Arizona for wimps

We took off from Phoenix airport in a rental car, hoping to explore as much as we could of Arizona without experiencing driver's fatigue. Our hubs were Flagstaff and Sedona, and we made daytrips from there. This allowed for a little more relaxation than your average road trip.


Clarendon Hotel and Suites

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by quirine on August 16, 2005

When we pulled up to the Clarendon, I was a bit worried. It looked like an old geriatric building from the 1960s, complete with a few asymmetrical blue lines. We parked in the 1960s-style carport parking lot and went through the double glass doors in the back of the building. We were then back outside in the courtyard passing a lush tropical garden surrounding a beautifully renovated pool and Jacuzzi. The area was filled with modern furniture and umbrellas

Continuing through to the concierge, we noticed a cool guy working the front desk. He let us check in super early and recommended a fantastic sandwich place down the street, Panne Bianco. He noticed my boyfriend's T-shirt of a very obscure electronic group and mentioned that Autechre was playing that weekend. As New Yorkers, we immediately felt great knowing that we managed to randomly select possibly the hippest hotel in Phoenix.

We got our keys and hurried up to our room. Inside our room, we were so surprised that we were looking at a modern luxury room in an old, renovated building. The blinds were so hip, we found out what they were and bought them for our own apartment. You can see out perfectly during the day, but no one can see in. For more privacy, they had installed this huge painting that you could slide in front of the window. The bed was SO soft and the white duvet was really comfy and included a little chocolate on each pillow. The furniture all looked like it was from Design Within Reach or West Elm. There was a minibar containing everything from strange local snacks to vodka bottles. The free tea and coffee they leave out are from a local place and are really high-quality. In the back of the room, we noticed some robes for lounging around the room, as well as a window overlooking the city.

The bathroom had modern features and products from Aveda. (I had to steal them all!) After enjoying a nice splash in the pool filled with beach balls, where they played really cool electronic music, I got dressed and went up to the roof to watch the sunset. The next morning, we had a lovely continental breakfast with croissants, fresh orange juice, coffee, and yogurt.

We never had a chance to hit the martini bar and restaurant, but I have to say that it looked really sleek. It's great to have places like that so accessible to your hotel. It was sad to say goodbye, and I even managed to get a few more hours of sun in by the pool before we checked out.

If you're looking for a comfortable and hip place to stay, The Clarendon (http://www.theclarendon.net/) is the place. I always like to support people who try to do something different in a city full of generic hotels.

Clarendon Hotel and Suites
401 W Clarendon Ave
Phoenix, Arizona, 85013
(605) 252-7363

La Quinta Inn Phoenix/Tempe Sky Harbor Airport

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by quirine on August 16, 2005

La Quinta was the first hotel experience of our trip. We arrived late in Phoenix, and all we wanted was a clean place to rest our heads before our journey up to Flagstaff. After a bit of confusion in finding the place (perhaps you want to call for directions first), we found it.

Booking online was great because we checked in and out with virtually no hassle. The room was very much just what you would expect from a hotel that cost us $66. There was a decent bed, TV, luggage stand, cheap coffeemaker, one window with two sets of curtains (sheer and opaque), a bathroom with cheap products, a lounger, a tiny desk with two chairs, a notepad and pen with the hotel’s name on it, and other generic stuff you'd find in a motel of this nature.

Surprisingly, they did have a cute little pool (although right in the open) and a reasonable continental breakfast, the kind where you get a yogurt, a banana, a muffin, and some crappy coffee to prepare you for the road trip ahead. For eggs and bacon, you'll have to venture for a proper diner.

The lobby is also generic and contains a pamphlets of local and not-so-local attractions.

For a quickie, cheap night by the airport, this place will definitely do!

La Quinta Inn Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport South
911 South 48th St
Tempe, Arizona, 85281
(480) 967-4465

Embassy Suites Hotel Flagstaff

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by quirine on August 24, 2005

Arriving at the Embassy Suites in Flagstaff was no problem. It was right off the main road going into downtown. We passed a Target, a few restaurants, and a natural foods market on the way. We checked in with no problem and received a map of the premises. We walked into our room on the second floor (there is an elevator) and were pleasantly surprised to see we had a separate living room area and a view of the courtyard. The decor was typical of a hotel, with classic and warm colors and a few cheesy art pieces hanging on the walls. Across from the loveseat was a bar area with a TV, sink, coffeemaker, and fridge. Down the little hall is a big mirror and a long counter with a sink where you can put your toiletries.

At the end is a bathroom with a toilet and reasonable shower. On the right, behind the "bar," is a sliding door to the bedroom, which had plenty of drawer and closet space, a big bed, and a TV. Both rooms have windows overlooking the pool. This was a great place to settle for a few days while we ventured off to do tourist things.

Amenities include a pool and Jacuzzi and a cute, little fitness room. Also, every morning there is a full-service breakfast behind the lobby in a room right next to the pool. This was a great way to start the day before we headed out to hike all day. They served Starbucks coffee (with to-go cups if you’d like) eggs, pancakes, yogurt, fruit, bagels, etc. It wasn't fancy, but a nice addition nonetheless.

From 5 to 7pm every night, the lobby and lounge would fill up due to the manager's special, a.k.a. free drinks! The bartenders were really cool and told us to come back soon for a refill before 7pm. We sat on huge leather couches while watching sports and eating free popcorn and pretzels. Watch your exercising and drinking, though, as the elevation can really get to you!

It was so great to stay in a place where we could take a cool swim after a long day hiking, get a free breakfast in the morning, and have a glass of wine and enjoy the company of fellow travellers. Not to mention, this is one of the few hotels far from the annoying railroad tracks that have noisy trains rolling through every night. This place was far from hip, but they made every effort to make us feel at home.

Embassy Suites Hotel Flagstaff
706 South Milton Road
Phoenix, Arizona
800/774-4333

Desert Quail Inn

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by quirine on August 24, 2005

The Desert Quail Inn was noted on many a travel site as affordable, cozy, and right near Sedona. It was affordable by Sedona standards, but my problem with the place is this: It was not at all cozy, since the only windows faced the parking lot, thereby not having any sort of view of the red rocks, and the bed was hard as a rock, not to mention their weak attempt at a fruit basket that sat on the smelly little fridge. Moreover, it was quite a drive to Sedona, which kind of sucks if you want to eat out at night and don't want to deal with a complicated, windy road back to the motel. The outlet mall across the street was no big deal and took us all of 10 minutes to stroll through. The only three saving graces are that the motel is right behind a nice, big grocery store and it's near the lovely Cafe Rustica restaurant and the super-great breakfast joint Brooklyn Cafe. The hotel staff was friendly and the pool was decent, but, overall, I don't think this place was worth it. Pay the extra money and enjoy yourself! I would recommend staying near town by the restaurants or as close to Slide Rock State Park as possible.
Desert Quail Inn
6626 Hwy. 179
Sedona, Arizona, 86351
(800) 385-0927

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