Residence Inn Tempe Downtown/University a great launch pad for your Arizona adventure

My wife and I were in need of a brief staycation one weekend in early summer. As we considered all the spectacular low-demand hotel rates around the Phoenix area, we had no trouble deciding on the Residence Inn Tempe Downtown/University.

We’ve stayed here numerous times since it first opened in 2013 and knew what to expect: a well-appointed, conveniently located, no-frills hotel staffed by friendly and helpful people. Six years after our inaugural stay, it felt as new and clean as the first time.

Note: This review is based on my personal experiences at this property. I booked it on my own and was offered no financial incentive by the hotel to write this review.
Street view of main entrance

While we were hanging out poolside on the rooftop sun deck, it occurred to me: This would be a fabulous place for someone from out of town to stay if they were coming to Arizona for vacation or leisure.

Residence Inn Tempe Downtown/University rooftop sundeck with pool, spa and fire pit.
My favorite feature of the Residence Inn Tempe Downtown/University is the rooftop sundeck with pool, spa and fire pit.
View from rooftop sundeck of Residence Inn Tempe Downtown/University
From the 11th floor rooftop sundeck you get great views of the downtown Tempe and locations beyond. Camelback Mountain is visible in the upper right corner of this pic.

Tip 1: Ask for a north facing room for best views and least sun

As I pondered my pros and cons list while baking in sun on the rooftop pool deck, it quickly became evident the good far outweighs the bad. Below are the lists I came up with.

Advantages of Residence Inn Tempe Downtown/University

  • Free breakfast in the clean, modern and spacious dining area
  • Rooftop pool, hot tub (spa) and sun deck
  • Free wifi throughout the property
  • Clean, quiet, comfortable rooms with contemporary design
  • Kitchenette with coffee maker, full size fridge, microwave, cook top, dishes and dishwasher
  • Fantastic views of the surrounding area from the rooftop and most of the rooms
  • Numerous food and beverage options within walking distance
  • Well-equipped fitness center with inspiring views
  • Hertz car rental available on site

Location is so good it deserves its own section

There’s so much to say about the great location of this property. The hotel is directly across the street from Tempe’s main transit terminal and light rail station and so close to pretty much everything you could want or need while traveling.

Conveniences of the excellent location Residence Inn Tempe Downtown/University location:

  • Short drive, Uber/Lyft or train ride from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport
  • Short walking distance to Sun Devil Stadium, Wells Fargo Arena, restaurants, bars and shops
  • Across the street from transportation hub for light rail train and buses
  • Less than 30 minutes from virtually all stops on the Valley Metro light rail line
  • Tempe is a college town and rideshare and bike/scooter share options are plentiful
  • Two blocks from the Tempe Streetcar line scheduled to open in Spring 2021

FlixBus provides convenient and affordable travel from Tempe to these popular locations in the Southwest:

  • Tucson, AZ
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Palm Springs, CA
  • Many, many more

The FlixBus pickup location is about a half mile from this Residence Inn. Check out the full route map and prices online.

Drawbacks of this property

  • Can be pricey during high demand periods
  • Sound of airplanes overhead (most noticeable on the rooftop)
  • $12 a day to park on site (see tip #4 below)
  • No USB charging ports in room; AC outlets near bed are difficult to access behind nightstands

Tip 2: Summer = savings. When temperatures rise, prices fall.

As with many hotels, pricing is very sensitive to demand. Since it’s right on the edge of Arizona State University (ASU) campus, demand is greatly influenced by the school calendar and events. Prices spike from college move-in week through Thanksgiving break.

We once did a family Thanksgiving weekend staycation here on the cheap. The close proximity to numerous malls and retailers helped my wife and daughters get the greatest bang for their bucks for Black Friday shopping – behavior I don’t condone. 🙂

Rates during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday are hard to predict. It largely depends on which teams make it into the college bowl game played nearby.

High demand persists mid-January through ASU graduation in May. Then bargain season begins.

Tip 3: Begin your adventure across the street

If hiking and the outdoors is your thing, hit the trail to the top of “A” Mountain across the street to the north. It’s a short, exhilarating hike with spectacular views of Tempe Town Lake and the Valley of the Sun.

Hike “A” Mountain and see if you can spot:

  • Authentic 700+ year-old petroglyphs on the array of boulders just off trail
  • Camelback Mountain to the northwest
  • Papago Buttes in the foreground of Camelback (you need to see these up close too)
  • Piestewa Peak to the northwest (2nd highest in Phoenix behind Camelback)
  • Superstition Mountains directly east of A Mountain
  • Four Peaks on the eastern horizon, and a little north
  • San Tan Mountains to the southeast
  • South Mountain transmission towers to the southwest

I’ll let the pics do the rest of the talking.

Kitchenette with coffee maker, full size fridge, microwave, cook top, dishes and dishwasher
On site shuttle available.
Business center allows you to print boarding passes, access the internet and pick up info about Arizona adventures.
Small selection of sundries available in the hotel lobby. Larger marketplace across 5th Street to the north.
The spacious lobby area is a comfortable place to collaborate or have a little personal time.
Well-equipped fitness center looks out to the pool and sundeck.

Tip #4: If you’re stay is over the weekend and you’re parking a car in the garage, decline the garage parking upon check in. Why? Every time we’ve stayed here they leave the parking garage gates up all weekend so you can come and go without paying.

Whether you’re planning to stay several days in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun, or just need a place to crash before (or after) exploring the Grand Canyon State, you should keep the Residence Inn by Marriott Tempe Downtown/University on your short list. I’ve stayed here numerous times and have repeatedly been impressed with the quality, service and amenities. And the location is hard to beat.

Ready to book? Start here>

Questions? Fire away in the comment box below.

Here’s a map to the Residence Inn Tempe Downtown/University:

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