It’s no mirage — the historic Egyptian Motor Hotel has been revived in Downtown Phoenix’s art district.
Founded in the 1950s, the motel was resurrected by Rebel Hospitality at the end of January on its original turf at 765 Grand Avenue. With a mid-century modern ambiance, open-air entertainment venue and stage for local food and artists, the lifestyle hotel showcases the vibrancy of the neighborhood while allowing guests to take a step back in time.
“We are ecstatic to open our doors to this retro time capsule reimagined for nomads, locals, foodies, thrill seekers and everyone in between. The Egyptian is a modern crash pad with a nod to the past…” says Rebel Hospitality Principal Gene Kornota. “Grand Avenue’s spirit of creativity is a perfect match for the ethos of the Egyptian. We’re so grateful to have resurrected a time capsule of this important Phoenix community.”
Although renovated motels are trending, the Egyptian was one of the first to pop up in Phoenix and the only one to exist in Downtown.
The original Egyptian Motor Hotel opened in 1954 with a design heavily inspired by the owner’s fascination with Egypt. It operated as Las Palmas Inn for several decades before Rebel Hospitality began its restoration and adopted its original name in March 2020.
The hotel’s reopening earlier this year coincided with the beginning of the events season in the Valley.
With the Super Bowl in Glendale this year, the Egyptian hosted a watch party as one of its first big events. The celebration was complete with a 9-foot by 16-foot screen and food truck for guests to enjoy the game.
“It feels great,” Kornota says. “It’s been a long journey with the whole pandemic and some interruptions, so it’s great to be open and to begin programming and having some great events.”
Upgrades and amenities
Upon arriving at the Egyptian Motor Hotel, guests are greeted by a nostalgic neon sign, Egyptian emblems and an open-air layout that has been revamped into an upgraded mecca for hospitality and nightlife.
The classic motel V-shape was preserved, perimeter fenced and gated for security, with a parking lot that has each space marked with an iconic song name, like “Lucy in the Sky,” “Hound Dog,” “Roxanne” and “Stacy’s Mom.”
“When we saw this motel, we thought it was perfect with the shape,” Kornota says. “Look what we can do with the parking lot, we can repurpose it and create a venue while keeping the motel’s open-air concept.”
The remodeled motel’s 49 rooms have all been transformed into retro-modern crash pads.
While mid-century modern furnishings and vibrant decor bring guests on a blast to the past, all rooms provide retro refrigerators, Smart TVs, Bluetooth speakers, free Wi-Fi and acoustic guitars.
Two guest room options are available: a traditional suite with a king-size bed for $299 per night, and approximately a dozen single-stack, or bunk bed rooms, for $199 a night each.
“We’re mindful of the fact that people may come and enjoy a concert, maybe book a room and be able to hang and socialize,” Kornota says. “So the idea of the bunk bed was to allow a living space.”
Both upstairs and downstairs units feature a mini patio or balcony with privacy draperies. With just one step outside their rooms, guests can receive drink service and view the music venue and stage, thanks to the hotel’s layout.
Amid tiki torches and light-strewn palm trees, lies the outdoor bar and entertainment venue, Egyptian Live. The venue has around 250 seats, but can comfortably accommodate up to 500 people.
Picnic tables, couches and wicker chairs with coffee tables provide seating around fire pits and heat lamps for guests to enjoy entertainment and beverages.
Befitting of its name, the hotel also has an Airstream trailer that was transformed into a vivid retro lounge overlooking the grounds.
“(This) is unique to our property,” says Carlos Clendinen, the hotel’s opening general manager. “So that will be available for rent, but right now we’re just utilizing it as a green room, socializing area.”
The remainder of the outdoor space is occupied by a wading pool surrounded by cabanas and lounge chairs. There are also adult games and activities, including giant Jenga, foosball, corn hole and submarine races in the pool.
Showcasing local cuisine and artists
A significant part of the Egyptian is its spotlight on Phoenix talent.
This is visible as soon as guests arrive, as some of the artwork and decor embellishing the property were created by local artists. The hotel’s walls are decorated with murals by Ize and Tato Caraveo, and neon installations by creative collective Snoodmen light up spaces.
For entertainment, up-and-coming local musicians, DJs, comedians, magicians, live art and drag shows will take the stage at Egyptian Live year-round, with the ultimate goal to host performances seven nights a week.
Since the hotel’s reopening, the venue has welcomed a variety of entertainment, including R&B artist Carvin Jones and Latin musical group JALEO.
The hotel has also become home to the first brick-and-mortar location for Chilte, known for its pop-up food truck serving locally sourced, new-school Mexican street food in Phoenix. The restaurant is helmed by co-founder and executive chef Lawrence Smith, who was a competitor on Food Network’s “Chopped” last year.
“We’re really excited about (our partnership with Chilte) because they bring a talent and youthfulness to the property for the demographic that we’re looking to attract — they have a very high following in the demographic that our property is targeting,” Kornota says.
“What’s great about (Smith) is he’s extremely well-known, extremely talented, extremely dedicated. He has a drive for perfection… He has a real future, and we’re excited to be part of that early on.”
Chilte introduces a fresh, innovative menu at the Egyptian, ranging from around $18 to $28. Some of its dishes include a mole flight inspired by Lawrence’s travels to Mexico, and elote cheesecake, a sweet spin on beloved Mexican street corn with Mezcal, chili, fruit, corn and queso.
To enhance the dining experience, the Egyptian also offers a breakfast program featuring a few local businesses, such as Provision Coffee, Süss Pastries and Sugarloaf Lane Bakery.
“Keeping the locals involved — I think when you stay with us, that’s what you’ll get,” Clendinen says. “You’ll get what Phoenix is about, the local community and the arts.”
A social environment
At the Egyptian Motor Hotel, one can expect the unexpected.
Kornota says they look to create “more of an experience” for guests who are interested in seeing activity right outside their rooms.
What makes them feel like they’ve made the right lodging choice, is when they arrive to a bustling environment with a combination of locals and international travelers to connect with and learn about.
Kornota said he believes this is what makes the Egyptian.
“If you’re looking for something quiet and beige, this is very far from beige. It’s intended to be engaging with a lot of eye candy, and appreciating the artfulness of it, the creativity of the whole program,” he says.
“You might arrive with your bags and you might see a sultry band on the stage, musician, or something going on. You’re experiencing what Phoenix has to offer — a bit of history.”
The Egyptian Motor Hotel
765 Grand Avenue, Phoenix
Reservations: 602-807-5225, egyptianmotorhotel.com
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