I have had the pleasure of staying in many historical hotels & inns, including European castles. Considering their antiquity, travelers have to decide if the experience of living temporarily in a relic is worth doing without certain modern amenities and putting up with a few quirks & inconveniences.
To get the most out of such an experience, we do well to become familiar with the history of these old buildings. Once you understand the history of the place, your imagination is free to take you on a journey back in time. Few Old West establishments have more history than the Bisbee Grand Hotel in the heart of Old Bisbee.
Like almost all historic hotels & inns, the old wood floors of the Bisbee Grand squeak & groan under the weight of ever footstep. We can choose to find this annoying, or part of its aging charm.
Rooms & Suites & Rates
The Bisbee Grand has seven guestrooms & six suites ranging in price from about $100 to $175 per night including “breakfast” and tax.Read More
Location: Central + A Convenient Saloon
The location of the Grand is seemingly hard to beat. It’s right on Main Street, within easy walking distance to most of the old city, including its best restaurant, Café Roka.
Even better, the hotel has its own saloon on the ground floor where locals and guests mingle freely. They do serve some food there too…not at the actual bar, but in the adjacent dining room/piano parlor/pool hall. While I did sample a beer or two (Old Monkey Shine from our local Nimbus Brewery in Tucson), I didn’t dine here. So, can’t comment.
The bar and back bar are old, perhaps as old as the hotel saloon. The bartender explained that though they aren’t original to this saloon, they were brought here from an old saloon in Tombstone. I had a beer with one of the painters who were there to paint some rooms upstairs and portions of the old bar. Good. It needed professional refinishing and a couple of coats of high-quality paint.
Restoration & Upgrades
The Grand was built in 1906, restored in Old West Victorian style around 1986, and has seen numerous upgrades since, such as air conditioning in 2008.
Plumbing, Electrical, & WiFi
One typically problematic aspect of old hotels & inns is the antiquated plumbing and electrical. Things just don’t work like we moderns expect them to. Unfortunately, it costs a fortune to upgrade such infrastructure. And when one considers the added cost of upgrading the roof, carpets, windows & doors, it’s easy to see that owning an old hotel like the Grand is a vast, bottomless money pit.
My suite, the Hollywood Western on the main floor next to the hotel’s saloon, had a large, Jacuzzi bathtub. It also had a modern low-flow toilet. (Let’s hear it for the Grand’s sense of ecological responsibility!)
The electrical worked fine, as did the Hotel’s high-speed WiFi (Just don’t forget the password is in ALL CAPS). And the staff was quick to fulfill my request for a chair and small desk so I could work on my laptop. Why these suites don’t come automatically with a chair and desk was not explained.
The Grand has some period furnishings, but the rooms are mainly of a quirky nature. Each has a theme. For instance, the suites each have their own distinctive name & are decorated accordingly: The Oriental; The Captain’s; The Hacienda; The Garden; The Western; & The Hollywood.
In addition to a large, high-off-the-floor wood-framed bed, my suite also had a lot of wood-framed posters on the walls of my childhood cowboy movie & TV heroes. There they were: Hoppy and the Lone Ranger. Gene Autry & Roy Rogers. And I had almost forgotten them…Lash LaRue and Rex Allen. Boy… the memories.
And, can you believe, in the second bedroom of my Hollywood Western suite was another bed, this one ingeniously integrated into a covered wagon. A covered wagon…right there in the second bedroom! That’s right, folks. Doesn’t get better than that.
The suites are spacious compared to the regular rooms, and the high ceilings give each space an even larger feeling. There were ceiling fans in just about every room. In my case, much appreciated.
The Grand, like so many places in this old town, is said to be haunted. Methinks, this may be a marketing ploy to jack up room rates. In my experience, one must first believe in the possibility of ghosts before one can actually see them. I have stayed in several of Bisbee’s “most haunted” and have yet to experience even a bump in the night.
A Few Little Issues
Now, for those little “problematic” issues I mentioned.
At least in my suite, quaint as it was, there was no microwave oven or hairdryer. Why? I have no idea.
Nor was my suite furnished with a few tea bags. Coffee and a coffee maker to be sure. But not tea. What’s with that? Fortunately, I had brought several bags of Earl Grey with me. But I had to use the coffee maker to heat my tea water. This isn’t a big problem, except that doing it this way results in the first couple of cups of tea having the unmistakable tinge of stale coffee.
There was no refrigerator in my suite, nor an ice machine nearby. I had to go outside and walk ALL THE WAY OVER to the saloon to get a bucket of ice. This was not a huge inconvenience since the saloon was only a few paces from the front door of my suite. But, if the saloon had been closed, I would have been “…. outa-luck”.
Breakfast, such as it was, included not-so-fresh coffee cakes & various stale Danish pastries. Coffee, yes. Tea, no. In fairness, the fruit … cantaloupe & watermelon … was fresh.
It was a “serve yourself” breakfast on cheap plates, with cheap flatware, and orange juice from a can, rather than fresh-squeezed.
No freshly made eggs of any style. No freshly fried, crisp bacon. No fresh-baked, hot-from-the-oven, croissants. Just something in a vat that may have been a combination of chopped potatoes and sausage bits. In other words, it was a cheap, minimalist breakfast.
This was not exactly Joy Timber’s Calumet & Arizona Guest House in Bisbee’s Warren District (see our video). If you stay there, you will get a delicious breakfast, made to order.
Here’s my recommendation if you stay at the Grand. Even though the “breakfast” is included in the nightly rate, walk down the street to the Bisbee Coffee Company, a Starbucks by another name.
Remember I said that the location was right on Main Street, within convenient walking distance to nearly all of the historic sights. Like most things in life, this benefit involves a few trade-offs. Two incidents come to mind.
First, while fumbling for my room key, right there on the sidewalk of Main Street in Old Bisbee, I had the most interesting conversation (mercifully short) with two meth addicts. Seems they were a little short on cash and wondered if I could spare a dime.
Well, of course. As luck would have it, I am one of the most fortunate individuals on the planet. Who am I to deny the less fortunate?
The second incident occurred the following morning when I was awakened to the dulcet tones of a City garbage truck picking up trash a few feet from my street-side room. Lovely!
As to the proximity of the saloon, it was convenient for me. But I can imagine if I had taken a room above the saloon on a Friday or Saturday night when a band plays there, it might have been a bit too noisy to sleep. I mention this because I have heard this complaint from others.
From what I could see, the Grand needs a thorough cleaning. A fresh coat of paint wouldn’t hurt. And the high-traffic areas of carpeting are so old they probably can’t be cleaned anymore. Dingy.
Thankfully, my room had A/C as it was hot and muggy (late July 2012). But the machine produced prodigious quantities of condensation and soon water was dripping down one wall and onto furniture, forming a large puddle of water on the old wood floor.
I used all my available towels to try to sop up the mess. Joe, the manager-on-duty, came to see the trouble and said, “Ya, we’ve tried to have that fixed. For now, it’s just the way it is.”
Back to the plumbing fixtures. My suite had a large, totally out-of-historical-place Jacuzzi bathtub, which I would never use since it is not located on a balcony overlooking the old city. In fact, it’s located in a bathroom with no windows or view of anything.
What I want in accommodations is mainly two things: a comfortable bed and a good shower.
By “good” bed, I mean a bed in which I can sleep peacefully through the night and not wake up with a back and neck ache that renders me incapacitated for the next 24 hours. Don’t know about the other beds at the Grand, but I definitely do not recommend the one in the Hollywood Western suite.
By “good” bed, I mean one like the one I slept on two weeks earlier at the Eldorado Suites Hotel overlooking Brewery Gulch. Not only exceedingly comfortable, but the linens were first-rate. Can’t say that about the Grand.
By “good” shower, I’m talking lots of water pressure & volume with water temperature that can easily be regulated to my liking. In Bisbee, my shower standard is Suite #1 at the Eldorado Suites Hotel. Best shower in Southern Arizona as far as I know.
In my shower at the Grand, the water temperature vacillated uncontrollably between frigid and scolding. Let’s just say it made for a very quick shower. To add insult to injury, the shower was a cheap fiberglass mold, hardly in keeping with my historical expectations. Altogether, not a good shower experience.
Oh, and did I mention that the suites at Bisbee Grand Hotel do NOT include a kitchen. If you want a spacious, modern, comfortable, as well as historical suite in Old Bisbee, with full modern kitchen, then once again I recommend the Eldorado (Click here to see our review).
I expected a good experience at the Bisbee Grand since TripAdvisor.com rated it the same as the Eldorado … 4.5 out of 5. This is just a reminder to me that reviews on such international websites as TripAdvisor, Yelp and others can be wildly misleading.