Photo courtesy Rise Uptown Hotel

This Hip Phoenix Hotel Showcases the City's Rising Uptown Neighborhood

Phoenix Epic Stays
by Tim Wenger Jun 10, 2024

Rise Uptown Hotel is a cool place to be in a neighborhood that’s on its way up. It’s the type of hotel that guests – and even locals – actually want to hang out at. The hotel occupies two recently remodeled buildings 20 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The property is a three-level bastion of mid-mod sublimity, part Palm Springs pool bar and part 1960s Hollywood, a vibe that encapsulates the rise of its area as the new “place to be” in Phoenix. A row of perfectly manicured palms shade the patios of garden- and second-level rooms. I arrived from the airport in a Waymo autonomous car, and stepping out of the most modern of technologies into the hotel’s throwback vibe had me feeling like Brad Pitt in “Once Upon A Time . . . in Hollywood.” Not a bad way to kick off a work trip.

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What the rooms are like at Rise Uptown Hotel

Photo: Tim Wenger
Photo: Tim Wenger
Photo: Tim Wenger

Though located on the bustling, six-lane West Camelback Road, Rise Uptown Hotel is tucked unto itself and noticeable from a couple blocks away. Its right angle-dominated architecture is complemented by bright colors – the orange star on the sign for Don Woods’ Say When rooftop bar, or the endless Phoenix sunshine reflecting off the cacti in the lobby garden, for example. Rooms at the hotel are cement-floored and minimally decorated, seemingly to optimize airflow and keep the room cool even on the hottest summer days. I stayed in a Balcony room overlooking the pool. Walking in, a work desk topped with a single small cactus sat to my right and a king bed to the left with a single reading chair between it and the room-sized window and balcony. The room’s minimalist aesthetic doesn’t make it warmly welcoming like grandma’s place, but warm isn’t what you want in Phoenix, especially in late May. I felt comfortable and immediately relaxed.

The bed linens are airy and light, perfect for the climate, and I slept comfortably without having to freeze myself out with air con. The pool bar played music until 10 PM right outside, though it became quiet right after the top of the hour and even when the bar was open, the vibe was more relaxed than rowdy. I found it soothing as I capped the night with a writing session on the balcony. If you’re particularly sensitive to noise and go to bed early, however, request a room in the other building.

The shower is large and the shower head rains water down with ample pressure. All bathroom accessories from shampoo to soap are bulk, meaning no trash on your part. There’s plenty of space to lounge, work, or even unfurl a yoga mat in the room without feeling cramped. Natural sunlight beams through floor-to-ceiling windows, plenty enough to read by. My only knock on the room is that there is nowhere to plug in a USB or mini-USB charger. I forgot the standard plug for my phone charger, and upon realizing I wouldn’t be able to charge felt that a clock or light with a USB port could be a nice – and modern – touch.

On-site dining at Rise Uptown Hotel

Photo: Tim Wenger
Photo: Tim Wenger

An experiential hotel needs experiential dining, and Lylo Swim Club is Rise Uptown Hotel’s take. The menu is Mexican-inspired coastal cuisine and ideal for the restaurant’s poolside setting. I’ve never been able to pinpoint the reason, but lounging by the water seems to send calorie concerns away with the tide, a positive when you want to gain a true taste for a restaurant. We started with Carne Asada Fries, a massive plate of crinkle fries loaded nacho-style with toppings. Two of us barely made a dent. We also shared a chips and guac, which came in handy during the main course.

I then moved on to a plate of chicken tinga tacos, a lighter option that complemented both the increasing temperature and my fruity cocktail of choice, the Lazy Daze, made of mezcal, tropical fruits, and a bit of grapefruit soda. I love tinga and make a point to overindulge on the tomato-sauce-simmered chicken recipe each time I’m in Mexico. Lylo’s hit the spot – soft meat that, were there to be a bone, would have fallen right off it. A bit heavy on the crema sauce, but that’s easily remedied with the quick swipe of a tortilla chip over the top of each taco. I flew down to Phoenix that morning and skipped breakfast, and was therefore quite hungry by lunch. This meal hit the spot – a solid place to end a bout of intermittent fasting.

Beyond Lylo, the hotel offers popsicles, including of the boozy variety, at the front desk, with more than a dozen types to choose from. Each room receives two coupons for a free popsicle, and I cashed in one of mine for a late-night (9:30 PM, because I’m a dad) paloma pop after returning to the hotel after dinner. It tasted just like the cocktail should and made for a perfect nightcap on my room’s patio as I wrote. Atop one of the hotel’s buildings is Don Wood’s Say When rooftop bar, which overlooks the downtown Phoenix skyline, possible to do here even from only a few floors up. The bar is open Thursday to Monday evenings.

Open each morning at 7 AM, Cartel Roasting Co. occupies a standalone space on the Rise campus adjacent to Lylo Swim Club. I spent an early morning working on an article in the shop while sipping a drip coffee. The coffeeshop makes for an excellent amenity not least given that there is no coffee in the rooms (props to Rise for not stocking Keurig Krap Drippers, or seemingly any single-use plastic products at all). Cartel is legit – the barista explained to me in details that soared over my head the intricacies of the Colombia Buesaco in my mug, and while my contribution to the conversation was minimal, my level of productivity while sipping was quite high. As a remote worker who’s frequently on the road, I spend a lot of time in coffeeshops, and will seek out a Cartel location next time I’m in Phoenix.

The scene at Lylo Swim Club

Photo: Tim Wenger
Photo: Tim Wenger

I arrived to Rise Uptown Hotel at about 10 AM and had requested early check-in. After dropping my stuff in the room, I headed down to the pool at Lylo Swim Club, where I had a lounger reserved. I brought my laptop hoping to get some work done, but only got through about 20 minutes before the pool tempted me in for a swim. Even at this somewhat early hour, about a dozen others hung around the pool deck, hopping into the water intermittently to cool off and otherwise socializing on the loungers over cocktails. A trendy hotel’s mid-mod-themed pool club, in an increasingly hip part of Phoenix, is undeniably a cool place to be – and the crowd here fits that bill. It’s a friendly atmosphere, quite inclusive gauging by the nature of those around me, and gives the hotel a “destination” vibe. The bartender told me that many who visit the swim club are locals.

When I arrived back at the hotel in the evening at about 9 PM, the pool scene had the vibe of a trendy lounge. Cocktails were flowing, laughs were aplenty, and the hot tub was filled with six or seven people who all seemed to know each other. Aside from the pool itself, Lylo encompasses the restaurant which offers seating and a bar separate from the pool deck.

What else to know about Rise Uptown Hotel

balcony at rise uptown hotel

Photo courtesy Rise Uptown Hotel

Among the best things about Rise Uptown Hotel is its location right along the Phoenix Valley Metro light rail. There’s a station right across the street, making this an ideal place to base yourself if visiting Phoenix without a car. It’s part of a growing trend of businesses working to make Phoenix easier to get around by transit, and I took full advantage – I took the train downtown and back again during my stay and found the experience to be easy and very convenient.

Note that there is no gym onsite, but there’s an LA Fitness just a couple blocks up the road. I walked over there in the morning for a quick workout. Rooms at Rise Uptown Hotel start at around $121 per night for a basic room without a balcony, and proceed upward from there. If you know you’ll be dining or drinking on-site, there’s an option to add a $25 food and beverage credit onto your room at a steep discount. The nicest rooms at the hotel are located poolside and have a private fire pit, and there are plenty of balcony rooms overlooking the pool as well, including the one I stayed in. It’s a great place for a work trip to Phoenix because there’s no semblance of corporate overlords or cookie-cutter mundanity – even a short time on the property is enough to inspire one’s creative juices. I work (and sleep) better in such a state, and plan to return to Rise the next time around.

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