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After a summer of poor weather in New York City, I found myself craving an extra dose of vitamin D at the start of August. So, ahead of a long weekend with friends in Palm Springs, California, I ventured west for a sun-filled solo getaway in Phoenix.
For my quick trip to the Valley of the Sun, there was one property that immediately caught my attention: the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix. Part of IHG One Rewards, my preferred hotel rewards program, Kimpton Hotels are some of my favorite properties. So, finding one in the desert with a rooftop pool was just what I wanted for some respite.
Whether you seek solo serenity like me, a central location by Phoenix’s sports venues or solid food and beverage options popular with both guests and locals, here’s what you need to know about the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix before booking a stay.
Quick take HANNAH STRECK/THE POINTS GUY
With a prime location in downtown Phoenix’s CityScape neighborhood, the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix seamlessly fits in with the vibrant atmosphere that surrounds it.
Since it opened in 2012, the property has invited relaxation in a trendy setting. The cool midcentury modern style is on display everywhere you turn, from the mahogany lamps and soft brown leather couches in the lobby — where evening happy hours and morning coffee service are available daily — to the sleek guest rooms with leather accents and rich brown hues.
Perhaps the property’s best attribute is its gorgeous rooftop pool, which has plenty of seating and a bar for poolside snacks and sips while soaking up some Arizona sun.
Getting there HANNAH STRECK/THE POINTS GUY
Since the hotel sits in the CityScape neighborhood of central Phoenix, the easiest way to reach it from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) is to drive. The approximately 4-mile drive — which takes about 15 minutes, depending on traffic — costs around $25 when using a ride-hailing service like Lyft or Uber.
For those with more energy and time, there’s the PHX Sky Train, a free electric people mover that can take you into the city. Know, though, that this option doesn’t go directly to the hotel, so a connection to the Valley Metro light rail network at 44th Street/Washington is required to complete the journey. To get to Washington/Central Ave, the closest stop to the hotel, expect to ride for about 30 minutes and spend $2.
The Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix has 242 accommodations. They range from standard rooms with queen- or king-size beds to specialty suites that have extra square footage with unique features like Japanese soaking tubs and views of the nearby sports venues.
For my three-night weekday stay in a basic 1 King Essential City View room, I spent around $946 (or roughly $315 per night), excluding taxes. An additional guest amenities fee of $30 per day plus tax also applied; it covered a few on- and off-site perks, including a $10 food and beverage credit every day for Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, admission to the Phoenix Art Museum and access to the adjacent EOS Fitness Club.
If I had decided to book with points, it would’ve cost about 53,000 points per night during my travel dates. Based on TPG’s monthly valuations, using points would’ve saved me about $20 per night. However, because I wanted to use this stay to help meet the minimum spending requirement for my new IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card’s sign-up offer, I chose to pay with cash.
For those who don’t have elite status in the IHG One Rewards program, there’s another way to enjoy elitelike perks, such as experience credits and room upgrades (when available), at the property: Reserve your stay through a credit card travel portal.
The hotel is bookable through American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts (which you can access with a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express). It is also part of the Capital One travel portal’s Lifestyle Collection (which is available to those with the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, among other options).
Rooftop pools are a must-have perk at hotels in hot climates, and the one at this Kimpton does not disappoint. It offers comfortable lounge chairs and a surprisingly relaxing setting due to minimal noise from guests.
The adjacent EOS Fitness Club went beyond what any on-site gym could’ve offered thanks to its wide array of equipment in top-notch shape and one-of-a-kind features, such as a cinema space that plays movies while you work out.
From the front desk employees to the bartenders at the rooftop pool, the staff was incredibly friendly and welcoming.
Both restaurants had impressive menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering various options to satisfy all kinds of palates.
The morning coffee cart in the lobby offers whatever you need to ease into your day, whether you like a standard cup of joe or an iced coffee with plant-based milk.
Rooms are in need of an update due to noticeable signs of wear and tear, such as peeling leather on office chairs, missing wall art and multiple dings in the bedside tables.
Accommodation prices are on the high side — even during the off-peak summer season when I visited. Rates at comparable properties like the Hyatt Regency hover around the $200 mark.
There are limited amenities; while the pool and two eateries were a highlight, there was no spa or on-site fitness center.
The vibe HANNAH STRECK/THE POINTS GUY
When walking into the hotel’s main doors, I admittedly found myself feeling a bit underwhelmed. Unlike other Kimptons I’ve stayed at, this one lacked guests milling about in the lobby. Perhaps that was due to its small size. Or, maybe it was a result of the sleek, streamlined midcentury modern design, which was missing the local touches Kimpton properties are supposed to embody.
Fortunately, that absence of guests in the lobby did not extend to other parts of the property. Guests instead prefer to gather in the living room area one floor below the main entrance. This space is where visitors can grab their morning coffees or teas, meet up at the end of the day for the nightly happy hour and check out limited-time offerings (such as the ArtLab pop-up art show the hotel hosted while I was in town).
The leisurely vibe continues by the rooftop pool, where it’s common to spot a mix of people enjoying some time in the sun. Solo travelers like myself sunbathed and splashed beside families and even WNBA players during my visit.
While the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix is a bright spot in the Valley of the Sun, the rooms are a bit dull compared to the rest of the property.
Since the hotel was booked to capacity during my three-night stay, I couldn’t grab an upgrade upon checking in as a Diamond Elite member in the IHG One Rewards program. So, I found myself unimpressed with my standard 1 King Essential City View room.
Measuring 410 square feet, the room was quaint and wasn’t really my style, as it had faux fur pillows on the couch, mismatched bedside tables and a random stuffed bird on a shelf by the TV.
Upon closer inspection, I noticed an empty hook on a wall, suggesting that there was supposed to be artwork hanging above the bed. Several pieces of furniture, including one of the bedside tables and the desk chair’s leather cover, were also worn away in multiple areas, supporting my belief that the entire space was overdue for a refresh.
Still, the bathroom was functional overall, with a large vanity mirror and plenty of counter space for all my skincare products. That said, it had its shortcomings, too. Due to the lack of a proper shower door — instead, there was a glass divider that didn’t extend far enough — the floor flooded every time I took a shower.
Food and drink HANNAH STRECK/THE POINTS GUY
For more sustenance beyond the hotel’s complimentary coffee in the mornings and wine reception every evening, there are two on-site dining venues you can visit: Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails and Eden Rooftop Bar.
The main restaurant, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, sits next to the hotel’s living room on the ground level. Offering breakfast, lunch (or brunch) and dinner daily, this eatery serves an array of delicious dishes featuring American flavors.
During my stay, I visited Blue Hound on multiple occasions for breakfast and dinner. I selected free breakfast daily as my Diamond Elite welcome amenity, so my morning meals were even more enjoyable since they were complimentary.
Options range from chilaquiles ($18) to bananas Foster french toast ($16), though the must-try breakfast item here is the blueberry pancakes ($15). They were just the right amount of fluffiness, and the blueberries were fresh.
I also dined at Blue Hound one night for dinner and found that the dinner selection was just as impressive as the breakfast menu. Opting for a lighter meal, I grabbed a seat at the restaurant’s bar and ordered a couple of smaller dishes to pair with a cocktail.
Everything I tried, including a cup of golden tomato and crab chowder ($7), a side of charred Brussels sprouts ($12) and the Clover Club cocktail made with gin, lemon and raspberry syrup ($16), was satisfying and filling.
HANNAH STRECK/THE POINTS GUY
Eager to enjoy the pool bar on a particularly pleasant day, I checked out Eden Rooftop Bar for an alfresco lunch one day as well. Right away, I was impressed with the design of the space, as it had plenty of seating options, all of which were shaded with misters to keep patrons cool while dining in the hot Arizona sun.
HANNAH STRECK/THE POINTS GUY
As for the food, Eden’s options were solid but not quite as impressive as those at Blue Hound. I enjoyed splitting the green chickpea hummus ($16) and squash flatbread ($18) with a local co-worker who joined me for lunch.
However, the yellowfin tuna crudo ($21) I ordered arrived with a hair in it. To the bar’s credit, when I pointed it out, the dish was immediately replaced with a fresh one and was taken off the final bill without being asked. Still, the experience put a damper on an otherwise decent meal.
HANNAH STRECK/THE POINTS GUY
Amenities and service HANNAH STRECK/THE POINTS GUY
What the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix lacked in room design and comforts, it certainly made up for with its service and property amenities.
Over the course of my three-night stay, the staff made a point to get to know me, regularly asking what they could do to make my stay better and offering superb suggestions for what to do while in the area. The waitstaff at Blue Hound even memorized my iced coffee order, so it was always brought with my breakfast without asking. As a solo traveler, this attention to detail made my time at the property that much more comfortable and enjoyable.
As for on-site amenities, the hotel’s biggest draw is undoubtedly its rooftop pool. In addition to being the perfect place to relax in the sun with a cocktail from the adjacent bar in hand, the pool happens to be excellent for planespotting, as the hotel sits perpendicular to the flight path for aircraft landing at the airport.
While there isn’t a gym directly on-site, all guests also receive complimentary access to EOS Fitness Club directly across from the hotel’s back entrance. Despite lacking direct access from within the property, the fitness center’s array of cardio machines and weight areas made it far more impressive than traditional hotel gyms. I was particularly fond of the dark workout room where a movie played on a big-screen TV while I exercised.
HANNAH STRECK/THE POINTS GUY
You’ll find several classic Kimpton amenities, too, including loaner bicycles, in-room yoga mats and the aforementioned nightly happy hour. You can even borrow a plant for your room through the brand’s Plant Pals Program.
Out and about HANNAH STRECK/THE POINTS GUY
The Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix’s location in central Phoenix’s CityScape neighborhood makes it a convenient option for enjoying various restaurants, shops and entertainment venues.
Within a few blocks of the property, you’ll find sports venues for professional baseball, basketball and indoor football teams, including Chase Field (home of the Arizona Diamondbacks) and Footprint Center (where the Phoenix Suns, the Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers play). As such, the hotel is teeming with sports fans (and occasionally professional athletes) during these sports seasons.
Additionally, the area is home to several top-notch restaurants and a couple of brand-name stores like Urban Outfitters and CVS. If you crave a bite to eat off-site, I highly recommend Chico Malo, a Mexican-inspired restaurant that showcases local ingredients in its dishes.
For guests with mobility issues, the hotel offers an accessible main entrance that’s wheelchair-friendly. If you’re unable to easily traverse stairs, you’ll need to use this street-level entrance since the one on the lower level at the back of the property requires using stairs to reach the check-in desk.
Four types of accessible rooms are available for booking, including standard rooms with queen or king beds and one-bedroom suites. Every accessible room except the smallest ones with queen-size beds has a bathroom retrofitted with a roll-in shower. For rooms with queen beds, the bathrooms come with shower-tub combos that have grab bars and hand-held shower heads. Accessible communication features include telephone ring signalers, bed shakers, door knock alerts and visual fire alarms.
Outside the rooms, you’ll find accessible features for the rooftop area. There’s a small wheelchair elevator when entering the rooftop and a lift for getting in and out of the pool.
Checking out HANNAH STRECK/THE POINTS GUY
Despite spending more than I had hoped for my three-night stay in Phoenix, I enjoyed my time at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix. Some areas are ready for a refresh, but the exceptional service, phenomenal downtown location and stunning rooftop pool wowed me enough to make me want to return … preferably after the rooms are renovated.