Pasadena in the early 20th Century was renowned for its many grand hotels, and there is no better monument to this gilded age of travel than the Vista del Arroyo Hotel on the eastern lip of the Arroyo Seco. The hotel played host to high society from near and far, as the golden age of train travel brought visitors from all over the world to Pasadena.
Built in 1920, with a 1930 expansion which brought the addition of the 6-story main building as well as the iconic Mission Revival Style bell tower, the hotel was designed to take advantage of the mild year-round climate, with extensive gardens, tennis courts, and a swimming pool. Guests dined and danced in luxuriously appointed halls that looked out over the grounds, gathering places with evocative names like the Sunset Room and the Spanish Room.
In 1943 the U.S Department of War acquired the property and converted it into an Army hospital. After the war the grand hotel stayed in government hands, eventually being converted to a branch of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The General Services Administration renovated the building and grounds in the 1980s, with many of the original elements restored to their original appearance.
With the loss of the Hotel Green, the Raymond Hotel, and the original Huntington Hotel main building, the Vista del Arroyo stands as a remarkably intact reminder of Pasadena’s tourist-oriented past.