Historic Inns of Prescott, AZ

Written by Elizabeth Rose

October 9, 2021
Home >> Travel >> Hotels and Resorts >> Historic Inns of Prescott, AZ

When visiting the historic town of Prescott, Arizona, check out these three historic hotels: the Hassayampa Inn, Hotel St. Michael, and the boutique The Grand Highland Hotel.

When visiting the historic town of Prescott, Arizona—the original Arizona Territorial capital—you’ll find three historic hotels right in the vicinity of Courthouse Plaza, the center of Prescott’s historic and cultural activities. A must-see, even if only strolling through the beautiful lobby, is the grande dame of them all—the Hassayampa Inn.

Exploring the Historic Hassayampa Inn

Built in 1927, the Hassayampa Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places and a member of the National Trust of Historic Hotels of America. The inn has beautifully preserved its historic integrity. The 67-room inn represents the glamour of a bygone era when only the well-heeled might be able to travel by automobile, pulling up under the Hassayampa’s portico. Today, the driveway curving up to the portico looks narrow, but cars were smaller in the 1920s.

Prescott's Hassayampa Inn

The Hassayampa Inn on Gurley Street. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Origins of the Hassayampa Inn

The residents of Prescott first conceptualized the inn as a way to attract tourists to their city. The local Kiwanis Club took the lead and grass-roots funding provided a base for the construction of the brick hotel, designed to fit in well with the other buildings around Courthouse Square. And what does the name mean? Hassayampa, the name of a nearby river, was an Apache word for a “river that loses itself.” In Wickenburg, to the south, where the river continues on, they call it the “upside down river,” as the river flows underground for part of its path and reappears when it hits bedrock below the silt.

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The El Paso Architectural firm, Trost & Trost, were hired to design the inn with the hopes that they would replicate the look and feel of the Franciscan Hotel in Albuquerque, also a Trost project. As it turned out, the Hassayampa Inn was modified a bit. The architects designed it in the style of Renaissance Revival and Mission Revival, the latter style adapted to Prescott by being built with red brick rather than white stucco. You’ll catch Mission Revival details throughout the building. Look up in front and you’ll see a bell tower with a tile roof. The garden, anchored by a fountain, is also reminiscent of the old missions.

Hassayampa Inn Bell Tower

The Hassayampa Inn with its tile-roofed bell tower. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Once open, the inn hosted famous visitors including Tom Mix, Will Rogers, Greta Garbo, and Clark Gable.

Touring the Hassayampa Inn

Since the goal was to make the Hassayampa Inn a first-class hotel, the décor includes details such as hand-painted wooden beams in the lobby and hand-made tilework.

The staff operated an elevator off the lobby (and continues to do so today) and the shoeshine stand was there to spiff up travelers’ dusty footwear. When you walk through, look for western art, etched glass doors, and pianos, all adding to the ambiance.

Hassayampa Inn Lobby

With hand-painted beams, original tile, and elegant chandeliers, the inviting lobby is a centerpiece of the Hassayampa Inn. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The elegant bar and restaurant continue today. Next to the etched and stained glass doors to the Arizona Room, you’ll see an honor roll of 400 stockholders who purchased shares to support the building of this beautiful inn. The mayor at the time, Morris Goldwater, was a strong supporter.

Arizona Room

The Arizona Room has beautiful stained glass doors. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The Hassayampa Inn Today

After undergoing a renovation mid-1980s, the inn was updated to meet the requirements of modern travelers while retaining the charm and original touches that help qualify Hassayampa Inn to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to adding a new heating and cooling system, the renovations included modifying guest rooms to add private bathrooms.


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The guest floors, with soft carpeting and antiques, retain an elegant feel. Although I have not had the opportunity to stay at the Hassayampa Inn, I peeked in a very special room – Room 426, The Grand Balcony Room.

Hassayampa Inn Room

While you'll have modern conveniences at the Hassayampa Inn, the rooms retain the grandeur of the 1920s. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

This spacious room, decorated with southwestern art, has a door that opens out to a balcony overlooking the historic Elks Theater across the street. It’s the only room with a place where you can relax outdoors in private during your stay. And, it’s a room with a well-known ghost!

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Hassayampa Hauntings

As the story goes, just after the inn opened in 1927, a newlywed couple checked into the Grand Balcony Room. They say the gentleman stepped out to go buy a pack of smokes and never returned. The bride, Faith Summers, waited several days for her love to return and eventually became despondent and hung herself. It is said that the hotel staff found her body on day four. Her body was visible to passersby on Gurley Street just below. Now when I visited the Balcony Room, I didn’t feel her presence but she has been reported being seen throughout the hotel including the Peacock Room restaurant where things mysteriously happen in the kitchen, like burners going out unexpectedly.

Hassayampa Inn Balcony Room

The Hassayampa Inn private balcony is now an ideal place to relax and look out over downtown. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Stay at The Hassayampa Inn

The inn remains a gathering place for locals and visitors alike. Modern-day guests include movie stars like Tom Selleck, Steve McQueen, Joan Rivers, and more. The Beach Boys have stayed there and, of course, politicians like Barry Goldwater and John McCain have enjoyed a stay or two.

Hassayampa Inn King

The Hassayampa Inn's rooms vary in decor and view but the focus is on comfort. Photo courtesy Hassayampa Inn

The rooms are comfortable with updated classic décor and amenities. The inn welcomes furry guests up to 45 pounds at no extra charge. While many rooms have views of Gurley Street, you always just steps away from the historic attractions of Prescott’s downtown.

Hassayampa Inn Fireplace

In winter the Hassayampa Inn fireplace makes for a great gathering place. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The Hassayampa Inn is popular for weddings and gatherings of classic car clubs. Guests enjoy upscale dining in the Peacock Room and live jazz in the cozy lobby bar. Be sure to wander through this gem of Arizona history.

Hassayampa Inn Bar

The cozy Hassayampa Inn Bar retained elegant touches from the 1920s. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Historic Hotel St. Michael on Whiskey Row

During my personal walking tour of historic hotels of Prescott, I included the large brick building on the corner of Whiskey Row and wondered what stories the Hotel St. Michael might hold. This hotel predates the Hassayampa Inn and the Roaring Twenties.

Hotel St. Michael

The Hotel St. Michael sits on the corner of Whiskey Row across from Courthouse Square. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The Fireproof Hotel

The original hotel on this site was built in the late 1800s. The two-story Hotel Burke drew visitors from all over and was advertised as Prescott’s only “fireproof hotel.” In the day, it was the most elegant hotel in the downtown area and overlooked the square. It was considered elegant for a “wild west” hotel and attracted visitors like President Theodore Roosevelt, Will Rogers, and Zane Grey. It was so beautiful that people decided to hold weddings in the lobby—something new because the tradition had been for people to wed in a family home.

The Famous Fire of 1900

As I mentioned in my story of Whiskey Row’s Palace Saloon, a raging fire broke out just a few doors down. The fire ultimately destroyed the entire block including this so-called fireproof hotel.

Hotel St. Michael Plaque

As I strolled downtown Prescott, I stopped and read the history of the buildings. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Within a year, the owners built a new Hotel Burke, this one was three stories. In 1907, the hotel changed hands and was re-named Hotel St. Michael, after the owner, Michael Hickey. Throughout the years, the hotel had a sketchy past and just never regained the elegance of the early years. But don’t discount the Hotel St. Michael. Things have changed!


The Cornerstone of Whiskey Row

Just as a visit to The Palace Saloon and Restaurant should be part of a visit to Prescott, the place to stay to re-live the 1900s and the Territorial era of Arizona is the Hotel St. Michael. It now has been updated while keeping the feel of the original downtown hotel where politicians and local luminaries stayed. You’ll access the small lobby with dark antique wood and brass accents through the hotel’s shopping arcade.

Hotel St. Michael

You enter the hotel via an intriguing passageway with galleries, a bookstore, and a Native American artifact shop. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The arcade is worth visiting, especially on a hot afternoon. You’ll find locally-owned shops including galleries and an indie bookstore. The hotel’s lobby and reception is at the end of the walkway. It immediately transports you back to the early 1900s.

Hotel St. Michael

Hotel St. Michael lobby with historical photos of Whiskey Row. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Off the lobby is an event room where the hotel hosts weddings and gatherings. This hotel, like the Hassayampa Inn, has a unique elevator. This Otis Traction Elevator, installed in 1925, was the first elevator in Prescott. Guests can operate this one or take the impressive staircase to their room.

St. Michael Staircase

The Hotel St. Michael Staircase is often used as a photo backdrop for brides who are married at the hotel. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Staying at Hotel St. Michael

The day I toured, I took the stairs to an upper floor. The carpeted hallways are wide. Some of the rooms overlook Courthouse Square, and in one room—315—a female ghost makes her presence known in a variety of ways. A strong smell of perfume has been reported and has been attributed to her. Some guests have reported her also appearing in the vicinity of the elevator. Other than this, there appear to be no specific stories about her.

Hotel St. Michael

Although refurbished, the halls look much as they would have in the hotel's heyday. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The rooms have individual air conditioning and private baths. The feel is definitely appropriate for a fan of Whiskey Row and Arizona history. Matt’s Saloon and the Palace Saloon are right next door. Around the corner, you’ll find La Planchera Taqueria and a bakery.

Hotel St. Michael

This is one of the rooms that overlook the park at Courtyard Square. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The most sought-after rooms are those that overlook the beautiful Courthouse Square. The rooms have modern and comfortable beds yet retain the early Arizona feel. There are two suites at the hotel. The Executive Suite includes a king bed and a separate living area. Family Units feature a queen bed in the main room and two twin beds in a small adjoining room. Pets are not permitted.

The Grand Highland Hotel

The Grand Highland Hotel, right down Whiskey Row from Hotel St. Michael, is not easy to find. “Look for the courtyard,” they’ll suggest. And that worked. The hotel space is narrow and doesn’t stand out like an imposing “grand hotel.”

Grand Highland Hotel

The entrance to the Grand Highland Hotel is next to the Holiday event courtyard. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose


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This 12-room boutique hotel and lovely event courtyard were born as a result of not just the 1900 fire, but a second fire in May 2012. Once a first-floor curio shop and upstairs hotel, dubbed the Highland Hotel, plus three adjacent businesses, the complex was damaged and partially burned. It was time, the owners decided, to re-envision the space. While the adjacent burned businesses were completely razed and not replaced to make room for an event courtyard, the shop and hotel were reconstructed to create a lovely contemporary boutique hotel with authentic historic touches.

A Boutique Hotel

On my short several-block walk starting at the Hassayampa Inn, I had visited the Roaring Twenties, experienced the Territorial-era of Arizona and, now I was touring a hotel decorated with pops of color and comfortable modern rooms yet retaining the cozy feel of what probably existed with the original Highland Hotel.

I walked into the small lobby and noticed an old cigar sign on the brick wall across the room. I later found out that it was original.

General Arthur Cigar Ad

The hotel retained this old General Arthur Cigar sign in the lobby. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

I rang the bell and a staff member greeted me and toured me through the hotel. I visited a beautiful indoor event space that opened out to the spacious courtyard complete with a stage. Across the open courtyard, I saw a mural taking up part of one of the walls with photos depicting the history of Whiskey Row.

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Courtyard Event Space

The courtyard event space made good use of the old brick walls and incorporated photos of Prescott Whiskey Row history. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The Grand Highland Hotel Rooms

Up the stairs, I peeked into several rooms, all with a contemporary flair and accented with bright colors and artwork. The use of the exposed brick added to the old/new ambiance. The beds were of the cushy variety (my preference) with crisp white sheeting. The rooms had individual state-of-the-art heating and a/c units on the upper wall.

Capital Suite

The Capitol King Suite offers a sitting parlor and a full-size sleeper sofa. Each room has a theme and a pop of color. Photo courtesy Grand Highland Hotel

The rooms are all themed and ranged in size from the small Singing Cricket Room with a bed and nightstand and décor paying homage to the local Yavapai people to the Capitol King Suite which offers a sitting parlor and full-size sleeper sofa. Some rooms overlooked Whiskey Row. No pets are allowed. No ghostly apparitions were reported!

Articles Related to Hassayampa Inn and Visiting Prescott, AZ

The Prescott Historic Hotels

My self-directed walking tour from The Hassayampa Inn to the cute boutique hotel, The Grand Highland Hotel, gave me a good sense of what the accommodations had to offer and the appreciation of Prescott history that brought both visitors and famous people to stay in the downtown area. While Prescott was once a town frequented by miners and cowboys, in 1864 Prescott became the first territorial capital of Arizona. With the arrival of the railroad line in the 1880s, Prescott was connected to other cities, and visiting or doing business at the capital became convenient. I look forward to returning and staying at one of these historic hotels, getting a sense of what Whiskey Row and Courthouse Square is like overnight, and, perhaps, encountering a ghost! To help plan your Arizona adventure, be sure and see what our southwest travel experts have written.

When visiting the historic town of Prescott, Arizona—the original Arizona Territorial capital—you’ll find three historic hotels, including the grande dame of them all—the Hassayampa Inn. Also, explore the historic Hotel St. Michael and the cute boutique Grand Highland Hotel. This historic town offers a great atmosphere, a look at the Old West history in Arizona, along with incredible food and plenty of Southwestern hospitality.

Historic Inns of Prescott, AZ

Written by Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose is back again in the Phoenix area after more than a decade living in New Mexico and Washington state. She travels throughout the West and beyond writing about destinations, accommodations, festivals, and restaurants, especially farm to table cuisine. As an expert in cultural tourism, her writing reflects that passion. She has won awards for her photography and accompanies her articles with her own images. She also provides photos for magazine covers, web sites and magazine articles (both print and online).

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1 Comment

  1. Sally Delap-John

    I loved reading this article. So much to see and do. I only saw about half of these historic hotels, but will look more the next time I’m in the area.

    Reply

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