Frank Lloyd Wright would have been proud of the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona. This desert town sprawling eastwards from Phoenix is where the visionary architect made his last home, Taliesin West, still one of the area’s prime cultural attractions.
Lloyd Wright didn’t design any hotels here, but his disciple Ed Varney built this gloriously mid-century modern hostelry in 1956, incorporating all the bright colour, light-revealing volumes and quirky ornamental detail for which the maestro was famous.
For years the Valley Ho drew Hollywood royalty like Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, who married here, before takeovers and expansion gradually dissipated its glory.
After narrowly escaping demolition at the turn of the millennium, what may be the finest example of mid-century hotel architecture in the USA got rescued by owners who appreciated its amazing lines and treated the place to an $80m renovation preserving the architect’s original vision.
The Hotel Valley Ho is now once again the hippest place to stay in a town where spa resorts built in the desert vernacular are more common than slick urban hotels. But Scottsdale is one of those few sprawling 20th century American cities with a real downtown, and the joy of Hotel Valley Ho is that it sits right at its centre.
Fun as well as period authenticity are the keynotes of the decor, with a plethora of tropical colour, mosaics, mirrored finishes and terrazzo recalling the 60s. A trip to the top of the tower block reveals the cleverness of the swimming-pool design, one pool forming an exclamation mark, the other intended to resemble a Martini glass.
And suites within this tower equipped with stylish living rooms, full kitchens with dining bars, huge, glamorous bathrooms and wide balconies overlooking the pool feed the fantasy of living the Mad Men lifestyle to the full for a few hedonistic days and nights.
A number of decent restaurants are within walking distance, notably FnB and Cowboy Ciao in the charming, contemporaneous outdoor mall known as Fifth Avenue Shops. But given the buzz generated by its huge lobby bar and that swimming pool which is the hub of social life, you may well want to eat in.
A bountiful American alfresco breakfast or brunch at ZuZu is not to be missed, and the OH pool has a life of its own, with DJ’s, live music and private cabana rentals drawing an almost-too-lively local crowd.
The spa on the second floor of the tower makes a great retreat, with some innovative facials as well as massage techniques and a wall of fame with nostalgic pictures of mid-century Hollywood royalty enjoying the hotel in its heyday. Weekend yoga is on offer, but probably not a prime attraction for the party animals for whom this fun hotel seems to have expressly been designed.
Tell me more about Hotel Valley Ho
Hotel Valley Ho
Rooms from $99
6850 E. Main Street
Scottsdale, Arizona 85251
Tel: +1 480 248 2000
How do I get to Scottsdale? Daily BA flights from London serve Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport, where Alamo rents cars from £126 per week.