Hotel San Carlos
The construction of the Hotel San Carlos was completed in 1927. The historic hotel was touted as one of the most modern hotels in the Southwest; it was the first high-rise, fully air-conditioned, luxuriously appointed and elevatored hotel of that day. The hotel was a major gathering place for Phoenix’s elite in the late 1920s through the 1940s.
Constructed by nationally known architects in an Italian Renaissance design, the San Carlos had luxurious appointments throughout its seven stories, featuring circulating ice water in every room and “automatic cooled air that changed in each room every three minutes.” The lobby was quite elegant with tapestries of medieval Italy hanging on the walls and high molded ceilings that graced the hotel entrance. Adjoining the lobby was the Palm Room Restaurant, outdoor sun room, dancing, card rooms, and a coffee shop on the main floor (now the Silver Spoon Cafe.)
The San Carlos was, and remains, a major Phoenix attraction. Celebrities such as Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Carole Lombard, Del Webb and others spent time here over the years. Mae West stayed in the hotel during her run at the Orpheum Theatre. After one performance, she stopped by the front desk, demanded that she not be disturbed until 3:00 p.m. the next day and asked that champagne be delivered to her suite—with two glasses.
Today, the Hotel San Carlos retains its original fabric and elements. The lobby contains the original ornate wall detail, paneling and recessed ceiling coffers, as well as the original Austrian crystal chandeliers, sconces, and mirrors. One of the two original attendant-operated elevator cars still functions on its original manual controllers. Both cars are faced with the original copper-clad doors. Upstairs, corridors, suites and even bathrooms contain the original layout, electrical and plumbing fixtures, including ice water spigots, as well as decorative panel doors and molding. Most of the original woodwork and trim is intact as well.