Historic Hotels and Lavish Lobbiesby John Scott on Aug. 23, 2012, under Uncategorized
The drifter enters the lobby and walks directly to the front desk, leaving a path of trail dust that discolors the elaborate designs on the rug. The rhythmic ticking of the wall clock is drowned out by the jingle of his spurs. He drops his worn saddlebags on the counter next to a dog-eared register, looks straight into the eyes of the concerned clerk and utters one word: “Room.”
Don’t we all want to do that? Nowadays the car full of luggage is running out front and we are fishing out a credit card to put down for incidentals, making us wonder, Why? We already gave Travelocity the card number to book the room. Damn that little gnome! Even though hospitality has changed since then, the same basic idea of the “overnight stay” has endured for centuries.
Hotels in the Old West Arizona were definitely moneymakers. Many had adjoining restaurants or saloons to enhance their income. Just like today, there were hotels for the wealthy, and hotels for the…uh..not so wealthy. The one part that stands out in all these establishments is the lobby. Usually very ornate, giving one the feel of quality and extravagance. In early mining camps where hotels weren’t a necessity, saloons would rent out their floor space at closing time. I can just see nudging the inebriated miner next to you, “Excuse me, sir, I would like a wake up call at 6:00 a.m.”
Luxury was important to bring in the high dollar customers. The Grand Hotel, in Tombstone, was described by a reporter in 1880: “On down through the main corridor peeping now and then into the bedrooms, sixteen in number, each of them fitted with walnut furniture and carpeted to match: spring mattresses that would tempt even a sybarite, toilet stands and fixtures of the most approved pattern, the walls papered, and to crown all, each room having windows.”
So, where’s the ice machine? I didn’t see mention of the ice machine! Honey, let’s go somewhere else.
Sorry, folks. In 1880 Arizona, ice was not easy to find. Oh, and I looked up sybarite. The definition is: one who is a pleasure-seeker. Yeah, I missed that one on the SAT for sure.
The Connor Hotel in Jerome, built in 1898 charged the hefty price of $1.00 a night. You can still stay in it today, but be prepared to spend more than a buck. The Copper Queen in Bisbee has done an amazing job of keeping the Victorian feel. Other notables are the St. Michaels and the Hotel Vendome in Prescott, the Gadsden Hotel in Douglas, and the El Tovar at the Grand Canyon.
If you are able to stay in one of these places, I urge you to do so. Be prepared for small rooms, where a section has been converted to a bathroom. The squeaky wooden floors may not be level in all areas, and the original glass in the windows may warp the view to the outside a bit. Oh, and most have ghosts. All of this is the charm, and in my opinion the reason to go. You won’t experience history in the Holiday Inn Express.