Turquoise Room, La Posada Hotel, Winslow, Arizona

In the 19th century an Englishman named Fred Harvey, while working as a freight agent for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad, negotiated a contract with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad to open a chain of restaurants at railroad meal stops along their line (before dining cars were common). The “Harvey Houses”, often including a hotel, grew into a chain of 84 at their peak, and had a reputation of good food and excellent service. A few survive as hotels today, including El Tovar at the Grand Canyon, The Fray Marcos in Williams, Arizona, La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and La Posada on Route 66 in Winslow, Arizona.

The hotel was designed by Mary Colter in 1929, who later proclaimed it her masterpiece (she also designed several buildings at the Grand Canyon, including Bright Angel Lodge, and the beautiful Harvey House dining room and cocktail lounge in Union Station in Los Angeles, which is only open for private functions and tours). Santa Fe closed the hotel in 1957 and it was later vastly remodeled into an office building, with most of its interior beauty hidden behind plain walls and dropped ceilings. Incredibly, a man named Allan Affeldt purchased it in 1997 to save it from demolition, and with some partners restored it to its original grandeur. The hotel is beautiful – wonderfully restored and decorated with gorgeous artifacts with great attention to detail. A must stay if you are going along Route 66, or traveling by train on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief (the old Super Chief route), which stops directly behind the hotel (I have ridden the entire Chicago-Los Angeles route two or three times and loved every minute of it).

The ballroom at La Posada – open to guests for lounging or reading

The original Harvey House at La Posada, the Turquoise Room, has been restored as well, and is open every day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in-between meals. I was not able to stay in the hotel on my last Arizona road trip in Fall of 2008, but I stopped for lunch. I had a traditional Harvey House type meal of delicious fall-off-the-bone ribs, with house made beans, cole slaw, and cornbread. The dinner menu is fancier with classic and modern Southwest cuisine by chef John Sharpe, who was nominated among the best chefs in the U.S. by the James Beard Foundation in 2011. Many of the ingredients are traditional to the area and/or locally produced.

La Posada Turquoise Room 3

The Turqoise Room

The Turquoise Room
303 E. 2nd Street (Route 66), Winslow, AZ 86047
Phone 928.289.4366
Open 7am-9pm daily