The Hotel Congress, built in 191, is located in the heart of downtown Tucson, Arizona. Although the name suggests so, this is not only a hotel. Hotel Congress also offers fun nightlife/bars, dining, and event hosting. It is known as the landmark hotel with modern charm, and that's exactly what it is. This establishment welcomes people of all ages with events for everyone including festivals, live music, dining, and many more. Hotel Congress strives to give its visitors a unique and authentic Tucson experience. Their unsurpassed hospitality for every guest, every time is what makes this historical place stand out.
The hotel officially opened its doors in 1919 and was in full swing to help service Tucson's railroads. In 1934, the hotel suffered from a historically unforgettable fire that destroyed everything all the way up to the third floor. Richard and Shana Oseran purchased the hotel in 1985 and believe it's the first, longest operating hotel in Tucson with the same exact business environment since the early 1900s. Hotel Congress has become a cultural hub for downtown Tucson and celebrated its 100th year of operation in 2018. The hotel was built as lodging for people arriving and departing on the Southern Pacific Railroad. Visitors would come to the Hotel during the Winter months to escape the cold just as they do today. After all of its years being open it was added to the National Historic Register in 2003!
The hotel is known for being the place of capture of the famed bank robber John Dillinger and his gang in 1934. The notorious criminals were hiding out there after a series of robberies. When they checked into the hotel, they entered under aliases. During their stay, they were warned of a fire and escaped by aerial ladders. They almost got away with it until they asked a fireman to get their luggage where he spotted their names. They were then arrested and taken to jail. Today, annual events highlight Tucson's history during Dillinger Days and Agave Heritage Week that encompasses its rich cultural ties between Mexico and Tucson in regards to art, culture, food, and agave-based spirits.
The New and Improved Hotel Congress:
From the narrow doorways, windy staircases, and the creaking floorboards, Hotel Congress is a masterpiece in and of itself. Hotel Congress truly reflects Tucson history and its local art.
Each bedroom is different from the next. There are 40 bedrooms and each now has their own bathroom. Before the fire in 1934, the hotel used community style restrooms for the guests. The hotel is also updated with Wifi and has a more modernized look. There's a high demand on reserving a room for tourists who want an authentic experience of Tucson where almost every weekend is booked but starting prices are as low as $89 per night.
Before Club Congress was their main form of entertainment, the hotel had a restaurant there in its place. People lived in the hotel year-round and there used to be a cowgirl clothing store along with a bookstore. Now, those stores were transformed into The Cup Cafe in the early 90s.
Club Congress was created in 1985, and became the first nightclub in downtown Tucson and is now the oldest nightclub west of the Mississippi because it still books live music. Every week, the nightclub had a different theme including their annual, extravagant Halloween parties. In 2005 the Governor of Arizona created HOCO fest to honor Hotel Congress and Club Congress, where every year they have live music and more!
The Cup Cafe is a local favorite with award-winning food that has home-style meals with a fresh spin. Tucson is known for gastronomy and try to use local products as often as possible. Other than the food the Cup Cafe welcomes you with penny floors, and a John Dillinger themed menu.
Hotel Congress is also home of the "Tap Room", "The Cyber, and "The Hotel Lobby Bar". Each of these bars adds to the hotel's unique culture by presenting original drawings throughout. The Tap Room in specific hosts an extravagant all wood bar. This spot serves as a home to many locals and has created hometown vibes for visitors. The Tap Room was recently renamed "Tiger's Tap Room" in honor of a long time bartender who has worked there since 1959. Thomas Ziegler or more popularly known as Tiger, age 85, works Monday through Thursday during the day.
Their 100th-year celebration will have a blast off event by putting the stage on the patio while also changing their rooftop sign that usually faces the Freeway.
Over the course of the years, Hotel Congress now hosts
Weddings - 2017's Couples Choice on "Wedding Wire"
Bar/ Bat Mitzvahs
They also have plans to add a Plaza Amphitheatre in the next 2 years expanding their entertainment portfolio as well as expanding their outside food and beverage area and some employees and ownership have plans for a third-floor Speakeasy addition.
Fun Facts about Hotel Congress:
- According to owner Shana Oseran, "ghosts" are present in about four to six rooms in the hotel, they have an annual broadway festival, alcohol tasting such as tequila drinks, New Year's Mayan show, underwear parties, and many more. People donate buffalo heads and Canadian pennies.
- "When people check-in, they are handed ear plugs because we are a noisy hotel," said Robert Oseran.
- Copper Hall holds banquets and other events while KXCI's community station is next door holding the window view of the hotel for live entertainment.
- The Tap Room was the first bar that opened since the prohibition and most employees have been working at the hotel for more than 25 years.
- There were five different places where the stage was placed in the club and the hotel has its very own "Hall of Frame" which is a wall of every article written about the Hotel Congress including Playboy, Tucson Weekly, Arizona Daily Star, National Geographic, Men's Journal, Esquire, and Rolling Stones.
- The Hotel Congress is the greenest workplace in Arizona and has solar panels on its roof.
- Shana can't stand when people tear down structures and believes if you don't know your history, you don't know your future so that is why the authenticity of the hotel is kept to be as original as possible.
- The main form of advertising the hotel gets is from word of mouth and being on the historic registry. "We've had guests who fell in love there and returned to the hotel with their children years later to show them their love story," said Shana.
- Offer an online shop for Hotel Congress themed clothing and gifts.
Thanks to Shana and Richard Oseran and Todd Hanley from Hotel Congress who provided the information above. Additional thanks to hotelcongress.com