Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Unique historic property with modern feel and beautiful grounds
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.
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.
A mix of historic and modern rooms, with charming decor, flat-screen TVs, and some good views
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.
Small, heated pool with waterfalls and adjacent Jacuzzi
The Lodge on the Desert Restaurant features contemporary American fare that is popular with many guests
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.