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, 2014
    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, 2014
    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, 2014
    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, 2014
    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, 2014
    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, 2014
    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, 2014
    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, 2014
    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, 2014
    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.
  • On April 7, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best Phoenix & Scottsdale museums?

    From the traditional to the innovative, Phoenix has a surprising collection of museums. It's hard to go wrong with most of the museums in the city, but these are the standouts:

    A celebration of Native American heritage, the Heard Museum shows off the rich history of the state's tribes. The exhibits guide you through the life, legacy and mysticism of the Southwest's tribes. This is a must see for all visitors to the Phoenix area. Frequent cultural events on the weekends are worth attending — the dance performances are especially captivating. 

    For the arts enthusiast, the Phoenix Art Museum or the rotating shows at the museum at modern Mesa Arts Center are well worth a visit. The rotating collections at the Mesa Arts Center highlight thought-provoking works while the Phoenix Art Museum balances traditional European and Asian collections with downright cool installation pieces like James Turrell's Tall Glass.

    The Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale has burst onto the scene as a new favorite. Surprisingly quiet, the history of musical instruments from the familiar to wacky plays out in individual headphones. This is truly a space to immerse yourself in the music — without the overwhelming background noise. Don't miss the chance to gawk at instruments played by the likes of John Lennon and The Black Eyed Peas.
  • On April 7, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best free things to do in Phoenix & Scottsdale?

    Some of the best of Phoenix is available for free, from gorgeous hiking trails to frequent cultural events. There's a lot to see in the Valley of the Sun for cheap, making it easy to have fun without spending a dime. Here's our list of the best five things to do for free:

    1. Check out First Friday. First Friday turns downtown Phoenix into a massive art walk with open galleries, live bands and performance art. Best of all, the whole experience is free. Missed it? Many galleries re-open for Third Friday while Scottsdale's ArtWalk, which takes place every Thursday, is a close second.

    2. Hit the trails. Head outside to enjoy the desert at South Mountain or Piestewa Peak, where hiking trails for everyone from beginners to experts lead to the top with panoramic views of the Valley. Be sure to bring plenty of water if you're heading out on the trails, even in cooler weather the desert can easily leave you dehydrated.

    3. Enjoy Free Museum Night. Many area museums, including the Phoenix Art Museum, host a free night once a month. The art museum is a cultural beacon in the city, with strong European, Latin American and Asian art collections. Don't miss the lively contemporary art collection or frequent travelling exhibitions.

    4. Hop on the Trolley. If you plan on touring Old Town Scottsdale, don't miss the Scottsdale Trolley Tour, which is an easy way to learn about the area without wearing a hole in your sneakers. This two-hour tour will introduce you to the best of Old Town — highlighting restaurants, shopping and the town's history along the way. A must-see occurs early in the tour at the Old Adobe Mission. This 1931 whitewashed building sparkles against the low-lying adobe buildings in the area. Contrasted against a bright blue sky, this is a can't-miss photo opportunity.

    5. Check out the area's farmers markets. Once a staple of the state's economy, citrus is the pride of the Valley of the Sun. Don't miss the sweet oranges, tangy yet sweet lemons or the multiple varieties of grapefruit from local farmers who showcase the best seasonal produce from around the state. For something unique, sample some of the local Queen Creek Olive Mill's olive oil. Surprising flavors and a mild finish make this distinctive product worth spending a few dollars on. Farmers markets are spread across the city but the Downtown Phoenix Public Market on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings is a favorite.
  • On March 24, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What makes Capella Singapore different from other hotels?

    We could tell you about Capella Singapore’s standout design, which between its restored British colonial bungalows and contemporary building with distinct curved architecture is a striking combination of old with new, or even its standout Five-Star Auriga Spa (try the Balinese massage). But what makes this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star different from other hotels are its feathered guests booked on a long-stay reservation. You likely won’t have to go searching for the families of wild peacocks that freely roam this Singapore hotel’s expansive grounds — you’ll run into them in the central courtyard and walking across the pool decks, and might even see one just outside your room’s floor-to-ceiling window. And who could blame them? The bird’s-eye views — pun intended — of the South China Sea from many of Capella Singapore’s rooms are stunning.
  • On February 10, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are five things to know about WaterColor Inn & Resort?

    Before heading to WaterColor Inn & Resort, here are five things to know about the Florida Gulf Coast property:

    1. Getting there. If you are flying in, the closest airport is about 35 to 40 minutes away by car. Car services are available or you can rent a vehicle and park for free at the resort. 

    2. The majority of the guest rooms are the same. All of the guest rooms on the first three floors feature 500 square feet of living space, king size beds, queen size pullout sleeper sofas, spa-style bathrooms and furnished patios or balconies. The only difference in these rooms is the view.

    3. Bikes are free. When driving up to the property, you will likely notice people biking along the bike path on 30-A. The resort has biking trails and provides guests with bikes for exploring the area.

    4. Water sports. Along with biking, guests at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel can also enjoy a range of water sports on the property such as kayaking, YOLO boarding and boating on the resort’s coastal dune lake.

    5. The resort has a full-service spa. You can get your feet beach-ready with a pedicure or soothe tired muscles with a massage at InnSpa, located just steps from your guest room.
  • On February 5, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Do I need a reservation at Muse by Jonathan Cartwright at The Mayflower Grace?

    You do not need to make a reservation at Muse by Jonathan Cartwright at The Mayflower Grace. However, the Connecticut hotel does recommend that you make a reservation at their restaurant, especially if you have a specific table request. The good news is that you will not be penalized if you decide to cancel your reservation later. The staff at Muse by Jonathan Cartwright at The Mayflower Grace will try to solicit dining times from you, but if you can’t commit, that’s fine, too. They will try to accommodate you at whatever time you arrive — but keep in mind that priority is given to guests staying at The Mayflower Grace.
  • On February 5, 2014
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Is there parking at Muse by Jonathan Cartwright at The Mayflower Grace?

    You will have no trouble finding parking at Muse by Jonathan Cartwright at The Mayflower Grace, which is located in the inn’s main building, also known as Mayflower House. You can simply pull up to the building and have the valet park your car for you, or park it yourself. Parking is free, whether you’re a guest at the hotel or just dropping in for a meal. And there are plenty of spots available, in front of and behind the building, as well as handicap access.