February Stop in Arizona
Opened in 1927
We arrived at the corner of Aspen and San Francisco, on a blustery Wednesday afternoon. I was surprised to see the downtown streets and sidewalks looking so lively.
The lobby was as intriguing as I'd remembered. The space was empty at 4 pm, but the sound of clinking glasses and cheerful chatter drifted in from Rendezvous, the hotel's coffee shop/bar, on the corner of the building.
The opposite end of the lobby showed 2 sets of stairs. One headed up to guest rooms and a sitting space. The down staircase, lead to the hotel's original cocktail lounge.
Besides the painted beams and tiles, I was most in love with the arches. Above the staircase, there was a small painting inside an arched alcove. Between the lobby and Rendezvous Bar, there was a glassed in arch, filled with liquor bottles.
We walked through archways to go up the stairs and through an arched opening to enter an extra lounge area on the lobby level.
The elevator even had an arched entrance. Hotel Monte Vista was the first to install a self-service elevator in Arizona. Luckily it has been updated, but mostly we took the stairs.
Our hall on the second floor had some jazzy chandeliers and classic, exposed pipes. We were across the hall from the Bob Hope Suite. If I'd only done my research ahead of booking, I could have requested a celebrity named room. The bartender told us later that she'd never been in the Debbie Reynold's room, but she heard it was a nauseating bubble gum color. I would have loved that.
For about $75.00 we were able to get a fine room overlooking San Francisco Street.
A double set of windows let in some light and caused our walls to shimmer a bit. Gotta love some shimmery walls!
The Cocktail Lounge
At the southwest end of the building we found the cocktail lounge, right where it opened during prohibition. Evidently the popular speakeasy was shut down in 1931, but came back to life a couple years later. There are also some underground tunnels that were involved in the bootleg history.
Bogey & Candy Machines
I love historic hotel bars, especially when I can picture some of the past famous guests enjoying them. There were many famous guests, thanks to Flagstaff's scenic location for movies. Humphrey Bogart was one of the hotel's most famous guests. It is rumored that one scene from Casablanca was shot here.
Pool Hall or Ballroom?
Don and I tried to experience a little of the historic cocktail lounge, but we didn't stay long. The classic bar counter was filled up and the spacious, once-a-ballroom-area, was crowded with pool playing, locals. (this photo was taken earlier) We wimped out and headed for the slightly more subdued Redezvous bar, upstairs. .
In the Day
This is a peek through the hallway window to Rendezvous, during the day. The light coming through the windows made the corner, coffee shop/bar warm and inviting, with temps in the teens.
At night, the atmosphere at Rendezvous was friendly and upbeat. It seemed like the staff behind the bar, actually enjoyed their work. Don and I were lucky to get 2 seats at the bar, where Liz served us and amused us with her booming laugh and her own cocktail creations.
We also enjoyed an interesting chat with Paul, who sat beside me. His work with the Forestry Service was actually interesting enough. But I especially liked his stories about growing up next to Buddy Holly's family in Lubbock. In fact his mom ended up marrying Buddy's brother, in later years.
Night at the Hotel
It was so darn cold, that Don and I lost interest in wandering around in search of dinner. When we found out the hotel had an walkway to a Thai restaurant right next door, we were thrilled. No coats needed and the food was amazingly good. Plus, we got to experience a meal, where the original hotel coffee house once sat.
It also helped that our stay was on a weeknight, which helped cut down on bar noise. In the morning we enjoyed our complimentary coffee in Rendezvous, before heading out on the road.
What's Notable? Hotel Monte Vista is reasonably priced gem in the center of an interesting city, just off of Historic 66. I'm guessing in summer, it's packed with travelers. However, I don't think we met or even saw another hotel guest in the charming hotel, with 73 rooms. We seemed to be the only travelers, in a happening place, filled with locals. Maybe they should go back to the original name, "The Community Hotel". That was the hotel's name when it opened, because the townspeople had contributed to its existence.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!