Phoenix is Arizona’s beating heart. It’s the state capital and largest city. It’s also the easiest destination to get to directly from the UK, making it the perfect place to start a road trip of Arizona or the southwestern US.
More than that, Phoenix is a vibrant, progressive and oh-so-sunny city. When you’re there – and you will visit the city, trust me – the FOUND:RE hotel should be at the top of your list of places to stay.
This is where the FOUND:RE comes into its own. The rooms themselves are the epitome of industrial chic, but without having the excessively spartan aesthetic that can leave some industrial hotels feeling like the interior designers binged-watched Bad Girls before setting to work.
The room I stayed in was blessed with an almost unreasonably comfortable bed. It was probably about as wide as the entire row I sat in on the flight over. The blessings didn’t stop there: a glorious, pummeling sit-down shower effortlessly wiped clean the desert heat from my body.
Outside of the rooms, the hotel is an art gallery. The walls are covered in pieces by local artists, all chosen by Mike Oleskow, FOUND:RE’s curator-in-residence. The diversity of pieces on display means that there’s something to please every palette, and they’re all for sale too.
While baggage allowances probably rule out buying some of the larger pieces, you could easily come home with a little piece of the hotel.
Divine. Delicious. Mouthwatering. Stupendous. These are just a few of the words I’d use to describe the breakfast offerings available at the FOUND:RE’s restaurant, Match. On consecutive mornings, I tried both the French toast and the pancakes and, after both, found myself feeling both incredibly full (portion control is not a thing in the US) and yet very tempted to order seconds (I am exceptionally greedy).
My companion’s huevos rancheros – which I may’ve tried – was also superb.
Service and amenities 3/5
Food aside, the hotel’s other glory is the outdoor pool; a fabulous, un-overlooked sun-trap, and just the place to while away an afternoon. If holiday exercise is your thing (and I have to confess it’s not mine – I like eating and lying down) there’s also a gym to burn off some of the calories acquired at breakfast.
There’s also valet parking, which is essential: you can’t do this part of the States without a car. Top tip though – there’s a safe, quiet street next door to the hotel where you can park for free – leaving you extra dollars to spend on pancakes.
I’m not convinced there is a perfect location in Phoenix. Like so many US cities, it’s vast, and there are things to be explored across it. That being said, the FOUND:RE is in an excellent location. It’s in the center of downtown, slap-bang in the heart of the Roosevelt Row Arts District; a very walkable area of galleries, shops and restaurants, including the Phoenix Art Museum and the cute Phoenix Public Market Café.
You’ll need a car to access some of the jewels in the city’s crown, including the Desert Botanical Garden and the magnificent Barrio Café. But neither of these are more than 40 minutes’ drive on Phoenix’s easy-to-navigate, reasonably traffic-free highways. If shopping’s your thing, Fashion Square in neighboring Scottsdale, about 30 minutes’ drive away, is a must.
LGBTI life 5/5
Right outside the FOUND:RE is a rainbow crosswalk, in case you were wondering whether you’re safe in Phoenix. And right opposite is Fez, a classy, contemporary, gay-run restaurant.
I’ll admit that, due to jet-lag and packed-out days, that’s about as much as I managed to explore of Phoenix’s LGBTI scene. But, should you want to, there’s a veritable cornucopia of bars, restaurants and other safe spaces to explore. There isn’t a single gay village, so venues are dotted across the city but, as before, nothing’s more than 30 minutes or so in the car. If everyone in your party fancies a tipple, taxis are so much cheaper than they are in the UK. (My tip: download Lyft before you go.)
A standard suite at the FOUND:RE starts at $149 per night, based on two people sharing. Guests have complimentary access to the pool. Find out more and book your stay here.