The Saguaro Scottsdale is among the handful of downtown Scottsdale hotels that embrace the urban Southwest vibe. Although it began life as a 1970s chain motel—evident in its blocky structure and the compactness of most rooms—this now-hip address has blossomed into the visual equivalent of desert wildflowers at the height of a wet spring. Especially striking against the desert tan that coats just about every other structure in Scottsdale, both outside and in, are a riot of colors that go beyond orange and purple and pink and yellow to such wildflower shades as California Poppy and Red Desert Globemallow. Just as vibrant, too, is the Saguaro’s pool-party scene, aided, no doubt, by water temps chilled or heated as the season dictates. A complete redo since the hotel’s 2011 opening gives the rooms a Southwest feel (think hand-carved wooden furniture and leather fabrics) but not so much that guests will be asking the concierge where to shop for cowboy boots. (Which would be Saba’s, just down the street, in Old Town.)
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Many of downtown Scottsdale's attractions are no more than a few blocks from the Saguaro. These include the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and Scottsdale Stadium, where the San Francisco Giants hold their spring training. Within sight of the hotel, AZ 88 is a pleasant place to grab a burger, or to keep an eye on who’s keeping an eye on you. For history buffs, a good stop is Scottsdale’s oldest bar, the 60-year-old Pink Pony. It was completely renovated in 2013, and there are fewer steak dishes on the menu than there used to be, but the original home plate from Scottsdale Stadium is still there.
Need to Know
Rooms: 177 rooms, 17 suites. From $79 low season, $209 high season. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: What would a hip hotel be without a celebrity chef restaurant? At the Saguaro, the restaurant is Distrito, overseen by Iron Chef winner Jose Garces, whose small-plate dishes are inspired by Mexico City street food such as gorditas and rellenitos. And guests can start the day with specialty coffees and house-baked pastries at the Garces Trading Company. Spa and gym details: The Saguaro Spa is modest by comparison with those of the Arizona megaresorts, but after a day afoot in Old Town, guests will look forward to such desert-inspired treatments as the prickly-pear sugar scrub or the chaparral rain massage. The spa, along with a 24-hour fitness center, is poolside. Desert cruiser bicycles are also available.
Who’s it for:The rates, notably less than those of the big resorts, make it attractive for families. But the happiest guests are vacationers looking for a happening scene, either around the pool or in Old Town, who appreciate being able to walk back from a night out. Our favorite rooms: Because there can be street noise, the most comfortable rooms are in buildings one and three, looking out on the pool. Pool options: To totally relax poolside, avoid the “Picante” pool, where a DJ or live music may be livening things up, and chill instead at the other, much quieter, adults-only pool.