Sunday, August 17, 2014

Checking-In: Hotel Congress

The finest sight that any carload of road-weary travelers can see is that of a crackling neon sign standing sentinel atop an historic landmark hotel, beckoning them in for a night of much-needed slumber.

wacky tacky hotel congress
A glowing sight for sore eyes in Tucson, AZ

"Congress" is perhaps an all-too-accurate name for a place that over the past 95 years has undoubtedly housed so many "acts of congress" within its walls that it should soon be putting a bid in for President (zing!!!).  Actually, the name of Tucson, Arizona's most famous hotel, Hotel Congress (est. 1919) comes from the tree-lined street on which it proudly stands (incidentally, Congress St took its name from a 19th-Century Saloon).

Hotel Congress - Tucson, AZ

Primarily known as the last hideout of John Dillinger's gang (a January 1934 fire, started in the hotel basement, exposed the thugs and eventually led to the capture of their leader at a nearby residence), the hotel continues to host "Dillinger Days," on the third weekend in January.  Since then, hotel guests have been of either a more upstanding or a more otherworldly variety.  Yep, as with most hotels of a certain age, rumors abound that some guests of Hotel Congress check in but they never check out; we were so tired that the only thing that we saw during the night of our stay was the inside of our eyelids.

They must have known that a terrazzo entry is always a winner
in the book of wacky tacky!  That's kind of spooky, right?

The facade of Hotel Congress is stately, if a little unassuming but...

Once the threshold is crossed, one is
treated to a Southwestern step back in time.

Decorated in the Puebo Deco style (a combination of traditional Art Deco geometry and iconic Southwestern motifs), the common areas of Hotel Congress are a wacky tacky wonderland.  A mix of pattern, color, and shape, the near visual overload is grounded by rich woods and Spanish Colonial furniture.

The lobby, the landings, and the hallways are all decked out in Pueblo Deco finery.
Southwest design schemes tend to walk a very fine line; when it turns into that
flute-playing silhouette and those giant, metal lizards above the fireplace, I'm out. 

Hotel Congress falls decidedly on the SAFE side of that style divide!

Spare by contemporary hotel standards, the guest rooms are actually a treat for full-immersion vintage lovers looking to escape the modern world.  I was shocked to enter a room devoid of a television; and yet the absence of televisions and other modern amenities truly enriched both the overall experience and my sleep!

Black and white tiles and a pedestal sink make the bathroom feel perfectly old-timey.
Simple iron beds made up with white chenille bedspreads, modest furnishings,
and patterned, flat-weave carpets, made the whole experience period perfect!

The third-story sun deck, with its scenic mural of a stunning Southwest vista, looks
incredible and incredibly eerie bathed in the blood-red glow of the hotel's rooftop sign. 

If you find yourself in Tucson, AZ without a place to stay, why not hide out like an all-American hoodlum or haunt like an all-American ghost, and check-in to Hotel Congress.

Hotel Congress
311 E Congress St
Tucson, AZ


Mr. Tiny


  1. oh it's gorgeous! i would love to stay there!

    1. If you're ever in Tucson, you should. It's great!!!