Forbes Inspector

Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

Forbes Travel Guide created America's original hospitality Star Rating system in 1958. Since then, its team of incognito inspectors have checked into thousands of hotels, dined at just as many restaurants, and experienced scores of spa treatments to bring you information on the very best places to stay, eat and relax around the world. Throughout ForbesTravelGuide.com, you'll find answers about these Star-Rated and recommended hotels, restaurants and spas, as well as destinations and activities, written and provided by Forbes Travel Guide's team of professional inspectors. It's a dynamic group of people who live around the world, have a wide variety of interests and backgrounds, and are united by a passion for travel and a devotion to hunting down the world's most outstanding places.

  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best spas in Phoenix & Scottsdale?

    As a city full of tranquil landscapes and peaceful sunsets, you might expect Scottsdale’s collection of spas to be stellar — and it is. From the stunning 12,000-square-feet The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North to the Havasupai Waterfall-encompassing Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star retreats seem plentiful just north of the city center. South of it, you’ll find Aji Spa, another Four-Star beauty that employs traditional Native American techniques in its treatments. Right in the heart of things sits The Sanctuary Spa in all its understated Four-Star elegance. Another chapel of serenity is the cutting-edge Four-Star The Centre for Well-Being at The Phoenician. And when it comes to the oasis known as Royal Palms Resort & Spa’s Four-Star Alvadora Spa, there’s so much to tantalize –the Mediterranean-styled, open-air design; the mesmerizing plant-inspired massages—that you may need to get a room for a couple of nights to ensure that you fit it all in.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Phoenix & Scottsdale?

    The best places to stay in Phoenix take advantage of the sunny weather with luxurious pools, fine dining and stunning desert settings.

    At Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Southwestern-style casitas stand out on the 40-acre nature preserve in the foothills of Pinnacle Park. A veritable mecca for golfers, the resort grants priority tee times at Troon North's two courses, considered among the best in the world. Be sure to check out the spa, which offers desert nectar facials and moonlight massages.

    Also in Scottsdale and situated at the base of picturesque Camelback Mountain, The Phoenician is a local gem with pristine golf courses, pools and a spa. Don't miss a walk through the cactus garden and get an audio tour of the hotel's $25 million collection of art, which includes French tapestries, Navajo rugs and contemporary fiber art.

    And right next door sits Five-Star The Canyon Suites at the Phoenician, a resort-within-a-resort that caters to travelers with their intentions set solely on relaxing. From the plush rooms equipped with private terraces to the all-accommodating Canyon Ambassador, this intimate retreat exudes desert grandeur.

    Located near some of the best shopping and restaurants in the city in the middle of Camelback Corridor, The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix wows with striking views of Piestewa Peak and luxurious service. The rooms, classically decorated with beds topped with luxury Egyptian cotton linens, all have views of the skyline or the Squaw Peak Mountain Range. To take in the sun, go outside to the heated pool and the sundeck area, which is cooled with hydro-misters.

    Or venture to Paradise Valley to Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain. You won't find typical Southwestern décor here. The desert chic mountain casitas have woodblock floors, glass-tiled dry bars and luxurious bathrooms with travertine marble. The multi-level spa casitas boast floor-to-ceiling windows and walk-in closets, while the spa suites have outdoor soaking tubs in case you just can't bring yourself to walk the short distance to the large infinity-edge pool.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best restaurants in Phoenix & Scottsdale?

    Though Phoenix only gets about eight inches of rain per year, the city is absolutely blooming with stellar restaurants. One of the entries that’s truly grown into a valley treasure is the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Kai Restaurant, a place where locally grown produce pairs with long-followed Native American cooking techniques wonderfully on your plate. Four-Star Talavera is another of the city’s top dinner destinations for a host of reasons, none more obvious than the ever-evolving steakhouse menu and the excellent alfresco dining in the shadows of Pinnacle Peak. Il Terrazzo also pairs brilliant cuisine with breathtaking views. Tucked amidst ultra-green Four-Star The Phoenician, this upscale Italian restaurant offers peeks to up-lit palm trees and a gorgeous resort pool.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which five Phoenix & Scottsdale restaurants are best for brunch?

    Although the hotspots are somewhat limited, brunch in Phoenix is a must, with patio dining and swoon-worthy cuisine. For the best of both, check out our five best picks:

    1. Lon's at Hermosa Inn. Set in a restored hacienda, Lon's at Hermosa Inn brings the best of old and new Arizona together. A well-worth-it $24 gets you an all in-one-brunch deal, featuring simply yummy entrees made from ingredients from the organic garden.

    2. El Chorro Lodge. A Valley favorite, El Chorro Lodge features a picturesque patio with views of Camelback Mountain. While the restaurant's complimentary sticky buns are addiction worthy, savory dishes, such as house-specialty eggs benedict, shine at this Valley institution.

    3. Fez. This restaurant is easily the best brunch in central Phoenix, with delightful cocktails and stellar twists on classics. The menu boasts the "best egg white omelet you'll ever have" and it isn't lying.

    4. The Mission. Arizonans have a penchant for spicy food in the morning, at noon and, well, all day. If you want to brunch like a local, head to The Mission in Scottsdale where funky style and seriously good Latin cuisine await. The chorizo and eggs and red chilaquiles are staples.

    5. T. Cook's. At T. Cook's at Royal Palm Resort, enjoy sunshine and spectacular views of Camelback Mountain over an all-you-can-eat buffet spread. The Mediterranean elements are the best on the menu, so be sure to try the fresh mozzarella.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is Phoenix & Scottsdale’s restaurant scene like?

    Dining in Phoenix has come a long way in recent years. While much of the city's cuisine is still based on Southwestern and Sonoran influences — and we're not complaining — Phoenix is also home to considerable innovation thanks to James Beard Award-winning chefs and Five-Star worthy dining experiences. The local food movement is taking off in the city, with chefs around the Valley of the Sun snapping up the city's best produce — and growing it themselves — and transforming it into simple, bright dishes. Increasingly, artisanal products such as local olive oil from Queen Creek Olive Mill and Arizona wines are showing up on tables across the city. Still an affordable city, this is the place to try prix-fixe menus without breaking the bank. The only downside to the recent explosion of the restaurant scene is the lack of a central neighborhood to dine in. Much like the sprawling desert, the best of Phoenix dining stretches across cities, suburbs and even into outlying areas.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best Phoenix & Scottsdale food experiences?

    Phoenix may not automatically come to mind when you thing of great food cities, but this Southwestern city has plenty to offer foodies. With James Beard Award-winning chefs and a Five-Star dining experience, it's easy to lose yourself in Phoenix's high-end cuisine, but it's not for the faint of wallet. The backbone of the city, however, is Southwestern and Sonoran dishes. Don't leave town before you work your way through our list of can't-miss Phoenix food experiences:

    1. Eat something spicy. The Southwest is known for bold flavors and sweat-inducing meals. Whether it's a green chile burrito at hole-in-the-wall Rito's Mexican Food or street-food inspired tacos at more upscale Gallo Blanco, you can't visit Phoenix without braving the heat.

    2. Try the pizza, yes, the pizza. Listen up, New Yorkers and Chicagoans — Phoenix's Pizzeria Bianco has national notoriety. That means multi-hour waits for the wood-fired pizzas, but it's worth it.

    3. Experience Five-Star cuisine at Kai. The only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant in the Valley of the Sun, Kai wows with Native American inspired dishes and superb service. It's hard to go wrong at this stunning facility, but the grilled tenderloin of tribal buffalo is not to be missed.

    4. Go exotic. Housed in a funky, historic home, Nobuo at Teeter House is James Beard Award-winner Nobuo Fukuda's playground, where stellar Japanese cuisine mixes with to-die-for interpretations of street food. Dishes are designed for sharing, which is good since it's tempting to order the whole menu.

    5. Get out of the city. A drive from Phoenix, Binkley's Restaurant in Cave Creek is a foodie's paradise. The playful interpretations of Americana favorites will keep you on your toes. The menu avoids typical high-end clichés, breathing new light into prix fixe dining.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best romantic restaurants in Phoenix & Scottsdale?

    Inspired by the beauty of the desert, romantic restaurants in Phoenix start with stunning views and finish with stellar cuisine. Here's our list of the five best:

    1. Quiessence. At the base of South Mountain, sitting among pecan groves and gardens, this local favorite wins on its intimate setting alone. The elegant American fare changes daily, but the multi-course Farmer's Feast brings the best of this working farm to the table.

    2. T. Cook's. This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant at Royal Palms Resort boasts Old World sophistication and top-notch cuisine. The twinkling lights, colonial architecture and soothing fountains will transport you out of the city and into another era.

    3. Lon's at Hermosa Inn. For a touch of Arizona charm, head to Hermosa Inn, where you'll dine in a restored hacienda. The crave-worthy dishes are created from the restaurant's organic garden and the sunset views are some of the best in the city — be sure to sit on the patio.

    4. Vincent on Camelback. The ever-romantic French tradition meets the Southwest on James Beard Award-winner Vincent Guerithault's menu, featuring fusion dishes. While the setting is decidedly romantic, food is the focus here. Your sweetie will swoon over the duck tamales.

    5. A Different Pointe of View. With sweeping views and high-end cuisine, this mountaintop restaurant specializes in romance. Be sure to book a window seat for a view of the twinkling city lights.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best kid-friendly restaurants in Phoenix & Scottsdale?

    Given the generally family-friendly vibe in Phoenix, it's easy to think the city was planned specifically with youngsters in mind. Kid-friendly restaurants are plentiful in Phoenix, but a handful of local gems make the dining scene truly unique. For an experience kids and their parents will dig in to, try these local favorites:

    1. Joe's Farm Grill. The restaurant is a trek from downtown, but worth the drive. Fare such as burgers and barbecue is made with local products, and even vegetables grown onsite. Come to enjoy a surprisingly bucolic setting in the city where kids can burn off some energy in the open green spaces.

    2. Organ Stop Pizza. Music from the 6,000-pipe Wurlitzer organ keeps kids dancing in the aisles while parents can kick back with beers and pizza at this truly one-of-a-kind spot.

    3. Sugar Bowl. A favorite since the '50s, this retro ice cream parlor is a sure-fire hit. Have a banana split and get acquainted with old-fashioned treats like the Sugar Bowl's Ice Capades and Camelback Sodas. When you're finished, there's an arcade next door.

    4. La Grande Orange Pizzeria. This cool and casual spot is a breakfast bar, pizzeria and grocery in one, serving pies from classic to unique, including a vegan option. There's a kids' menu and they serve celery and carrot sticks for no charge.

    5. Rustler's Rooste. Kids will love the Western atmosphere at this themed restaurant. You'll embrace the kitsch, too, when you see their reaction to the giant slide in the dining room. They serve steaks, ribs and chicken, but that's not really the point.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What’s the best time to visit Phoenix & Scottsdale?

    With mild winters and idyllic weather in the spring and fall, the best time to visit Phoenix stretches from October to April. Summers can be brutal in the Valley of the Sun — with average daily temperatures sure to be over 100 F — but the heat dissipates in mid-September and stays nice through mid-May. Temperatures tend to stay between the mid 50s and 80s from fall to spring, and rarely dip below freezing. Days are warm, with sunshine most of the year. Spring is particularly magical in Phoenix, with orange blossoms starting to bloom and spring training baseball games getting underway.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Phoenix & Scottsdale in two days?

    If you have two days in the Phoenix, look to add in a wild West adventure. Start day one with a quick trip to a local breakfast hotspot such as Matt's Big Breakfast in downtown Phoenix or the Breakfast Club of Scottsdale. Then spend the morning hitting the links or the picturesque hiking trails. The Phoenician in Scottsdale and the Legacy Golf Club in Phoenix immerse you in the desert while still on the manicured greens, while a hike up Camelback or South Mountain is sure to work up an appetite. For lunch, check out the local specialty: Mexican cuisine with an Arizona twist at Barrio Café or Los Sombreros. Spend the afternoon at the Heard Museum for some Native American history or the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale for a new take on sound. Wind the afternoon down at The Vig for affordable appetizers and killer cocktails or Four Peaks for local brews. Dine over sunset views at Lon's at Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley or take the short trip out to Kai for Five-Star Native American cuisine and mountain views.

    On day two, take a drive just outside the city center. Scenic roads abound east of the city and a trip to Saguaro Lake will take you through a forest of ancient saguaro cacti, while a drive up the Apache Trail brings breathtaking views and ends in the old-west town of Tortilla Flats. Don't want to add on the mileage? Head to the Desert Botanical Gardens where the best of the desert can be discovered on easy walking trails. Head to Gallo Blanco for a lunch of street-food-inspired tacos, or track down actual street fare from the upscale food trucks that dot the city — Short Leash Hot Dogs is a Phoenix favorite. Indulge in the afternoon — choose relaxing at the Montelucia Resort and Spa or treat yourself to some shopping at Biltmore Fashion Park.

    Looking for more excitement? With pro baseball, basketball, football and hockey teams, spring training, fall ball and Arizona State University in Tempe, there's always a game to catch. Spend your final evening in Phoenix downtown, at Pizzeria Bianco or Nobuo at Teeter House. Located across the way from each other in historic Heritage Square, both restaurants feature James Beard Award-winning chefs and to-die-for cuisine. If you've got enough energy for some nightlife, don't miss Char's Has the Blues in Phoenix for live music or head to Scottsdale for clubbing at Axis Radius.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Phoenix & Scottsdale in one day?

    Phoenix is a sprawling city, so if you only have one day to see the Valley of the Sun, look to stay in Scottsdale or downtown Phoenix. Start your day with breakfast at a local favorite — Matt's Big Breakfast or the Breakfast Club of Scottsdale — before heading outdoors. Stunning mountain golf courses, such as the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale or the Legacy Golf Club in Phoenix; hiking trails on Camelback and South Mountain; or a stroll through the Desert Botanical Gardens all make for a picturesque mid-morning. After working up an appetite, look for something with Mexican flair for lunch — you're in the Southwest, after all — such as Barrio Café or Los Sombreros.

    As the afternoon sun climbs into the sky, head for the Heard Museum in Phoenix to marvel at the Native American art and artifacts, or take in the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale to see some seriously famous music-machines. Don't miss the great food and cheap drinks at happy hours across the city — settle in at The Vig or local watering hole Four Peaks in Tempe and Scottsdale.

    For dinner, experience one of the city's great restaurants with a sunset view. Try the American cuisine at Lon's at the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley for an old west experience surrounded by the desert. In Phoenix, head to the Five-Star Kai for Native American cuisine and mountain views. If you're looking for nightlife, Char's Has the Blues in Phoenix is a local favorite for live music, while Scottsdale is the place to dance the night away at the ever-popular Axis Radius club.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is Phoenix & Scottsdale’s cultural scene like?

    Shaped by the area's Native American heritage and long-time love affair with the arts, Phoenix's cultural scene is lively. From The Phoenix Symphony to public art dotting the desert setting, the city is filled with opportunities to enjoy the fine arts. Monthly art walks in Phoenix and Scottsdale transform the city with open galleries, while Broadway productions and local theater — with companies such as Actors Theatre and Stray Cat Theatre — are mainstays. Jazz bars and local venues offer music every night of the week. A city filled with museums, Phoenix documents and celebrates everything from firefighters — The Hall of Flame Fire Museum — to music-making — the Musical Instrument Museum. Perhaps the real gem, however, is the area's Native American history. Don't miss the Heard Museum, home to a comprehensive southwest art collection that explores the legacy of the state's many Native American tribes.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where can I go to watch sports in Phoenix & Scottsdale?

    Sports bars abound in Phoenix, but with five professional sports teams and state-of-the-art stadiums, this is the place to catch a game live. Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, boasts a retractable roof, air conditioning and seats as cheap as $6. The stadium rarely sells out, making day-of tickets easy to come by. Just next-door is the US Airways Center where the NBA's Phoenix Suns hoop it up. Although tickets aren't necessarily cheap, there isn't a bad seat in the house. If you're planning to enjoy the spring weather, don't miss Cactus League spring training games where you can get up-close to the baseball greats for less money. If you want a place to kick back and catch a game, head downtown to Majerle's Sports Grill or Alice Cooperstown Restaurant, where everyone congregates around great food and multiple TVs.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the best places to hear live music in Phoenix & Scottsdale?

    Phoenix is a city in love with the arts, yet the best places to hear live music remain underground — and have a serious local following. For blues, jazz or something funky, head to Char's Has the Blues. It's a tiny spot with nearly impossible parking, but the fun crowd and great live music every night more than makes up for its shortcomings. A more traditional venue, The Rhythm Room showcases roots and blues. The low-to-the-ground stage and small capacity create an intimate experience for the nightly shows. If you want some Old West charm, head to Handlebar J Restaurant and Saloon for live country music and cowboy fun — the music is the focus here, so be sure to eat before you go.
  • On April 7
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best Phoenix & Scottsdale nightlife?

    Sleepy during the week, Scottsdale clubs light up on the weekends while artsy bars downtown turn out unique cocktails, high-end beers and fine wines. If you're looking to dance, head to Scottsdale where the young and famous party. Ever-popular Axis Radius has a two-clubs-in-one approach and attracts everyone from celebrities to local VIPs. Nearby Myst has a fun architectural twist, including suspended catwalks, six bars, two dance floors and an outdoor patio perfect for enjoying the warm weather. Bars line Old Town Scottsdale, making it easy to experience the best spots without driving. If you want something more low key, head to downtown Phoenix where local darling The Roosevelt stocks high-end beers and wines in a charming historic house and The Vig Uptown serves inventive cocktails in a remodeled bank from the '60s.