If you’re just looking for a place to store your gear while you’re out exploring the desert, you’ll find hundreds of mid-priced chain hotels in and around Tucson. But if you’re the kind of person who likes a little style and atmosphere where you sleep and wake up—who takes pleasure in and inspiration from surprising architectural and artistic details, in stories and histories—you’ll find a few unforgettable historic hotels, boutique inns, and bed-and-breakfast-style accommodations here as well.
Since the late 19th century, travelers have come to Tucson to find health, rest, and a new lease on life. Those who suffered from TB and other chest ailments came here in droves over the years, sent to the desert by their doctors for the supposed cure provided by the dry air. The first big hotels in Tucson, then, were tent cities thrown up in the streets to house the constant stream of hacking patients.
Later, the business community got together and started marketing the sunshine and easy living in the Southwest, and Tucson became what it is today—a world-renowned spa destination and seasonless desert playground for those outrunning the snow and ice. And so the resorts and the hotels and the dude ranches and motor courts began to proliferate, as they still do today.
If you have pockets deeper than the vast majority of Americans, by all means book a week at Canyon Ranch, but try and get beyond the resort walls once in a while. If, like most of us, you fall somewhere in the middle—you want a bit of style and personality, but you don’t want to leverage your future to have it—you will likely find what you’ve been looking for here in the Old Pueblo.
© Tim Hull from Moon Tucson, 1st Edition