Prickly Pear Inn – Cave Creek, Arizona

Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography by Bryan Black

In the days of old, hotels were as much a part of the landscape as outlaws and dusty trails. Built alongside stagecoach stops and train depots, they offered a respite from the dust and heat, along with a clean bath and a soft bed.

Today, in a town where horses still share the roadways, Cave Creek’s Prickly Pear Inn is carrying on the tradition of Old West hospitality. The rooms may be bigger and far more comfortable than they were a century ago, but the idea of creating a cozy respite in the desert is the same.

“When we saw this meandering Mexican-style property, we thought it would be a beautiful place for a boutique hotel,” said owner Paul Morina. He and wife Cherie set out to do just that.

The result is Prickly Pear Inn and the adjoining Grumpy Ole Mule Mercantile, which opened doors the day after Thanksgiving. Turns out, they are just what Cave Creek needed.

The hotel’s 11 upscale, tastefully decorated rooms, each with kitchenettes, large walk-in showers, large screen televisions and unique touches, are the perfect place to relax—right in the middle of all that Cave Creek has to offer. Custom ironwork, granite countertops and local artwork are all part of the ambiance, and it all comes together as something brilliant.

Guest rooms are all on the second story, above the hustle and bustle of the restaurants and shops nearby. Most have private balconies that provide the same mountain view that the U.S. Cavalry soldiers who first stopped here must have eyed in awe. A comfortable shared balcony provides space for all guests to quietly enjoy a glass of wine or to share stories and laughs.

The first-floor mercantile offers a good selection of craft beers and unique wines, as well as fun finds like locally made toffee, funny edible products and Southwest gifts and furniture.

Adding to the delightful mix of retail is Cimarron River Company, which offers high-end Native American jewelry and other one-of-a-kind items, and City Creamery, which has already earned its reputation as the town’s “coolest” hot spot.

For the Morinas, it’s the start of a dream come true. It’s also something they know a thing or two about. The couple, who met while working together at America West Airlines, built a hotel in Sitka, Alaska, alongside the liquor and sundries store they originally purchased. After living in the Valley for several years, they’re once again channeled into what they do best—and folks are catching on.

Prickly Pear Inn has already become a favorite for Cave Creek locals with visiting relatives, and for events like the rodeo. Great reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are starting to bring customers, too. Like everything else that spreads in Cave Creek, the word is starting to get out about this newest little gem of a spot.

Whether guests stay for a night, a week or a month, they’re all treated with the comfort and large room size of a resort, but with the warmth and personalized care of a bed and breakfast.

“We want to appeal to the independent traveler who is looking for a great location and an upscale, comfy place to stay,” said Cherie.

The Morinas are also doing it with the whole town in mind.

“Cave Creek has to be a destination,” said Paul. “Nobody’s going to come up for one business, but they’ll come up if many businesses have something to offer them.”

Ultimately, it’s that recognition that they’re an important, unique part of something bigger that sets Prickly Pear Inn and Grumpy Ole Mule—and most Cave Creek businesses—apart from their Valley counterparts, and it’s that sense of community that so many of us have grown to love. 

For true collectors and others who appreciate genuine works of art, authentic Native American jewelry is a treasure. At Cimarron River Company, each piece is hand-selected for quality and superior design. Talented Native American artists from the Navajo, Apache, Hope and Zuni tribes craft one-of-a-kind jewelry from solid sterling silver and genuine turquoise, coral, spiny oyster, mother of pearl, opal and more.

In addition, Cimarron River Company recently added sterling silver gifts for infants and children, Painted Ponies, horn sofa tables, lamps and decorative Southwestern accessories.

Cimarron River Company

Prickly Pear Inn Plaza

6268 E. Cave Creek Rd.



City Creamery

With homemade, small batched, hand-churned ice cream and waffle cones fresh from the oven, City Creamery opened its doors in January, but is already a local favorite! Flavors like double chocolate orange, salted caramel and huckleberry honey and lavender ice cream bring something special to summertime treats.

The City Creamery’s owners began their frozen adventure in Virginia City and West Yellowstone, Montana. Their Virginia City store caught the eye of National Geographic magazine, which ranked the Virginia City store as one of the nation’s top 10 ice cream spots. AAA Travel Guide also ranked City Creamery as a Best Sweet Spot.

Come see what the fuss is all about! The flavors change regularly, so try them all.

City Creamery

Prickly Pear Inn Plaza

6268 E. Cave Creek Rd.


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