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