History, airplanes, great food, and vintage collections. Those are just a few of the things I discovered at the best Yuma motel – the Coronado Motor Hotel. The city has been a popular Arizona destination for decades with a colorful past and bright future. For a desert location it’s also surprisingly green. The Colorado and Gila Rivers meet nearby and tributaries snake across the county. They feed one of the most productive farm communities in the west and nourish wildlife. Birders love Yuma. Those are just a few things that the motel’s family owner, Yvonne Peach, can share with you.

*** I was hosted for this trip but as always all opinions are my own.***

One of two pools at the Historic Coronado Hotel in Yuma

One of two pools at the Historic Coronado Hotel in Yuma

Unique rooms with vintage touches

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in Yuma but sensed it would be a friendly and comfortable. Check! My room was quiet with special touches you can’t find in most large brand hotels. There were custom wrought iron lamps and coffee table.  A pair of swans greeted me when I opened the door. They were delicately made from thick, soft bath towels. I had a coffee pot, of course, and small refrigerator. What most surprised me was the sleek, ergonomic office chair at the spacious desk as well as a small couch for lounging.

Guest room in the Yuma Historic Coronado Motor Hotel

Guest room in the Yuma Historic Coronado Motor Hotel

Yvonne has more surprises to share. She found dozens of old postcards in storage and over the years had them professionally blown up then framed. Now they grace the walls of rooms and the restaurant. The hotel was born as her husband’s family moved from their farm (near the site of the city’s vast mall) and began their own hospitality business. From the family home it’s grown to 127 rooms.

  • Coronado Historical Hotel original lobby in Yuma
    Coronado Historical Hotel original lobby in Yuma

Casa de Coronado Museum

Collectable pottery, posters and pictures, family heirlooms and vintage furniture hide inside the Casa de Coronado. The original switchboard and lobby desk are right inside the door. The rooms beyond overflow with historical pieces saved from decades a the top hotel in the Best Western chain. In fact when Best Western set up their company gallery they adopted several pieces from Yvonne’s collection.

Preservation with a Personal Touch

I adore vintage style and Yvonne has a real eye for value. In one of the original rooms the original pink bathroom is intact with polished art deco lamps, and a roomful of 1920’s to 1950’s hats and clothing next to famed pictures of the original owners wearing them. It’s a treasure trove of Americana. I’ve written about my fascination with past fashion and design before, (here’s a link to another vintage hotel) so walking the small-family-home-turned-museum with Yvonne curating the collection was a thrill. She’s happy to open the space up to visitors by appointment. The tour is a highlight for anyone interested in the history of the region as well.

Yvonne Peach in one of the original rooms at the Historical Coronado Hotel in Yuma

Yvonne Peach in one of the original rooms at the Historical Coronado Hotel in Yuma

Another special treat at the best motel in Yuma are the original rooms. Yvonne’s passion for authenticity and local history led to the Coronado splitting off from the Best Western brand. All the roses and bouganvilla climbing up patio walls and ten rooms shining with art deco and beaux art designs would have disappeared to adapt to new corporate branding. The Peach clan decided to go their own way, so the hotel remains independent and family run. Ask about staying in one of the original rooms. When I return to Yuma I certainly will.

Original bathroom in the Yuma Historic Coronado Motor Hotel

Original bathroom in the Yuma Historic Coronado Motor Hotel

The hotel stretches across the wide 4th Street Boulevard which is seldom busy. Several parcels were added as the Peach family expanded the business over the last 95 years. Hollywood celebrities, famous entrepreneurs and notable musicians have stayed here. Bob Hope lounged in Room 119 while he was entertaining troops at the downtown USO center during World War II. Charlie Daniels brought his entourage here. Elon Musk agreed that it was the best Yuma motel and convinced the Peach family to install electric car chargers. The Hotel was one of the first to install them in the area. Dozens of motion pictures, TV shows and commercials have been filmed in the Yuma area since the 1920’s to the current day. Crews and actors took advantage of the comfortable rooms and relaxed around the two pools. One of the Star Wars fan gatherings took place in Yuma and attendees chose the best motel in Yuma.

Star Wars gathering in Yuma from Historic Coronado Motor Hotel in Yuma

Star Wars gathering in Yuma from Historic Coronado Motor Hotel in Yuma

The Yuma Landing Bar and Grill

As the family built up their hospitality business they fed guests at the Yuma Landing Bar and Grill. Finding the right name took some doing but when they settled on local aviation history it all fell in line. The fact is that the first airplane to land in Arizona settled on the site of the hotel. On a flight to the east coast, a Wright Model B Biplane landed in Yuma nearly 100 years ago. Considered one of the Pioneers of Aviation, pilot Robert Fowler landed along what is now 4th Avenue. There’s a statue of him standing proudly just outside of the restaurant.

  • Yuma Landing Bar and Grill
    Yuma Landing Bar and Grill

Yvonne has decorated the restaurant with a highly personal collection of Jim Beam bottles and other treasures. She, and her recently departed husband John, have been collecting the flasks for decades. You’ll find them under glass throughout the restaurant and original bar. The walls are covered with prints Yvonne’s restored and historical donations. One local mother donated miniature airplanes that her son built before he left to serve in Afghanistan. “She still comes in from time to time,” Yvonne says, “but I haven’t had the courage to ask if her son is still alive.”

One of the many displays full of collectable Jim Beam bottles inside the Yuma Landing Bar and Restaurant

One of the many displays full of collectable Jim Beam bottles inside the Yuma Landing Bar and Restaurant

Larry, Yvonne’s son, is very much alive and part of the business. After finally convincing his father to allow him to build a full bar onto the restaurant, Larry fashioned a unique curved bar and added a stage for live music. The place is packed most weekends. It’s embellished by Yvonne’s talent for finding historical and vintage signs. A wagon wheel was fitted into a banister. Larry took a chandelier Yvonne bought from the old hotel San Carlos and refitted it into a room divider. You won’t find a more unique restaurant and historical collection in town.

Map to the best Yuma motel

Map to the best Yuma motel

Getting to the Best motel in Yuma

Driving out from San Diego was a breeze along Highway 8 and for those coming from Arizona it’s another straight shot south from Tucson. The hotel is conveniently located down the street from the Colorado River State Historic Park. The location is also convenient for seeing the rest of the city. I walked to Main Street in ten minutes to explore the Prison Hill Brewery, the art center, theaters plus lots of street art and murals. Leave the car in one of the hotel’s spacious parking lots, I say, and explore on foot!

One of several fountains along Yuma's Main Street

One of several fountains along Yuma’s Main Street

I hadn’t expected to fall in love with the place and the people behind the best Yuma motel. Sometimes the highlight of a trip lies behind a modest exterior. Whether flying in or coming by car, experiencing authentic places like the Coronado Motor Hotel makes the trip truly memorable.

*** I was hosted for this trip but as always all opinions are my own.***

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