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“FABULOUS! A HAVEN IN THE DESERT.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Inns at El Rancho Merlita

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The Inns at El Rancho Merlita
1924 N. Corte El Rancho Merlita, Tucson, AZ 85715   |  
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Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #6 of 53 Tucson B&B and Inns
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“FABULOUS! A HAVEN IN THE DESERT.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2013

Spent two nights and one whole day without leaving. Birds and wildlife are more than we saw throughout AZ and the Grand Canyon. Breakfasts were wonderful as was the innkeeper Patti. Room was one of the nicest b&b's we've ever stayed in. Coffee outside the room every morning at time we requested. Extremely reasonable rates. 8 rooms - 4 in main house, 4 in ranch house, fully restored original winter home and guest house of Merle Norman.
Pool and hot tub under the stars very romantic. Gardens beautiful; quite unusual for AZ. Lots of good restaurants nearby and other things to visit. Ran out of time to do everything.
Joy and Bill, Chattanooga, TN

Room Tip: All the rooms are marvelous and have covered porches and chairs outside door for watching wildlife.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (31)
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Clearwater
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
87 helpful votes 87 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2013

I found paradise in the middle of a neighborhood. Searched online for something other than a chain hotel and was fortunate to find Rancho Merlita. What a treasure! If you like a little taste of being in a 'remote' place but in the middle of everything at the same time, this is the location for you. Formally the estate of cosmetic legend Merle Norman, the home was almost plowed down to make a subdivision, but was saved from demolition and turned into a bed and breakfast. The main house has accomodations and so does the separate guest house - you get the feel of Arizona but in a homey type of environment. In the morning you will be awaken by the mourning doves, see a family of quail scurry by and admire the ancient look of the tree lizards, the outright cuteness of the ground squirrels and wild rabbits. Breakfast is short of amazing made by Ms. Bell who runs the property impecably. I even got a copy of the breakfast bread I had at my first breakfast; if you want a copy you'll have to stay - I'm not giving away the secret! In the afternoon you are treated with a little snack and beverage which you can take to the pool or back to your room. In the 'library' at the main house, there are a variety of DVD's you can watch, or like me, if you need to print your boarding passes for your next day flight bring it on - they have a computer complete with a convenient printer. Wi-Fi is available and accessible. Room was comfy, slept better than in any hotel I have stayed at before and there was nothing I could think of that wasn't available.Little trails for you to walk and a star gazing patio area to enjoy at night. It's a gated property so you feel also very safe. Near the main drags of Broadway, Speedway and Tanque Verde you can literally turn in any direction and be close to an amazing sight to visit. Nothing seemed too far away from Rancho Merlita. Will definitely come back if in Tucson again without thinking about it twice. Great for couples young and old.

Room Tip: I would prefer the guest house just because it's away from the main house. I like the privacy.
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Spokane, Washington
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2013

What a wonderful place to stay! The ranch house is so cool, quiet and peaceful; beautiful architecture and tastefully decorated. They have thought of everything at El Rancho Merlita, down to chilled water bottles in your refrigerator and snacks each afternoon. Breakfast each day was delightful; always featuring fresh fruit and incorporating tastes of the desert, such as prickly-pear syrup for our blue-corn-flour pancakes. We loved eating outside, listening to the quail, doves and cactus wrens.

The grounds are fun to wander around on; mature landscaping, blooming cactus, lots of birds, cotton-tailed rabbits and javelinas. We quickly discovered our favorite spot: two lounge chairs located in the breezeway, right in front of a bubbling fountain. It was the perfect spot to relax in the shade with our books and a glass of wine after a morning hiking in the desert. We stayed in the main house, and I'm glad we did. It was homey and very quiet. The front of the home has a wide veranda with lounge chairs overlooking the lawn and mountains behind the pool.

It is located a ways from down-town, but since downtown Tucson doesn't have much going on, it wasn't a problem. We did go to El Charro Cafe downtown twice, (wonderful!!) and 4th Ave for some shopping; it was just a quick straight-shot from the Inn. There are plenty of great restaurants nearby (we went to Vera Amore 3 of our four nights there, because we loved the creme brulee so much!)

We stumbled upon The Inns at El Rancho Merlita when our original lodging fell through (as in they closed down for several months) ten days before our trip, and Expedia failed to notify us. After some scrambling to find a place that suited us (a tasteful and quiet inn near Saguaro East), I found this place, and Pattie and Meagan were so helpful and accommodating. It turned out for the best; we are SO glad we ended up at this lovely oasis in the desert and will definitely be back.

We highly recommend El Rancho Merlita to anyone looking for a romantic get-away who likes a more quiet and private bed and breakfast experience.

Room Tip: We stayed in the Arizona Territory room, and it was lovely and quiet. A bit small-ish if you're...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phoenix, Arizona
Top Contributor
114 reviews 114 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 53 cities Reviews in 53 cities
156 helpful votes 156 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2013

We booked El Rancho Merlita for an overnight getaway from Phoenix. The grounds are absolutely stunning with a beautiful desert garden teeming with wildlife in the back. This historic ranch home is beautifully decorated and maintained. We booked the Mi Nidito room in the Arroyo House Inn as I loved the look of it, however upon arriving we were led to another room and something was briefly mentioned about air conditioning problems in the other room. I was a bit taken aback as we ended up in the Spanish Colonial Room (very nice, but it just didn't appeal to me personally) without much explanation. Once I got over my initial disappointment we explored the beautiful gardens and pool area and watched quail and hummingbirds come and go. At one point we even saw a Harris Hawk make an attempt at a morning dove dinner (luckily the dove got away) There is a beautiful mountain view from the front of the property as well. Ice cold water was provided in the room upon arrival (a nice touch) and the room was well equipped. The bathroom was beautifully decorated and there was a separate dressing room that could literally sleep two more people. Breakfast was served on a beautiful backyard patio and was quite good. You are free to get what you need from the kitchen after hours such as wine glasses and a corkscrew and there is a library with a computer books and several dvds to choose from. We enjoyed wine on the patio at dusk overlooking the lovely garden but were surprised to find that the area isn't necessarily quiet at night. In addition to helicopters flying over somewhat regularly there were neighbor's (incessantly) barking dogs and we even heard children yelling and playing over the fence. The ranch is located in a great location to Sabino Canyon and Saguaro National Park but keep in mind it is still in the middle of the city, not the desert as we quickly learned so you will still hear "city" sounds. Regardless, the property and grounds are quite beautiful and well worth the experience of a stay here. TIP: Do not try to use the address in maps or GPS as it will not work. We forgot the directions from the website and were hopelessly lost for awhile. For all those reliant upon your Garmin, here are the coordinates. Hopefully they'll put it on the website. Latitude: 32° 14.701'N
Longitude: 110° 48.691'W

Room Tip: If you like the looks of the Spanish Colonial Room, it is on the end near the fountain with more pri...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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ERMPB, Manager at The Inns at El Rancho Merlita, responded to this review, May 14, 2013
I am very sorry these folks were disappointed with their room assignment, and appreciate all their comments. Sometimes maintenance issues simply require changes, and in this case it was definitely an upgrade to a larger room with more amenities. I am not sure what more we could have said about it. If the helicopter was around it means that our police department was keeping us safe. There is a school nearby and the sound of children's voices, and dogs will surely bark at helicopters. Sadly, all matters beyond our control.
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washington state
Top Contributor
134 reviews 134 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 64 cities Reviews in 64 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 11, 2013

Pulling in to Tucson during spring training time we have no idea if we'd find a place to stay. Found this in the AAA book and called to ask if they had a room. When I asked how to get there the reply was "don't you have a gps?" Well would I have inquired if I did? The directions were confusing but we managed for find it. The name of the street does not match the address, behind a gate quick wasn't explained....Planned to stay one night stayed two...

You can imagine what the place had once been like before Tuscon grew up around it. It was the retreat for Merle Norman and her workers way back when who slept in cots in under the stars and came on a big bus.

Lovely spot. Unheated pool. Children's noises from the school nearby. lovely outdoor areas, peaceful, and super tastefully done.

Not many guests when we were there, super nice room in the second building not the main house. Main house seemed like it could be noisy.

Hot tub not too hot and pool unheated and for March too cool to enter a disappointment for this avid swimmer.

Great outside kitchen. Everyone went on and on about the innkeeper who we found to be a little prickly and not as welcoming as her fill-in who was fabulous once we found the place.

I can see spending a week here and I'm sure many people do. A bit off the beaten track if you want to park the car, but I suppose all of Tucson is like that. Lovely views, marvelous history, internet access with a printer, lovely public areas to share, good fresh breakfast and outdoor seating.

A great find.

Room Tip: We preferred the second building for the privacy and quiet it seemed you'd be awakened early in...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ERMPB, Manager at The Inns at El Rancho Merlita, responded to this review, May 14, 2013
We certainly appreciate the effort all of our guests make to locate us. Unfortunately, some of the internet search engines and satellite systems have it wrong, which can be confusing. We usually ask folks who don't have the reliable map and directions from our website if they have a GPS to help us guide them along. Communication over cell phones can be challenging at best and, of course, first time visitors have the disadvantage of not know the lay of the land.
I sincerely apologize if my manner seemed anything but welcoming. Hopefully the fact that the other guests were saying nice things is testimony to the fact that we always strive to be. And I thank my assistant Megan for taking such good care of these folks.
Our pool is not heated. We do keep the hot tub set at at least 100 degrees, and guests are free to adjust the temperature, 104 being the maximum allowed by law.
In response to this reviewer's Tips, our guests are remarkably respectful of each other and the walls in the main Ranch House are very thick brick so I believe you will find the rooms here to be just as quiet as the ones in the Arroyo House.
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Burlington, Ontario
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

My husband and I stayed in the Merle Norman suite at El Rancho Merlita for 4 nights over Easter weekend. It was amazing! Our suite and really the whole place was tastefully decorated with comfortable, stylish furniture and unique pieces of art everywhere. It was also immaculately clean. There are many places to sit outside and enjoy the beautifully landscaped desert gardens surrounding the buildings and we had a lovely view of the mountains too. A very peaceful place. We were in Tucson to sight see but this would be a great place if you are looking for a getaway where you could just stay in. There is a great pool and hot tub on the property too. The location was convenient to many places such as Sabino Canyon, Saguaro National Park East and Mount Lemmon highway. Pattie and Megan provided wonderful breakfasts and afternoon treats and cold drinks too. They were a wealth of knowledge about things to do in the area, giving us great recommendations for lunch and dinner in nearby places too. We left behind a small bag of souvenirs from a day trip to Tombstone and Pattie contacted me via email and sent them back to us by mail. Almost cost more for her to do it than they cost to buy but it was a nice touch after we were gone. You won’t be disappointed if you stay here, we will definitely return for a longer visit next year! Check out the website, the descriptions and photos are accurate.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

This lovely B&B makes you want to call it home. Beautiful serene setting. Elegant touchs to rooms. Delicious, healthy breakfasts. We were given great dining suggestions. Wished we had a less busy itinerary to soak in all the ambiance. Great front porch to enjoy scenery and back patio to enjoy the desert garden. Pool area very inviting.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about The Inns at El Rancho Merlita

Address: 1924 N. Corte El Rancho Merlita, Tucson, AZ 85715
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Arizona > Tucson
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 53 B&Bs / Inns in Tucson
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Stay at the historic 1950’s Merle Norman Ranch House and estate. Carved wood beams, rope trim, and hand hewn local rock fireplaces define this home. Outside, relax under deep shaded porches, and enjoy the swimming pool and spa. At night, cuddle up in our soft Egyptian cotton sheets and luxurious Museum of New Mexico Collection bedding. Every morning Innkeeper Pattie Bell will greet you with her freshly prepared breakfasts, inspired by southern Arizona local flavor. ... more   less 

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