Sun, sun, and more sun. That’s how I can describe most of Arizona for most of the year. Unless you’re up north, it’s hot. Mostly hot, most of the time. And in this heat, you really need an oasis in which to relax, cool down, and keep your head from melting and sticking to the pavement.
After coming east from California on Route 66 and staying several days in Flagstaff (where it’s anything but hot), we headed down to the Phoenix area to take a break from the road and spend several days relaxing and getting caught up on work.
And frankly, there’s no better place to stay in the Phoenix area than the Red Lion Inn & Suites in Tempe. Seriously.
The lovely people at Red Lion Hotels are a supporter of our “Fabric of America” tour. They covered our stay, and we’re writing about it in return. This journey would not be possible without them (and you). Read about their support right here.
In case you haven’t read about our tour: You can read about it here, read about sponsorships here, and support our project yourself right here.
If you’ve been keeping up with the antics of our “Fabric of America” trip, then you know we’ve been doing our best to keep off the interstate.
We took the scenic drive down from Flagstaff, passing through the was-once-beautiful-and-serene-but-is-now-a-tourist-mecca city of Sedona…
…and the mountain magnificence of Jerome.
Here’s how we got to Tempe.
View Larger Map
Checking in, it was immediately apparent to us that this particular property is entirely different than pretty much any hotel we’ve stayed at.
While Red Lion hotels are all different on purpose, this one is in a league all its own. It used to be apartments, but seems more like it used to be a resort.
It’s broken up into three sections that could easily be three different hotels. In fact, it’s so big that you get a map.
There are two swimming pools…
…a tennis court (!!!)…
…and a putting green (!!!!!!!!!).
Are you serious? I can’t tell if it’s this way because it used to be apartments, or if it’s just because that’s how it is in Arizona. It sort of brought back memories from my youth when we visited my snowbird grandparents in Tucson.
Of course, this is a hotel and not a retirement community, so the dynamic is completely different. That doesn’t mean you won’t feel resort-ful from all the amenities that are at hand.
From what we gathered, the hotel caters mostly to families of students and visitors to Arizona State University, which is just a couple of minutes down the road.
We were here in low season – the dead of summer before school starts – so the hotel was fairly empty and taking a breather before the onslaught of student families and Sun Devils fans would crowd the place through late spring.
Stepping into our room was like stepping into home away from home. There’s no bed in sight when you first enter. Because, see, the bed is in its own bedroom.
Our room had a full living area with a full kitchen and desk.
Heading beyond that, you find the full bedroom, complete with an actual walk-in closet and a nice-size bathroom.
Plush doesn’t begin to describe it.
We also had two air conditioners to keep out that nasty triple-digit weather. Yikes.
Also, this. Every hotel should have a few of these in every room.
And about two feet from our front door was one of the pools. I’d gather that it can get kind of loud here during high season, but there was nary a peep during our time there, and we enjoyed basically having the entire pool to ourselves.
If we lived in Tempe, we could probably live in this hotel room. No joke.
In addition to the aforementioned amenities, there are a few laundry rooms on the property…
…as well as at least one fitness room we found but didn’t use because, psh, fitness.
There’s also a free shuttle service that will take you and pick you up from anywhere within a few miles. It was stressed to us by the staff that if we drank anything, we should call them.
I presume this is standard advice given the amount of ASU fans that stay here. This is great advice though, and it’s nice to see Red Lion is willing to care for its guests in this manner.
If you make your way to the central area of the hotel, you’ll find a huge lobby with couches and a dining room large enough to fit tons of people for the massive continental breakfasts that are served every morning.
And if you feel like kickin’ it outside instead, there’s a large patio with tables, couches, and TVs.
While we didn’t get out much during our stay here – that wasn’t the plan – we really loved how, not only were the Red Lion staff friendly and willing to give plenty of local suggestions, but that these suggestions are part of the key-card holders given out to each guest.
You can hardly say there’s nothing to do when Red Lion puts a grip of ideas in the palm of your hand upon check-in.
The only downside we found to our stay here – besides the one-chair-one-desk-space thing that plagues us at every hotel in the world – is that a little birdie told us one of the wings of the hotel is being turned into another brand’s property.
Guess the franchise owners think their place is too big as well. Overall, that shouldn’t change what’s on offer here, as there is more than enough space and there are more than ample amenities for two separate properties.
All in all, there’s nowhere else we would stay in the Phoenix area. The price is right, and what you get in return for that is leagues beyond what you’ll get at pretty much any other hotel.
This is easily one of the finest places we stayed during our “Fabric of America” adventure, and we couldn’t recommend it more.
- Location: Minutes from downtown Tempe and ASU, just outside of Phoenix.
- Clientele: Great for families and business travelers alike.
- Technology: Fast wi-fi, free for an unlimited number of devices.
- Beds: Excellent and plush. Lots of pillows. No problem sleeping for the easy-sleeper and the insomniac.
- Rooms: Huge. Really huge. One-bedroom apartment huge. No balconies, but every room opens to the outside.
- Amenities: Cable TV, wi-fi, telephone, desk with a proper office chair, couch, armchair, end tables, refrigerator, stove, microwave, coffee maker, two outdoor pools, jacuzzi, coin laundry, putting green, fitness center, free shuttle service.
- Bathroom: Plenty of eco-friendly soaps and lotions by Pure, good shower with plenty of hot water.
- Dining: Breakfast is included and features standard continental fare as well as hot goodies and coffee all day.
- Staff: The entire crew is the best in the business. Very helpful with recommendations and putting up with us.
- Cleanliness: Rooms are very clean. Property kept clean 24/7, inside and out.
- Distractions: Pools, putting greens, proximity to ASU and downtown Tempe.
- Attractions: Everywhere in the Phoenix area.
- Snacks & Such: Small convenience store at the front desk, 7-Eleven next door, countless other stores within a couple minutes’ walk, plenty of delivery options.
- Value: The best in the business for a mid-scale hotel. Highly recommended.
The Red Lion Inn & Suites in Tempe, Arizona, is located here:
1429 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Tempe, AZ 85281
Tel: +1 (480) 675-9799
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Have you ever been to Tempe, Arizona, or stayed at this Red Lion property? Any thoughts about Red Lion overall? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!