Nicknamed the Grand Canyon State, Arizona, has some of the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes in all of the USA. Hotels here know how to take you into the wild, whether on horseback or simply from a lounger in the shadow of a mountain – now bookable on Culture Trip.
It’s been said that it’s hard to tell tourists and locals apart in Arizona since those who live in the state tend to wear shorts and are always taking photos of the landscapes. Certainly, the sunny Grand Canyon State is not the sort of place you want to get caught without a decent camera. Apart from America’s most famous natural wonder, Arizona is dotted with epic red-rock buttes, cacti fields and waterfalls for you to enjoy at your own pace.
Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort
4.7/5 (570 Reviews)
Courtesy of Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa / Booking.com
Embedded into a mountain that – as the name suggests – looks like the hump and head of a kneeling camel, this luxury resort in Scottsdale is all about soaking up the sun and some astonishing views. With biking, hiking and running trails within a few minutes of the resort, you can get close to nature before returning to your oasis – with its infinity pool next to swaying palm trees, a restaurant with a deck overlooking Paradise Valley and a spa with Asian-inspired rejuvenation treatments.
The Hermosa Inn was once the private, turn-of-the-century bolthole of artist Lon Megargee, famous for his paintings of cowboys and Arizona landscapes. The building remains as inspirational as ever with its location on six desert acres (2.4ha) at the foot of Camelback Mountain. Megargee’s spirit lives on in the restaurant LON’s – a historic hacienda with roughhewn beams that combine old-school cooking traditions with modern techniques.
Taking its name from the shadows cast by the nearby Camelback Mountain and Mummy Mountain, Mountain Shadows – in the heart of Paradise Valley – became a hangout for Hollywood stars after opening in 1959. Old-school Tinseltown glam has been replaced by slick luxury design after the resort was knocked down and built from the ground up in 2017. Modern rooms now come with granite and quartz countertops, hardwood floors and floor-to-ceiling glass to make the most of the mountain views.
Originally built in 1929 by New Yorker Delos Cooke – as a retreat to help improve his wife Florence’s poor health in the warm desert climate – the Royal Palms resort has kept its recuperative powers. Poolside luxury cabanas with wait service and views of Camelback Mountain set the tone for a relaxing stay. The Alvadora Spa takes over with its renewal massages – followed by restaurant Via Cappello, where you can find a nook to dine by candlelight.
Forget the pink walls, the lovely setting among the palm trees in a quiet Tucson neighborhood and the casita-style rooms make it all worthwhile – but the most memorable thing at the Arizona Inn is the furniture. Once an inn and philanthropic furniture shop employing disabled World War I veterans called the Arizona Hut, the hotel still has an on-site cabinet-making shop where craftsmen restore and create beautiful pieces – all of which are scattered throughout the hotel.
There’s a saying at Tanque Verde Ranch: “The early riser gets the horse… and some blueberry pancakes.” A breakfast ride on an almost half-a-ton steed is one of the many ways you can indulge your inner cowboy at this dude ranch retreat on the edge of Tucson – among the rolling foothills of the Saguaro National State Park. If you prefer a more modern mode of transport, hire a mountain bike, jeep or UTV – or, for a change of pace, drop by the nature center for a close encounter with the critters that call the Sonoran Desert home.
A vintage car and brightly colored A-shaped entrance set the tone at this photogenic, 1960s modern art hotel in Tucson. There’s a bohemian, eco-friendly approach throughout – including upcycled furniture, low-flow water fixtures and a commitment to sourcing food and drink locally. The beer served here is brewed a stone’s throw away, the wine comes from Arizona and the coffee is roasted in Tucson. For even more of a local touch, check out the works of art in the lobby by homegrown artists.
One of the finest examples in the US of mid-century modern design, the retro-chic Hotel Valley Ho used to lure movie and sports stars in its 1950s heyday. While it might have had an upgrade, the hotel in Scottsdale’s Old Town has hung on to its old-school charm – starting with a vintage cone fireplace in the lobby and bucket chairs and plexiglass tables further add to the hip vibe. Be sure to drop by Zuzu restaurant for a show-stopper shake, some of which comes topped with a piece of cake.
The wine industry in Arizona dates back to the late 18th century, so it would be a shame not to try a few glasses before leaving the state. Winery Suites of Scottsdale makes it easy to go on a tasting tour by partnering with two local wineries, Aridus and SuVino. At the hotel, the wine theme continues with room names – Rhone, Viognier, Petite Sirah and Toscana – while you can swing by the nearby farmer’s market for something to pair with the tipple.
Rancho de Los Caballeros provides you with several options to explore the magnificent Sonoran desert. Get down and dirty with a nature walk or an ATV – visiting historic settlements from the gold mining era along the way – or look out over the canyons and surrounding mountains from a hot air balloon. You can also blast away at the skeet and trap shooting range – and as the sun sets, go for a cookout under the stars.
These recommendations were updated on September 24, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.