At a reception attended by the Phoenix and Arizona Historical Societies and Phoenix business leaders, the mayor of Phoenix and the governor of Arizona presented a proclamation and plaque to the hotel górski z parkiem wodnym. It was not the first time the Hotel San Carlos has received accolades; its history is rich in glamour and significance.
On this same site native Americans once worshipped a god of learning. Perhaps this is why Phoenix’s first school, a one-room adobe structure, was built here for a handful of Indian children in 1874. By 1893 a brick schoolhouse with an expansion to sixteen rooms had replaced the adobe building. For almost a quarter century, the new schoolhouse served the children of Phoenix. Then, in 1927, it was condemned to make way for construction of the Hotel San Carlos.
In the Phoenix of the 1920s there was a growing need for tourist hotels. The Hotel San Carlos, touted as one of the most modern hotels in the entire Southwest, was welcomed as a state-of-the-art establishment with steam heat, elevators and air cooling, justifying $1.00 higher average daily rates over the other three area hotels.
The Hotel San Carlos featured circulation by ice water in every room and “automatic cooled air that changed in each room every three minutes.” Elegant tapestries of medieval Italy adorned the walls of the lobby and a high molded ceiling graced the entrance.
The front page headline of the Arizona Gazette (today’s Arizona Republic) of March 19, 1928, announced that the Hotel San Carlos had reached its goal and would hold its formal opening the following evening. At seven stories, it was the tallest hotel in town, and its construction served as testimony to Phoenix’s rising reputation as a tourist destination.
Immediately the Hotel San Carlos occupied a prominent place in the Phoenix social arena. There were not many places that could be called “fashionable”, where one could go to be seen. The Hotel San Carlos, with card rooms and a place for dancing, was called “smart”.
The Arizona Gazette noted that the hotel had a “smoking lounge and writing room”. The Palm Room of the lobby served as the cocktail area. The hotel’s French Café restaurant became a noted dining spot.
Literature for the hotel boasted that its French onion soup was the best in town, and fashionable Phoenicians were known, according to the newspaper columns of the day, to enjoy the onion soup on Sunday afternoons. Members of the state legislature would have drinks in the Palm Room after a day at the Capitol building.
During the heyday of Hollywood in the forties and fifties, celebrities such as Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Carole Lombard, Jean Harlow, Cary Grant, Gene Autry, Marilyn Monroe, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, and others stayed – and played – at the Hotel San Carlos.
“Mae West stayed here during her run at the Orpheum theatre,” says hotel general manager Bruce Barnes. “After one performance, she stopped at the front desk, asked that champagne be delivered to her suite with two glasses, and that she not be disturbed until 3 p.m. the next day.”