Nicole Dahl, executive director of the Hotel McCoy, says she knew there was a lot of potential in the property that later became the hotel. But calling it a blank canvas, she says, doesn’t quite describe it: “It was more like a blank canvas that got covered up by a dirty old blanket and shoved in the corner, and no one could see it.”
That’s an apt description for this old motor lodge on Tucson’s west side. Since 2018, the McCoy has been making waves on social media for its prolific displays of local art. But just as key to the hotel’s success, its staff says, is that guests are in tune with its community-centric vibe. “We tend to attract people who are about connecting and community,” says Norma Lopez, the McCoy’s assistant general manager. “We get a lot of neighbors talking to each other and sharing contact information because they hit it off really well.”
The hotel dates to around 1970 and previously was the ill-reputed Silverbell Inn. Dahl’s group bought it in 2017 and launched an extensive 18-month renovation, turning a dank, dilapidated “no-tell motel” into a brightly colored,
eye-catching destination that now features plenty of guest activities right on the property. And the care that went into each new element is obvious right away.
An arched entryway still beckons drivers on Silverlake Road, but it now is adorned with colorful murals — as are the walls inside the property. The expanded lobby features a gallery of locally created pieces, a bar serving local beers and Southern Arizona wines (along with a complimentary oatmeal breakfast), and tamales from Tucson Tamale Co. Just outside the lobby is a new recreation area and the revamped saltwater pool. Even the parking spaces are named for people and places connected to the Tucson area, from artist Ted DeGrazia (who goes by his full first name, Ettore, here) to the Santa Catalina Mountains.
And that’s before you get to your room. There are about 90 of those, and they come in four sizes: the Ochoa (single queen bed), the Chattman (two queens), the Sentinel Peak (one king and a kitchenette) and the Feliz (one queen and a set of bunk beds). Guests rave about the large TVs and comfortable beds, and Dahl says half the rooms eventually will feature a mural. In the other half, there’s more local art for sale — and, as elsewhere on the property, the hotel takes no commission. “We wanted a concept that gave back to the community,” Dahl says.
The McCoy has become popular with cross-country motorists, but also with Arizonans looking for a staycation close to downtown Tucson. Some of them leave with a piece of local art or a lot of Instagram photos, but an attentive staff makes sure everyone takes home good memories. “We like to promote kindness,” Lopez says. “And we want people to have fun here.”
720 W. Silverlake Road