Category - Stay

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A Relaxing Night’s Rest at Rim Country’s Strawberry Inn
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Graduate Tempe Brings Academic Nostalgia to Travelers and Students
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Hotel Valencia Riverwalk – San Antonio

A Relaxing Night’s Rest at Rim Country’s Strawberry Inn

Located about 30 minutes north of Payson, and nestled amongst the piney forest of Rim Country. lies the blink-and-you’re-through town of Strawberry, AZ. The Mr and I paid the town a visit this during our last trip to the Grand Canyon State, mainly because I was a tiny bit obsessed with wanting to try the cinnamon rolls at Pine Creek Fudge. Aside from my food cravings, I also wanted to stay at The Strawberry Inn, a tiny boutique hotel that I’ve heard so much about (along with PCF) via Instagram. Luckily, they had rooms available for the date that we’d be coming in, and we made the side trip happen.

The Strawberry Inn almost reminds me of a Swiss chalet, or a quaint little inn in Alpine region of Central Europe. The two-story, eight-room inn is painted a dark grey and trimmed with white and red. There were numerous Adirondack chairs, rockers, picnic tables, and a couple porch swings that made it possible for guests to enjoy the evening sunsets and gorgeous mountain scenery. The focal point of the Inn was the famed (and most photographed) windmill, which sat a couple feet from the main building.

Since the Inn operates on a vacation rental setting, we had made our reservation online, and then were given a lockbox code to get to our key the day we arrived. I’m sure if you’ve researched the Inn, you’ll notice that a majority of the folks who have stayed there, have mentioned that the interior decor reminds them of Fixer Upper. I couldn’t agree more. I could see Joanna Gaines’ influence in the white ship-lapped walls, the hues of subtle whites and grays, and the hint of industrial chic. We stayed in room six, which was on the upper level. It featured a cozy king bed, sitting area for two, Keurig station, and good-sized restroom with standing shower. A hotel and area guidebook is also in the room, which I highly recommend reading when you first arrive. Before we left, I also took advantage of the little chalkboard (as most of the guests do) to doodle a thank-you message to the couple.

I didn’t get a chance to meet owners- Amber and Carson personally, however, I was able to e-chat with them briefly about the Inn. The Inn was built in the late 1970s, and was used as an office building. There was even a coffee shop that was housed in the windmill at one point (boy would I have loved to have seen that). Then it was converted into a motel called The Windmill Corner Inn. When the couple found it, it had been through a tax sale, and the last owner had done some cosmetic work, while also furnishing it with used hotel furniture. Amber goes on to explain, “As a family, we have had a connection to the Pine-Strawberry community for a long time, and have great memories of spending time in the area with family over the years. The idea of being able to create a unique getaway for others to come and fall in love with Rim Country was incredibly appealing! We stayed in the Inn during the summer of 2016 before committing to the purchase. The beds were uncomfortable and the lack of air-conditioning coupled with windows that wouldn’t open left us feeling pretty discouraged and we considered walking away from the deal. We packed up our kiddos at 11 at night to head back home, and just as we were getting out of town a BEAR ran across the highway! Yes, a real BEAR! Maybe we were just sleep deprived at that point, but we took it as a sign and decided to continue with the purchase, fully aware of the huge amount of time and energy this was going to take. We dove headfirst into a complete remodel of the property. It was a family affair, with a ton of help and support from both sides of our families. After a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, we officially launched in November 2016 and were thrilled when we sold out our very first weekend.”

Their hard work has definitely paid off. With cozy rooms that won’t break the bank, it’s no surprise that people flock to the town to stay there when they venture off to Tonto Natural Bridge, Mogollon Rim, Fossil Creek, and other numerous outdoor excursions. Next time, I’ll be sure to stay in Amber’s favorite room- number eight. “It’s REALLY hard to choose. We intentionally made each room unique and loved every minute of choosing pieces for each space. Room Eight has always been a favorite though, because it has an extra window that lets in tons of natural light.”

When we stayed at the Inn, a majority of the restaurants were either closed for that day, or closed early. We managed to find one decent place in town- Bandits, which was a bar and grill, that served up decent grub. I also recommend stopping at Mogollon Moose Bakery in Payson. They are open for breakfast and lunch, and have really great staff and food. Plus, the space is the cutest, and features goods from local artists. Also, definitely stop by The Honey Stand in Pine to pick up local honey, jam, and salsa. The next morning, we drove a couple miles back to Pine to get a cinnamon roll from Pine Creek Fudge. And yes…totally worth it! It’s a great little local coffee shop that serves coffee, lattes, ice cream, etc. It’s a MUST stop in my book! I can’t wait to get the chance to stay there again. This time, it’ll be for a couple days, in order to explore the area, and eat at more local restaurants.

Amber and Carson also recommend while in the area:

• Visit the Fossil Creek Waterfall – It’s beautiful, and even the most stunning photographs don’t do it justice. Permits sell out fast though.

• Old County Inn (Pine), wood-fired pizza and live music. (The owners are preparing to open a brand new restaurant in town called Pinewood Tavern that we can’t wait to try!)

• Breakfast at Randall House. They make the most amazing French Toast we’ve ever had. And for lunch, they take a simple grilled ham and cheese sandwich and turn it into the most delicious sandwich in the world!

• Old Strawberry Schoolhouse. It’s the oldest schoolhouse still standing in the state- cute photo op.

• Pine Creek Canyon Lavender Farm – one of the newer additions to the Pine-Strawberry community. It’s a beautiful farm where they also make and sell lavender goodies, and host cooking and canning classes as well.

• Pine Creek Ice cream and Fudge. They also make espresso drinks which I always need on “vacation.” When guests add on the romance package to their reservation, we get the fudge from Pine Creek Fudge (we love shopping local!)

 

Please scroll down for a mini-tour of my time in Strawberry (starting with the Inn)!

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

strawberry inn, strawberry, arizona, travel, inn

Around town…

Strawberry, AZ, Arizona, Rim Country

Strawberry, AZ, Arizona, Rim Country

The Honey Stand, Pine, Arizona, Rim Country

Mogollon Moose Bakery, Payson, Arizona, Rim Country

Pine Creek Fudge cinnamon roll, Pine, Arizona

 

 

Graduate Tempe Brings Academic Nostalgia to Travelers and Students

The Graduate Tempe was our home away from home for a few days during the Mr and I’s last trip to Phoenix. The Downtown Tempe hotel is situated across the street of one of the largest universities in the country- Arizona State University. Like her nine (with more on the way) other sisters in the Graduate family, she was created for students and travelers alike; while also residing in the country’s most progressive college towns. Each hotel’s design is a thoughtful nod to nostalgic school days, while also giving acknowledgment to the town in which it resides.

The Tempe location is a 140-room building that used to be a Howard Johnsons in the 1970s. Then it became Twin Palms in 1994, before the final renovation to Graduate Tempe in 2014. The property was modeled after a 1970s tourist stop, with a Southwest twist. The designers collected artwork locally (while also trying to stay true to that particular era), through various aspects, such as: yard sales, Goodwill, and other thrift shops, estate sales, etc. The walls of the elevators resemble a cork board that could be found in a teachers lounge. The front desk is decorated with all the pages of Darwin’s The Origin of Species. A vacant desert-themed ant farm hangs proudly behind the reception. A local sketch artist designed the ‘People Paper’ wallpaper in the guest bathrooms. Since the hotel has some ties to the adjacent university, there are also subtle designs located within the property that pays tribute to the university, such as that the room keys that feature ASU alumni. The Normal Diner (which used to be an IHOP) was named after the school’s original name, Normal School of Teaching. The honeycomb pattern in the ballroom flooring and lighting pays tribute to ASUs Arts and Science school. Another nice touch in the reception area is that each agent on duty has a framed mini-bio at their station. The first floor also boasts a 24-hour fitness room and a small business area. Ride a separate elevator up to the top floor, where you’ll find the ballroom, rooftop bar, and event space.

Graduate Tempe believes in being the “living room” of the community, in that they source the artwork and food locally; they also try to involve the community in any way they can. For example, they have lobby activations for the students during graduation or finals; game nights and live music nights. The public is also invited to spend the day at the pool, they just have to make a purchase at Tapacubo Poolside Cantina.

The hotel is also dog-friendly, so be sure to let them know when you book your stay. You’ll receive a complimentary BarkBox upon check-in. Inside the box, you’ll find school themed goodies for your pooch. You’ll also receive a bowl and blanket for your dog to use during the stay.

I really enjoyed my stay at the hotel. I’d definitely have to say that the lobby was my favorite part of the property. Just seeing all the different pieces of artwork (still) has me obsessing over having the ultimate #wallgoals and scouring all the thrift shops and such for fun and amazing pieces of art. I also loved the colorful and multi-patterned couches, as well as the other Mid-Century inspired furnishings. Every aspect of that lobby was tied together perfectly. The room was cozy, and offered a great view of the city from the balcony. There was an in-room small refrigerator and iron with an ironing board that we found ourselves actually using quite often during our stay. Malin + Goetz toiletries provided a refreshing zen vibe after a long day of running around the city.

Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with their different events and such! Also, ask about their bike rentals. Parking is $7 per night.

Scroll down for a photo tour!

Graduate Tempe, exterior, diner, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, exterior, restaurant, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, lobby, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe,Pool, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hallway, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Graduate Tempe, interior, hotel, Arizona

Normal Diner, food, Arizona, AZ

The photo collage above was taken at the Normal Diner back in 2016, when I had the opportunity to eat there (as I didn’t have the chance this time around). I LOVED the service and the food! It’s definitely a cute little place to eat!

 

 

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk – San Antonio

In the heart of downtown San Antonio (or SA, as I like to call it), and conveniently located on one of the city’s most prized attractions- the Riverwalk; sits the Hotel Valencia. The 213-room boutique hotel actually got quite the renovation during the early part of 2017. Architect and designer Lauren Rottet chose to pay homage to San Antonio rich Spanish Colonial heritage, which dates back to when the missions were built, which was around the 1700s. Rottet also infused Modern Mediterranean influence into the building, as a nod to the Tuscan-style architecture to the hotel’s namesake- Valencia, Spain. The hotel offers numerous cozy lounges, a business center, a large event space, a beautiful open-air courtyard, in-room spa services, and a fitness center. Guests also have the option of dining at the only Argentinian-inspired restaurant in the city- Dorrego’s, or cafe/bar- Naranja.

The Mr and I stayed in one of their deluxe balcony king rooms with a lovely terrace that faces the Riverwalk. The Spanish Colonial theme can also be seen throughout the room, with the curved iron headboard that serves as the focal point. I feel that the dark plantation shutters hint at the city’s southern roots, but also offer a nice contrast that leads out onto the quaint terrace. A good night’s rest was had on their custom designed Valencia bed. The Mr is actually still raving about how well he slept on it. You can actually shop the bedding and more on the Shop Valencia portion of the website. We didn’t have the chance to check out Dorrego’s during this trip, but we did have the complimentary European-style continental FIT breakfast. It was located in the main lobby, and featured a variety of pastries, yogurt, cereal, fresh fruit, and a coffee/tea bar. You can also get fresh squeezed orange juice from the DIY OJ machine at Naranja’s. That OJ was literally the best we’ve ever tasted (as of this posting)! I also enjoyed checking out the rustic features, elegant ironwork, exquisitely handcrafted tilework, and the textiles that also gave the impression of Texas’ western culture.

I recommend signing up to be a Valencia VIP, as you’ll be asked several questions regarding what your preferences are in regards to welcome amenities, room type preference, etc.

Scroll down for a virtual tour of the hotel!

NOTE: I was given a complimentary night’s stay in exchange for my honest review. 

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, hotel

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