Review: The Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore

I wanted to stay in Phoenix for a night before I headed to Las Vegas to start my road tip and I needed a Hilton hotel for the status match. There were loads to choose from, and I ended up choosing the Arizona Biltmore as it wasn’t much more than many of the other hotels and I had high hopes of it being a Waldorf Astoria.

The hotel was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1920s and opened to the first guests in 1929. It is a marvel of Art Deco design and sensitive refurbishments over time have kept the character of the place.

Once I landed from LAX into Phoenix, I ordered an Uber as I was getting in to the main concourse (before security for departures) and was delighted by the wall of desert heat that hit me as I left the building. The car pulled up a minute later and I was at the hotel about 15 minutes and 6 miles later. For such a short stay, getting Ubers is far better than hiring a car at roughly $20 each way.

I originally booked into a Classic King Room and when I was emailed by the concierge a few days before travel, I enquired about lounge access, Diamond benefits and whether there was an opportunity for an upgrade. I was offered a paid upgrade into an Ocatilla Room for $35 which I gladly took. Whilst I would get a breakfast credit and a drink as a Diamond, the Ocatilla Wing is the most recently refurbished part of the hotel and is described as a ‘hotel within a hotel’. I thought that it was good value for money.

I arrived and was greeted by a view of this beautiful lobby.

The room I had was on the first floor and had a view of the Ocatilla Pool.

I had a walk around the hotel to soak up the architecture. There is a free history tour that runs a few times a week, but unfortunately it was not on when I was there. Given it was nearly 40 degrees C, I headed to the Ocatilla pool and had a drink from the bar.

There is another, larger, pool complex in the middle of the hotel but this is busier. It does have a cool water slide, though!

The Ocatilla Lounge is just on the left as you enter the wing and is always staffed by the dedicated Ocatilla Concierges who were always smiling and friendly. They are there to answer any questions, set up all the benefits of being in the wing and to help with the service. There is always soft drinks, coffee and snacks available – a cold drink in the air conditioned lounge was very welcome. 

In the evening there is a light bites and cocktail hours. 

Beer and wine is complimentary, and there is an honesty bar for spirits.

I was pleased with the beer selection (in that I didn’t have to drink Stella or Corona!) so I didn’t bother with anything else.

Having spent the previous day eating and drinking in first class cabins and lounges I was happy to nibble on a few snacks in lieu of dinner and then head to bed reasonably early.

This helped me to wake up at a decent time and head to the gym. The hotel is lovely first thing in the morning.

When I got back to the room, another of the Ocatilla benefits had been left outside the door – coffee and fruit juice.  A lovely way to rehydrate!

I went back to the lounge for breakfast which was fine – there was a selection of cereals, fruit, yoghurts and some eggs as well as bread and pastries.

I checked out from the lounge itself before ordering an Uber back to the airport. I really enjoyed the stay; the hotel was well-appointed, beautiful architecturally and the service was great. It was definitely a great start to the trip.

Fast forward a year and I needed a place to stay with Mum when she joined me on another Bucharest to Phoenix trip. We booked straight into a Twin Room in the Ocatilla Wing and were upgraded to a Junior Suite with 2 Queen beds. The experience was much the same, so it doesn’t get a full write up. The only difference was that we were able to get on the History tour before we headed to the airport and it was fascinating. There were about 50 people in the group to start, and it might have been nicer in a smaller group, but it was free and interesting.

There were beautiful features like the gold leaf-covered ball room and this glass artwork on the wall. I loved the fact that there is a search light on the roof which the authorities were told was to warn aircraft of the hotel’s location. In actual fact, it was to shine down onto a skylight in a secret room where people could have a drink during Prohibition to alert them to the arrival of the police so they could hid everything away!

The only downside on this tstay was the breakfast offering in the lounge was worse; there was no protein available, just bread and pastries so we ended up going to the restaurant, Frank and Albert’s. I cant remember what I had, but I do recall it being very tasty. I mentioned at checkout that we had eaten in the restaurant as the lounge was so poor, and the meal was comped which was a very fair gesture from the hotel. 

I dont know when it will be, but I am looking forward to my third stay too!

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