Best Downtown Building to Poke Your Head Into Phoenix 2011 - Westward Ho
Ah, to have vacationed in the Valley in 1928, the year the Westward Ho Resort opened. The 15-story skyscraper was the height of glamour, the tip-top of the local food chain — and you can still glimpse a bit of that today. Providing you can get inside.The term "flop house" is not a nice one, and we're not even sure it technically applies, but this place is close and probably worse, if the smell in the lobby on a recent August afternoon was any indication. Only residents can roam the halls, one of the two security guards on duty warned us, explaining that the Westward Ho is now home to the elderly and "mentally disabled" (and with the latter, she made rude loopty-loops around her own ear — the international sign for "cuckoo"). No one we saw seemed particularly cuckoo, just down and out — even though they are living in a building with one of the prettiest lobbies in town. If you are fortunate to get inside, be sure to look both up (at the incredibly intricate ceiling) and down (at the perfectly preserved, painted tiles) and sneak past the guards to check the painted wooden beams in what appears to be a living room, waiting to be furnished. Such an ignored treasure — such a shame. If this place were in Portland, Oregon, it by now would be a hotel/brewery/nightclub/movie theater/tattoo parlor with a restaurant that grows its own herbs. Sigh.