of things to do.  I would go back to Scottsdale, and The Hermosa Inn, in a heartbeat….and stay for at least a week (hello golf, hiking….or simply lazing by the pool!)

We managed a small hike on Camelback Mountain plus spent a good hour just driving around ogling the incredible houses nestled into the side of the mountains. 

Our stay at The Hermosa Inn was compliments of the hotel.

11 comments:

  1. What a stunning and beautiful,landscape, and the description of the stay is fabulous!

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  2. stunning, this reminds me of Santa Fe

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  3. Beautiful photos! I go with my family to Arizona every year, and we're not going this year — these photos fill the void and also make me sad we're not going. Lovely photos, again!

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  4. @Sylviane - I so so so loved Arizona - it is unlike anywhere I have ever been before. The landscape is incredible...I was so excited to see so many of the Saguaro cactus everywhere......I would go back today if I could! Thank you for your kind comment :))

    @Collections - Santa Fe is on my loooong must-go-to list! Slightly obsessed with the Southwest at the moment!!

    @Claire - That is very kind of you to say Claire....I feel sad for you that you aren't going to Arizona this year (are you going somewhere else instead???? I do hope so....). I truly loved Arizona - we went to Scottsdale, Tucson and Sedona and I loved them all. Each is so different and has its own beauty. Where do you normally go when you go to Arizona????

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  5. I love you for your lavish tribute to my home, thank you Vanessa! As a 5th generation Arizona cowgirl who has Alex Wang in her closet next to boots and jeans, I am your devoted fan and was so pleased to see you loved Joe's as well, it's our favorite family breakfast. Welcome and please come back soon, just not in Summer :) Julia Fuller

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  6. @Julia - Hi Julia - love that you have Alexander Wang + boots and jeans! I personally think that is the best way to be: a mix of glam and down-to-earth:)) We actually went to a dude ranch in Tucson (photographs and article coming soon) so I got to see lots of jeans, chaps and cowboy hats! As I said to @Sylviane and @Claire - I absolutely adored Arizona. It was one of the most incredible places I have ever been (and people are so friendly!).

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  7. Our favorite mini vaca , we stay here a couple days every year for the last 3 years. Great bike rides and Mt. hikes. When you go back try La Grande Orange and Chelsea's Kitchen.

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  8. @Sandi - Hi Sandi, we actually had Chelsea's Kitchen down on the to-do list (it looks fab!) but unfortunately didn't have time. Definitely a must do for next time!

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  9. It's always startling to be reading along in a blog that I associate with the other side of the world and suddenly come across pictures of very familiar landscapes . . .

    Did you, by chance, try any of the local wine at Lon's? My boyfriend is the wine rep for Pillsbury Wines, and it's great stuff.

    Cartel is one of my favorites - I dance blues there on Tuesday nights at the Tucson location. Any chance of some Tucson photos as well?

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  10. Ah, I should have read all of your other comments first, though I do hope you saw enough of Tucson to realize that much of the cowboy paraphernalia is for the tourists.

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  11. @g + m - Hi! So fun you found this and that you live in Arizona. I was just looking at the temps yesterday on my iphone and it looks like Phoenix is already at 34 degrees (c) as is Tucson! That seems pretty hot for mid March???? Is that temp unusual or does it normally get that hot so early in the year? We did have some wine at Lon's but it was The Prisoner (a Napa wine - though I think the winemaker actually went to the University of Arizona and helped plant vines in Tucson).

    We both loved Cartel - the coffee was excellent!

    I am literally just finishing up my article on my dude ranch experience in Tucson (it was so so awesome) so should have that up on the blog tomorrow. Photos are all from the dude ranch though :(

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