A stay at the Hotel Valley Ho is analogous to a journey back in time. With its retro styling and Sixties décor throughout, the hotel makes you feel decidedly like Don Draper on a lubricious getaway. And while there are hotels out there with similar ethos (our beloved Hollywood Roosevelt comes to mind), never before have I seen the theme carried out with such painstaking fashion. If it weren’t for a few lingering anachronisms (flat screen TVs, your smartphone…), it would be easy to actually believe that you are living in another era during your stay at the Ho.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Edward Varney, the mid-century modern Valley Ho first opened its doors in 1956. The hotel quickly earned a reputation as a chic Hollywood hideaway, and in the preceding years housed such icons of as Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis, and Janet Leigh. Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner were married at the hotel. Zsa Zsa Gabor used to ride horses around the premises. In the Sixties it was one of the hottest and most happening getaways in America.
But after a shift of ownership in the Seventies (and a relatively rough ensuing period), the hotel was on the verge of demolition. But a local company intervened, and (determined to preserve the iconic hotel’s former greatness) began a comprehensive $80 million renovation in the early Aughts. Their goal was to allow guests to experience the hotel in all its glory as those in the late Fifties and Sixties did, all whilst improving and expanding the property with a new restaurant, spa, and luxury tower. In 2005, the hotel re-opened to much acclaim and was quickly hailed as “one of the best-preserved mid-century hotels in the country,” by architect and author Alan Hess.
The fruits of the painstaking restoration are immediately apparent when you stay at the hotel. The renovators went to such great lengths to preserve the original’s style and character that you would never guess that any of the new additions are not perfectly-maintained from their native ’50s and ’60s. The other thing that is evident from the moment you arrive is the warm level of care and attentiveness you receive from the staff. From the valets to the front desk to the servers at the restaurant and bar, everyone at the Valley Ho goes out of their way to make your stay as memorable as possible.
Of all the new additions to the hotel, the seven-story Tower has to be the crowning achievement. Plans for the Tower were actually drawn in the Fifties, but scrapped due to budgetary concerns. Now the hotel’s designers’ original intentions have been fulfilled. With stylish, artful interior design by Cathy Hayes, each of the Tower’s 37 rooms are impressive and unique. And each suite features a full kitchen, living room, walk-in closet, washer/dryer, and private balcony with views of either OH Pool and Old Town Scottsdale or Camelback Mountain.
But while all the suites in the Tower at the Valley Ho are spacious and well-appointed, as a Jetset reader there is only one place that I can honestly say that you absolutely must stay. The two-story Presidential Loft is quite possibly the finest hotel room we have ever stayed in (and that is saying something). Less like a suite and more like a meticulously-furnished, mid-century modern penthouse, every minute spent in this precious suite is blissful. If the hotel makes you forget the decade, the Presidential Loft makes you forget you are staying in a hotel.
What separates the Presidential Loft is the little refinements. The stunning artwork. The color palette that perfectly reflects the distant Sonoran Desert. The three balconies. The remote control that opens the giant curtains, allowing sunlight to illuminate the loft. With its impeccable design and décor, this is the only hotel room that I would honestly not only be comfortable living in, but would truly love to live in. It is nothing short of a livable work of art. It is also the perfect place to celebrate an anniversary, birthday, honeymoon, or bachelor/bachelorette party.
Guests at the Tower receive access to a wide range of luxury services, including twice daily housekeeping, shoe shining, personal shopping for kitchen/pantry, and luxury car rentals. The Tower Concierge can arrange access to all of the nearby restaurants and nightlife spots. For the ultimate in-room experience, we recommend having skilled chef Charles Wiley (named one of “America’s Ten Best New Chefs” by Food and Wine) prepare a delectable four-course meal right in the suite for you and your guests.
As for Wiley, his signature restaurant, ZuZu, is a lively and entertaining place to dine. To revisit the metaphor, dining or grabbing drinks at ZuZu is perhaps the most Mad Men-esque experience on property. The concept is classic American homestyle dishes (think mac-n-cheese, meatloaf, and burgers) elevated with a sophisticated and eclectic modern flair. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls invite the outdoors in, the service is top notch and the ambience is laid-back, nostalgic, and free. On most nights, its bar and courtyard patio are some of the most happening spots to grab a drink in town.
Another very happening spot in town is the OH Pool. On the weekends in the summertime, it is positively alive with DJs spinning live music and gorgeous women as far as the eye can see. But even in the fall when I visited, the pool was still a hot spot. There are eight private cabanas, a fire pit, and two massive hot tubs. A full bar and kitchen serves kitschy cocktails and light food. For a more relaxed experience, the other pool at the hotel, the Ohasis Pool, is perfect for escaping the noise to lounge or leisurely swim laps.
The 8,000 square-foot VH Spa at the Ho is vibrant and just as aesthetically pleasing as the rest of the property. The 24-hour fitness center is one of the best I’ve seen, and there is a glass wall opening for fresh air workouts that features a beautiful view of the fun down at the OH Pool. Like most everything at the Ho, the spa treatments are eclectic, meticulous, and top-notch. I had the Istanbul “Hammam Experience,” a very impressive, rejuvenatingsignature massage treatment that incorporated elements such as coffee, lemon blossom, and tangerine.
There was very little to complain about during my stay at the Valley Ho. The service across the board was fantastic, the retro-vibe and jubilant atmosphere was both exciting and refreshing, and as I said, the suite was jaw-dropping down to the last detail. When looking at hotels in Scottsdale you have many luxury options. And while they each bring something to the table, I cannot imagine having more fun at another hotel. The Hotel Valley Ho fuses the best elements of a boutique with the uniform quality of a large luxury chain and adds a large dose of nostalgia and exuberance. Highly recommended.