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Did You Know: The Arizona Biltmore Has A Mystery Room

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 - 2:14pm
Updated: Monday, April 27, 2020 - 1:39pm

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The speakeasy used during prohibition at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix
Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
The speakeasy used during prohibition at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

There is a quiet room with dim lights, and only a handful of people have access to it. It’s called the Mystery Room and right here in Phoenix.

Finding the Mystery Room requires a bit of guidance. To enter you must have a password. Did You Know a speakeasy at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix has reopened after 80 years?

“I’ll take you in the main door, but you’ll see once we get inside there are quite a few so that people could escape when they needed to during prohibition in case of a raid," said the Biltmore's Sarah Moran.

With password in hand, we walk in. We are greeted by the bartender.

"Hello, welcome. Good Evening. Did you catch tonight’s password?" he asked. "If you get confused listen to the music play. Yes that’s right."

The speakeasy first opened in 1929. At that time, it was used as the men’s smoking room — wink, wink.

Mystery Room entrance
Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/KJZZ
The hallway that leads to the Mystery Room entrance. It's that door to the left.

On this night, the lights were dimmed and music plays in the background. Wooden tables and chairs designed by Frank Lloyd Wright are set against a wall. An ornate fireplace adorns another wall, and about 15 feet above are small windows.

“That’s where we use to have a staff member on the roof, and he would watch for the police and as they were coming down the six mile dirt road, because at the time there was nothing else around this property," Moran explained. "He would shine the light inside, and everyone would disseminate into their rooms. They’d know the police were coming.”

Moran points to four doors placed throughout the room. Each one leads to what was either a sitting area or a hallway. That is where the men escaped before police arrived. She said this became known as the Mystery Room. because wives and children often wondered about where the men would disappear to.

After Prohibition ended in 1933, the speakeasy and the rooms behind the getaway doors were converted into office space. But, just last summer the hotel decided to bring the Mystery Room back to life.

Every Sunday guests arrive, give the password and buy a cocktail. Every week there is a new secret code. It’s posted on Twitter or you can ask the concierge.

But I suggest you get directions because the Mystery Room is not easy to find.

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