I love hotel bars. For me, they’re a throwback to a more sophisticated era, when people behaved like ladies and gentlemen at a bar, dressed for a night out and ordered real cocktails, not a cheap beer on tap. They also serve as an interesting crossroads for travelers and locals, a meeting spot where business deals are made and strangers share stories about their hometowns. Even the not-so-fanciest of hotel watering holes lend themselves to this civilized camaraderie. I’m happy to report Scottsdale has lots of great hotel bar options; its resorts are in class of their own. Residents treat these stylish lounges as go-to spots for a special night out. The following bars all meet two important criteria: first-rate cocktails and only-in-Scottsdale ambience. (And a bit of live music isn’t uncommon.) They also provide fantastic outdoor spaces to enjoy a happy hour sunset or starlit sky.
Jade Bar at Sanctuary Camelback Resort
This sleek, mod lounge got even better with a big makeover last year, though it’s hard to improve upon the star attraction: the mountainside views of Paradise Valley. Ebony and onyx architectural details create a chic atmosphere, and the thoughtfully crafted cocktails, like the Grapefruit Basil, are killer. Ask for the secret menu.
ZuZu Lounge at the Hotel Valley Ho
Classic midcentury modern architecture and a hip décor have made ZuZu a popular spot for post-work happy hours and early evening cocktails, when the floor-to-ceiling windows bathe the lounge in natural light. It’s one of those rare resort bars that has just as many locals as hotel guests enjoying the scene.
Onyx Bar & Lounge at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
Tucked in the foothills of Pinnacle Peak in North Scottsdale, the Four Seasons offers one of those only-in-Arizona views that is best complemented by a barrel-aged tequila or prickly-pear margarita. Grab a seat on the terrace and have a second as the sunsets on the Sonoran Desert.
The Mix Up Bar at the Royal Palms
Too often, hotel bars try to be too big. Too themed. Too much. Mix Up feels you’re having a drink in the living room of your very wealthy friend’s hacienda. Dark woods, boldly colored accents and “garden-to-glass” cocktails that are appropriate for mature adults make it one of my favorite spots.
The Plaza Bar at the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess
Fortunately, not much has changed since Rande Gerber’s former Stone Rose Lounge was rechristened last year. The stylish outdoor bar rises like a modernist temple from the central courtyard of the Spanish colonial Princess resort. If the weather is cool, order a whiskey or jalapeño margarita, and grab a seat by one of the cozy fire pits.