I discovered La Posada by accident while I was online doing some research on Arizona’s Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. I couldn’t find the kind of resort or hotel I was looking for at first, something that exuded a combination of luxury, nature and adventure. In a little place called Winslow Arizona along the infamous Route 66 that runs across America, La Posada finally came onto the screen and after one glance at its incredibly funky, creative and dreamy rooms, I knew I had to visit.
It’s currently owned by Allan Affeldt, however the architect behind it is Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. The property has quite a history, starting with Fred Harvey, who “civilized the west” by introducing linen, silverware, china, crystal, and impeccable service to railroad travel. He was so legendary that MGM made a movie called The Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland. Harvey developed and ran all the hotels and restaurants of the Santa Fe Railway, eventually controlling a hospitality empire that spanned the continent.
In the 1920’s, Harvey built a hotel in the center of northern Arizona and called it “La Posada” aka the Resting Place, which was slated to be the finest hotel in the Southwest. Construction costs alone exceeded $1 million in 1929 and its doors opened on 1930 until 1957 when it closed down. Much of the building was gutted and transformed into offices for the Santa Fe Railway until Allan Affeldt purchased it after learning that the property was in danger.
Although none of the partners is a hotelier by training, they have accomplished what once seemed impossible—transforming a forgotten but magical place into a living museum. Allan oversees the overall rehabilitation—design, architecture, financing, and planning and Tina, a renowned artist, paints in her studio upstairs and her art is now an integral part of La Posada experience.
All the rooms at the hotel are uniquely decorated and named after famous people, so you can ask to stay in the Shirley Temple room for example. Other such names on the list include Will Rogers, Jackie Gleason, Clark Cable, Gary Cooper, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Jimmy Dolittle, Jane Russell, Jimmy Stewart and Frank Sinatra.
Deluxe rooms are slightly more spacious and the room names included in those lucky 12 are Tom Ford, Diane Keaton, Harry Truman, Albert Einstein and Howard Hughes. (pictured below and the room we stayed in during our stay). Apparently, the Howard Hughes Room (#225) is always in high demand. This was the sitting room of a deluxe suite with a Lindbergh bedroom and Hughes was a frequent guest (Winslow was a TWA stop and he owned the airline).
The Harry Truman Room
The Affeldt Mion Room
Many rooms feature handmade Ponderosa pine beds designed by master carpenter Keith Mion. Handwoven Zapotec rugs and Mexican tin and Talavera tile mirrors adorn the walls. A number of rooms feature original 1930 B&W mosaic tile bathrooms complete with 6-foot cast-iron tubs while other rooms feature new custom Talavera tile bathrooms with whirlpool tubs and hand-painted tile murals. There are views into the Sunken Garden, into the Cottonwood Grove, across the South Lawn to the Santa Fe railroad, into the Potager Garden, and across the north gardens to Route 66.
The place is so unique that you find yourself walking around in awe most of the time, looking at detail after detail, painting after painting…..the gift shop on the main floor is also loaded with creative artisan work, jewelry, boxes, pottery and more. They even have kitchen ornaments, hand crafted brightly painted wood crosses, and more.
Below, the hallways leading up to the rooms.
A sitting area on the second floor.
The Turquoise Room is a fine, but artsy Southwestern influenced restaurant with a ton of game options on the menu and is connected to La Posada. We had dinner and breakfast there before we left for the next leg of our journey — highly recommended even if you don’t stay at the hotel. Our only regret is not giving it enough time. Be sure to read my write-up on the restaurant, which includes lots of photos bound to make you hungry.
To entice you to read the article, check out this ever so scrumptious Farm raised New Zealand Elk loin medallion dish, served in a Cassis and brandy blackcurrant sauce. It was prepared in a wild mushroom and roasted corn flan, and served with steamed sugar snap peas. Let’s not forget the fresh organic vegetables and the twig of Rosemary on top! They paired this with a Coppola Director’s Cut Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley. Yum!!!
OKAY, so one more tease from The Turquoise Room – how’s this double chocolate grand marnier souffle as a choice to end a long day? It is baked with grand marnier and then tossed with powdered sugar and fresh mint. They then pour dark chocolate syrup on top and if you want it — house-made whipped cream.
The Posada Gardens
Mary Colter’s original 1930 design for La Posada included plans not only for the hotel building but also for 12 acres of gardens based on sustainable desert plant communities. Unfortunately, these plans were never implemented because the Santa Fe Railway faced major budgetary constraints in the years following the Great Depression. By the 1980s, La Posada’s gardens had fallen into total disrepair.
They restored the gardens at La Posada in 1997 including the Sunken Garden and the Rose and Potager Gardens are thriving on the north side. The Cottonwood Grove has been stabilized and new trees have been planted. The South Lawns are healthy and new walkways and a straw bale maze has been added.
There’s also a walking tour that starts at La Posada’s Route 66 entrance and winds through the hotel in a somewhat random fashion. On the way, you can marvel at the paintings and tip your hat off to the beautiful La Posada Madonna by Verne and Christy Lucero, which is considered to be one of the finest pieces of contemporary New Mexican tinwork in the world.
The Sculpture Gallery connects the lobby to the west wing and overlooks the Sunken Garden to the north. Gas torches illuminate the south wall and rough Spanish benches are along the edge, covering the steam radiators. The Sculpture Gallery was designed as an orangerie — a warm, well lit refuge for fragrant citrus trees which would be moved indoors in big pots for the winter, then back to the patio for the spring.
There’s a ballroom, reading room and massive sitting rooms throughout, all curated with unique art and floral murals by Santa Fe artist Earl Altaire.
We LOVE this hotel and would definitely return – — the service, the art, the creativity, the uniquely artistic and cozy rooms, and the countless other nooks and crannies loaded with history and eye candy, will have you at the edge of your seat for your entire stay. Two thumbs up!!
La Posada Hotel
303 E 2nd Street
Winslow, AZ 86047
Note: we were hosted by the hotel but all opinions expressed are entirely our own.