Lodge on the Desert Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Tucson, Arizona, United States

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Large rooms fuse historic charm with modern touches
  • Unique, hacienda-style layout with beautifully landscaped grounds
  • Even standard rooms have 32-inch flat-screen TVs
  • Small pool is heated and has waterfalls
  • American cuisine at popular Lodge on the Desert Restaurant
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free self-parking

Cons

  • No fitness center or spa

Bottom Line

The upper-middle-range Lodge on the Desert is a unique slice of Tucson, with a 75-plus-year history and an updated look that gives its historic rooms a modern feel. The boutique hotel features a hacienda-style layout, big rooms, lovely landscaping and decor, and a heated pool -- though it is quite small -- with water features. But some may find the historic Arizona Inn a tad more charming, and it is often similarly priced.

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 Scene

Unique historic property with modern feel and beautiful grounds

Grounds at the Lodge on the Desert
Grounds at the Lodge on the Desert

Originally a seven-room family residence built in 1936, the Lodge has since become a 103-room Tucson landmark known for its historic charm and “Old Southwest” ambience.

The five-acre property is ringed by a high wall to provide a sense of privacy within, where tan-colored buildings are separated by manicured courtyards and native cacti in a hacienda-style layout. The quiet and relaxing atmosphere makes this an ideal hotel for business or leisure travelers. Immediately beyond the lobby, a heated pool and Jacuzzi await. Although the pool is charming with its tumbling waterfalls, it’s small and could get crowded on busy weekends.

The Lodge’s rooms are divided into the historic rooms and the much newer rooms built in 2009. Historic rooms feature charming decor and authentic Southwestern details, such as adobe-style fireplaces and wood beam ceilings, while also delivering modern amenities. Newer rooms lack historic architectural details, but they do have an "Old Southwest" look that features colorful tile accents and rustic furniture.

The Lodge on the Desert Restaurant and Lodge Bar received updates in 2011, and now feature Southwestern decor such as rough-hewn, hand-painted wood beams and Mexican tin chandeliers. The contemporary American menu tends to be popular with guests.

 Location

In central Tucson, near Reid Park

The Lodge on the Desert is located in central Tucson, about one mile from the Reid Park Zoo. Guests can walk the neighborhood, but it’s a long way to any restaurants such as those at the large El Con shopping mall about a mile away. No shuttle service is offered.

Tucson is the second-biggest city in Arizona and perhaps its most culturally rich. Though officially founded in 1776, Tucson was first settled in the late 1600s by Spanish missionaries (most notably at the beautiful Mission San Xavier del Bac, the region's most iconic structure), and 4000 years earlier by Hohokam Indians. It is said to be one of the longest continuously-inhabited cities in the USA, known since its inception as the "Old Pueblo."

Sitting at 2,400 feet in a broad valley between five different mountain ranges, Tucson enjoys on average 350 sunny days per year and an arid climate that produces one of the most diverse desert environments in the world. The Sonoran Desert features the stately saguaro cactus, which is celebrated at Saguaro National Park on the city's outskirts, and many other varieties of cacti and unique wildlife including a few notable desert dwellers, such as rattlesnakes, Gila Monsters, and Giant Desert Hairy Scorpions. There was even a 2009 sighting of a rare jaguar. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has wildlife and flora on display, and is the best place to learn more.

With all that sunshine, Tucson is an outdoor lover's paradise. Scores of golf courses dot the city. Hiking possibilities are limitless and year-round in the Santa Catalina and Santa Rita Mountains nearby, with Sabino Canyon Recreation Area being a local favorite. Mountain bikers come to Tucson by the thousands for the miles of single-track trails in the desert. Bird-watchers can explore some of the richest avian populations in North America in nearby secluded canyons. And there's even a ski area among fir and pine trees atop Mt. Lemmon, which has an elevation of more than 9,000 feet.

Tucson's Hispanic community is woven into the fabric of everyday life in the city, and is reflected in the Mexican restaurants, the Spanish place names, and the arts and culture that play a large part in forming Tucson's identity. The arts abound in Tucson in dozens of galleries, such as the Etherton Gallery or DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun (celebrating the work of Tucson artist Ted DeGrazia). The University of Arizona houses the Creative Center for Photography, the nation's largest repository of photographs by notable artists such as Ansel Adams and W. Eugene Smith.

As a desert city, Tucson gets hot in the summertime with temps ranging in the 100s from May to mid-September. Winter is the busy season, when many visitors succumb to the temptations of 75-degree days and pleasant evenings around a fireplace. Summers can be enjoyable too, by sticking close to a pool or indulging in shopping -- just remember to pack extra water and avoid exertion in the midday sun. Locals might suggest taking a siesta -- "nap" in Spanish -- during midday hours.

It's important to realize that freeways are nonexistent in Tucson, save for I-10. Driving times can vary depending on time of day, as rush hour creates a twice-daily snarl on surface streets.

  • 20-minute drive to Tucson International Airport
  • 5-minute drive to Reid Park Zoo
  • 10-minute drive to the The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona
  • 15-minute drive to Pima Air and Space Museum
  • 20-minute drive to the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
  • 25-minute drive to La Encantada shopping area
  • 25-minute drive to Mission San Xavier del Bac
  • 30-minute drive to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area
  • 35-minute drive to Old Tucson Studios
  • 35-minute drive to Saguaro National Park East
  • 35-minute drive to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum
  • 90-minute drive to Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley
  • 2-hour drive to Phoenix

 Rooms

A mix of historic and modern rooms, with charming decor, flat-screen TVs, and some good views

The Traditional Fireside Double Queen Room at the Lodge on the Desert
The Traditional Fireside Double Queen Room at the Lodge on the Desert

The 103 rooms at the Lodge on the Desert are divided between the historic rooms that date to the 1930s, and the more modern rooms that were added in 2009.

An “Old Southwest” look pervades all the rooms, with charming decor that includes painted motifs on the walls, framed prints of Tucson scenery, Native American pottery, and rustic furniture. Saltillo tile floors, wood beam ceilings, and adobe fireplaces are included with some rooms. Views will vary.

  • 32- or 42-inch flat-screen TVs with premium channels
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Simmons Beautyrest Black Beverly Hills Plush memory foam beds
  • Coffeemakers with free coffee
  • Some rooms have showers only
  • Not all rooms have safes, safety deposit boxes are available at the front desk
  • Rooms facing north will have good views of the Santa Catalina Mountains
  • Traditional Fireside rooms feature adobe-style fireplaces.
  • Deluxe Spa King rooms come with Jacuzzi tubs and king-size beds.
  • Upgrading to a suite gets you a separate living room. Some suites also offer fireplaces and private patios.

 Features

Small, heated pool with waterfalls and adjacent Jacuzzi

Library at the Lodge on the Desert
Library at the Lodge on the Desert
  • Small pool is heated and features waterfalls and an adjacent Jacuzzi
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free self-parking
  • No fitness center or spa
  • Indoor and outdoor event spaces encompass more than 10,000 square feet, on-site event planners available
  • View Full List of Amenities

 Food

The Lodge on the Desert Restaurant features contemporary American fare that is popular with many guests

  • The Lodge on the Desert Restaurant serves up contemporary American cuisine in indoor and outdoor seating areas inspired by the "Old Southwest." Decor includes rough-hewn, hand-painted wood beams and Mexican tin chandeliers. The menu is popular with many guests, and gluten-free options are available. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Seasonal poolside food and beverage service is available daily.
  • The Lodge Bar features a daily happy hour.
  • Room service is available.

 Bottom Line

The upper-middle-range Lodge on the Desert is a unique slice of Tucson, with a 75-plus-year history and an updated look that gives its historic rooms a modern feel. The boutique hotel features a hacienda-style layout, big rooms, lovely landscaping and decor, and a heated pool -- though it is quite small -- with water features. But some may find the historic Arizona Inn a tad more charming, and it is often similarly priced.

Things You Should Know About Lodge on the Desert

Address

  • 306 North Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85711

Room Types

  • Deluxe Room
  • Deluxe Spa Room
  • Deluxe Suite
  • Traditional Fireside Double
  • Traditional Room
  • Traditional Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 103
Pool: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Jacuzzi (in room): Some
View All

Hotel Information

Location: Tucson, Arizona
Address: 306 North Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85711
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