La Posada Winslow AZ is one of the most historic (and luxurious) hotels along Route 66 in Arizona. We stayed at this unforgettable spot during a recent road trip across Arizona and were not disappointed. It’s definitely worth a stop! Below we tell you what you need to know about staying at La Posada.
For many visitors, Winslow, Arizona is most famous for Standing on the Corner Park, based on the lyrics from the Eagles’ song, “Take it Easy.” (And, yes, of course there’s a Flatbed Ford!) But equally worth the visit–and even more historic–is La Posada Winslow, a luxury hotel that recalls the grand era of train travel.
Today, La Posada Winslow is one of the few remaining Harvey Houses that is still a working hotel. It has been lovingly restored to its original glory. The hotel and grounds were declared a National Historic District in 1992. If you’re taking a road trip along route 66 in Arizona, a stay at La Posada adds a bit of luxury to your journey.
History of La Posada Winslow
The Early Years: Grand Hotel along the Railway
La Posada in Winslow first opened in 1930 along the main rail line passing through Arizona. Renowned hotelier and restaurateur Fred Harvey built the luxury property to attract wealthy travelers who were eager to explore the wonders of the southwest. Winslow became a popular stopping off point, with destinations such as the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Monument Valley all of which within a day’s drive of the hotel.
In the 1920s, renowned hotelier and restaurateur Fred Harvey decided to build a major hotel in the center of northern Arizona. “La Posada”—the Resting Place—was to be the finest in the Southwest. He chose Winslow, Arizona because at it was (and still is) the Arizona headquarters for the Santa Fe Railway. To ensure the hotel was representative of the region and its unique history and culture, Harvey asked architect Mary Colter to design the property. Colter was famous for designing several structures at the Grand Canyon. No expense was spared; it was rumored that the total budget was approximately $2 million (which would cost about $35 million today).
The “Railroad Headquarters” Years
La Posada Winslow was originally open for 27 years–from 1930 until 1957. It opened about 6 months after the stock market crash of 1929, yet still enjoyed a brisk business in the 1930s and 40s. But by the late 1950s, rail travel was no longer considered the glamourous way to travel, and business at the hotel dropped off. After closing in 1957, the property was converted into the local headquarters of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. (Known also as “ATSF” or sometimes just “the Santa Fe.”
During the “railroad offices” phase, La Posada lost much of its original character. Museum-quality furnishings were auctioned off and much of the interior was converted into office space. In 1994, the railroad announced it would no longer occupy to property, which left the La Posada Winslow building vacant and in danger of demolition.
Grand Hotel Along the Railway-Again!
Threat of demolition roused local citizens, who began a campaign to raise awareness of the plight of La Posada. Eventually, the property came to the attention of Allan Affeldt and his wife Tina Mion, who purchased the property in 1997 with the intent to restore La Posada Winslow to its former glory.
Affeldt and Mion began renovating the building and opened five rooms for paying guests in late 1997. Gradually they opened the restaurant and bar, restored stunning public areas, and continued to open more guest rooms as they were renovated. Finally, work began on the many gardens surrounding the hotel, designed to mirror architect Mary Colter’s vision.
Today, La Posada Winslow is fully restored and a magnificent property. The hotel boasts 55 guest rooms along with a bar and restaurant, an art gallery, book store and trading post selling authentic artwork and handcrafts from local artisans, along with nearly 20 acres of unique gardens. It is arguably the most luxurious hotel along Route 66.
And there’s even a train station!
La Posada Winslow: A Train Station?
La Posada in Winslow has the unique distinction of being the only hotel in America that has its own Amtrak stop. The Winslow depot was originally part of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF), commonly known as the “Santa Fe,” in 1929-1930. Today, the stop is part of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief train, which travels between Chicago and Los Angeles.
Passengers can disembark at Winslow (station designated “WLO”), pass through an elegant iron gate and stroll right up the walkway into the hotel lobby. And while waiting to board the train (which comes twice a day), passengers wait either in the lobby or on a very nice patio covered by a shady pergola (or, “ramada,” as they call them in the southwest) right along the tracks.
Train Geek Alert: I know, I know, there are plenty of other train station hotels, such as the Union Station Hotel in St. Louis or Lackawanna Station in Scranton, PA. But hear me out–there IS a difference. These hotels are grand old stations that were converted into hotels as a historic preservation effort to prevent them from being torn down. La Posada Winslow was purpose-built as a hotel, with the train depot as part of it. And, since there is no train station nearby, it serves as the location for the stop.
*It’s important to note that while the train depot is located on the hotel property, the hotel is not right on the tracks. Only the waiting area is trackside; the rest of the hotel is set back 80 to 100 feet from the platform area by a walled lawn. Additionally, Winslow is a “quiet zone,” with no at-grade crossings, so there are no loud train horns blaring. Further, guest rooms are situated perpendicular to the tracks, facing one of the gardens. We were shocked (and delighted) to discover that train noise was not an issue when staying at La Posada Winslow.
Staying at La Posada Winslow-Our Experience
We had visited La Posada Winslow a few times during drives along Route 66 in Arizona. We always found it a pleasant place to stop–it seemed an oasis of lush tranquility in the midst of the desert. Just one block from the famous Standing on the Corner Winslow Arizona park, the hotel harkens back to a time that predates rock n’ roll, and even the midcentury glory days of Route 66. To step onto the grounds of La Posada takes you back to the grand old days of travel, when visitors brought steamer trunks and wrote letters home on hotel stationery.
You know you’re in for something special as you approach the front door. After passing beneath the wrought iron archway with a rustic “La Posada” sign suspended beneath it, you pass between some of the beautiful gardens on the way to the front door. Along the way you cross a water feature with soothing trickling fountains–a thirst-quenching sound in this otherwise desert landscape.
The entry door further suggests a destination suited toward enjoyment and quiet reflection. The rustic wood, which is stained a duck-egg blue bear bronze plaques stating “Enter in Silence” and “Depart in Peace.”
Rooms at La Posada Winslow
La Posada has 55 rooms, which range in size from 220 to 450 square feet. Rooms are decorated with handmade Ponderosa pine beds, along with handwoven rugs and Mexican tin and Talavera tile mirrors. In a nice “old-world” touch, nightstands are stocked with hardcover books.
Each room is named after a famous guest who has stayed at the hotel. We stayed in the “Victor Mature” room, named after the dreamboat actor from the 1940s and 50s. One of his most famous roles was as the hunky Sampson in the movie Sampson and Delilah. So naturally my husband was convinced the woman at the front desk took one look at him and immediately thought “I know just which room you should have!” (Can you imagine the blow to his ego if we had gotten the “Shirley Temple” room?!)
Our room had a comfortable king-sized bed, with 100% cotton sheets (YAY!), along with woolen blankets for those chilly nights. The bathroom featured the original 1930 black and white mosaic tile, with a pedestal sink and cast-iron tub. The room was on the second floor and overlooked the Sunken Garden with its trickling lion’s head fountain.
Rooms fall into three categories and are priced accordingly:
- Standard: With either a king or two double beds
- Upgraded: (King beds only)Similar to Standard, along with either a balcony or patio
- Deluxe: (King beds only) Slightly larger rooms with seating area, plus a whirlpool tub in the bath
Our room fell into the “Standard” category and was plenty big enough. All rooms face one of the gardens (and none overlook the train tracks, which is great for keeping things quieter.) We had a view over the Sunken Garden, which was extremely quiet at night. We did not hear any train noise (and we are PICKY about that!).
Book your stay at La Posada here!
Public Spaces at La Posada Winslow
The public spaces are part of what really make La Posada special. Typical of many early 20th-century hotels, when life moved at a slower pace, there are lots of nooks and crannies for relaxing, chatting, or just curling up with a good book.
The gardens are really something special, and each area of the hotel has something unique. Many have a fountain somewhere; the trickling sounds of water are soothing in the high desert landscape. The Sunken Garden (which our room overlooked) has conversational areas near the burbling lions’ head fountain while the Grotto Garden, which is a full floor below street level, is cooling on hot summer days (and has a friendly donkey statue watching over it!). In the fall, the South Lawn sports a straw bale maze, the patio out front overlooks the Four Sisters garden, which features local plants.
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