Hotel San Carlos

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Discover the Hotel San Carlos, whose blend of modern amenities and classical charm has drawn celebrities and Southwest travelers alike for over a century.

Hotel San Carlos was constructed during the “Roaring Twenties,” in which flappers, the radio, and the Art Deco movement defined the age.

A small, one room adobe school house was built in 1874 upon the lands of where Native Americans were reported to have worshipped the God of Learning. In 1879, a larger two-story brick building with four rooms and a bell tower was built. In 1893, the school expanded again and this time, there were sixteen rooms and this building served the children of Phoenix for the next 25 years.

The schoolhouse became condemned after it was outgrown in 1916. City officials cleared the area for the development of a luxury hotel. 1927 finally saw the plans come to fruition when Charles Harris purchased the hotel site and began construction. The plans were designed by nationally known architects G. Witecross Ritchie of Los Angeles. The total cost of the hotel was $850,000.

The Italian Renaissance style building formally opened on March 20, 1928 as the most modern hotel in the entire Southwest United States. It was the first air-conditioned, high-rise hotel in Phoenix and the first high rise with hand-operated elevators in the state. During the mid-twentieth century, the hotel continued to be a hub for the Phoenix elite, political, social, as well as a destination for Hollywood stars. Mae West, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Harry James, and Kay Starr all spent time at the Hotel San Carlos.

In 1974, it was recognized as a State Historic landmark and its been in continuous operation since its opening. In 2003, Hotel San Carlos underwent a multi-million dollar renovation that modernized its amenities, but preserved its historic fabric.

  • About the Architecture +

    G. Witecross Ritchie of Los Angeles designed the hotel in the Italian Renaissance style. The entrances are decorated with vertical-ribbed terracotta tiles. Above the entryway, at the 2nd and 3rd floor levels, are neo-classical column ornamentations, with shaft and capitol. Textured concrete, scored to simulate stone masonry, is used on the first floor level. On the 4th floor level, a projecting balcony with lintels resting on corbel is seen. Lintels also project on both manor facades along the bottom of the 2nd story level. The lintels recur over the tops of the 2nd story windows, and are more richly decorated with scrolls and relief carvings. Above the 7th floor is a penthouse, of original construction. Charles Harris, the original owner and General Manager, resided in the penthouse with his family.


  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Some of the names of famous guests featured on the "Star Walk" - created to commemorate the hotel's 65th birthday - include Clark Gable, who stayed in Room 412. Marilyn Monroe frequented room 326, near the pool. Betty Grable and Mae West also frequented the hotel.


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