Treat yourself to a stay at this unique luxury bed and breakfast in the heart of Tucson, Arizona. This downtown area of the city is increasingly being seen as the place to be with arts, leisure, crafts and lots of very good restaurants all within walking distance. This very special hostelry, the Royal Elizabeth — or just ‘The Liz’ to her friends — is also a historic property with many a story to tell.
History of the Royal Elizabeth
Constructed in 1878, the house of the Blenman family is thought to be the only known example in the world of a San Francisco Victorian home built in territorial style of adobe mud. Incidentally, Arizona was actually still part of Mexico until the early 1850’s.
Blenman was an English attorney who practiced law in Arizona for 45 years. He was known as ‘the 'judge’ and was also well known for his patriotism and his raising and lowering the US flag on a daily basis. He liked to entertain in his beautiful family home and you can still imagine the grand entrance, hallway and dining room packed with the great and the good of early Arizona society. These parts of the house are still paneled with the original wood: Douglas Fir.
The house remained in the family for many years and was then bequeathed to a charitable trust but was purchased much later in the 1990’s by contractor Royal Henry and his wife Yvonne Elizabeth. The Royal Elizabeth officially opened in 1999 after careful restoration of all the original woodwork doors and trim, which had been carefully packaged and stored in the carriage house. Also built then was the outdoor pool and jacuzzi. Very welcome in the Arizona climate!
The rooms at the Royal Elizabeth
Although filled with beautiful antique furnishings, the house still has all the modern comforts today’s traveler has come to expect. Air conditioning, free Wi-Fi and luxury bath products are all part of the package. There’s even a Sleep Mate ambient ‘white noise’ machine in case you should have trouble dropping off!
The Royal Elizabeth is a fascinating building, once such a stately home, and an example of colonial architecture as interpreted by South West America. It has large airy rooms with high ceilings and each one individually decorated and furnished with beautiful antique furniture and ornaments. Each room is named after a member of the Blenman family and I stayed in the Nicole Elizabeth room which is named after of of Blenman’s daughters. The room had a rose coloured theme with its own unique furniture and books, and even its own jacuzzi bath if you really want to pamper yourself. A patio door leads out to the pool and outdoor area to relax in the Arizona sunshine.
Eating in and out
Your hosts Glenn and Susan Miesch are enthusiastic in their welcome and are both a mine of information about the local area. Your attentive hosts will cater to your every need and serve the most amazing gourmet breakfasts, which will keep you going all day. They say the same one is never served twice to any guest! Susan’s breakfasts are legendary and you really need to try the grilled pineapple with agave nectar and toasted coconut flakes. Equally good is the cheese souffle in a tortilla basket served with barbeque chicken sausage followed by fresh mango dressed with homegrown chocolate mint. The homemade red pepper soup garnished with homemade turkey and bacon batons was delicious. The piece de resistance was the Royal Elizabeth ‘Tower of Taste’ — invented by Susan — it consists of parmesan polenta on a bed of spinach topped with a poached egg in a wonton.
The breakfasts at The Liz really give the rest of your day something to live up to and I’ll be amazed if you can fit any lunch in after that! If you do get hungry later on in the day there are lots of really rather good restaurants in this bohemian part of town. There is a very good Spanish restaurant, Casa Vicente, not far away and even a few Native American restaurants like Barrio, which was also highly recommended by my hosts. Eating well is easy in downtown Tucson.
Other things to do near the Royal Elizabeth
Tucson is fairly compact, safe and pedestrian friendly, which is always good for exploring. The tourist information staff are very helpful and can get you onto a historic walking tour of the city centre, which covers local historic sites and public buildings. This is definitely worth doing while you are there.
There is a brand new tram system criss crossing the city, which is also helpful for getting around. Check out the courtyard called Old Town Artisans where the artists of Tucson hang out displaying their beautiful high end crafts. These include Navajo pottery and other Native American paintings, glass work and crafts.
Only yards from the front door of the Royal Elizabeth is a lovely restored 1920s theatre in an adobe building, known as the temple of music and art. If you get the chance, do go and see a live performance there. There are lots of upscale bars if you just want to relax over a drink.
Out of town, try the Pima Air and Space Museum, which is without question worth a visit. See the aircraft used in Top Gun and Apocalypse Now as well some of the most amazing air and spacecrafts ever flown.
A special place to stay in Tucson
This charming property has a great deal going for it. History, heritage, and an ideal location for exploring this up and coming area of downtown Tucson. Every comfort is afforded to the discerning traveler and you can sample a breakfast you will be unlikely to forget. There’s even a jacuzzi bath in one of the rooms and this bed and breakfast is a real jewel in the crown of this cosmopolitan, laid back southern city. She maybe ‘The Liz’ to her owners but she deserves her royal reputation.