Checking in at most hotels, a guest is lucky to receive a bottle of water. If a visitor is spending a lot on a suite or has attained a top tier in a frequent stay program, maybe there will be a fruit basket waiting in the room. One exception is Doubletree hotels, which provide their signature chocolate chip cookies in an edible act of hospitality. In Phoenix, the Rise Uptown Hotel has created its own approach to making arriving guests feel welcome: a complimentary popsicle. Fortunately, those popsicles are also available for any to purchase, hotel guest or not.
The popsicles are sold in a shop called Pop Stand, which is really just another name for the hotel’s small lobby. The check-in desk at this recently renovated hotel is in the center of the room with a small boutique selling vinyl records and artsy gifts from local merchants on one side and freezer cases full of frozen treats on the other. The hotel is on the north side of Camelback Road between the light rail stations at Central/Camelback and 7th Avenue/Camelback. A convenient bike rack is found right outside the entry to the hotel lobby and popsicle shop.
The popsicles are produced by the same kitchen that serves the hotel’s poolside restaurant, Lylo Swim Club, and are strongly influenced by the Mexican tradition of paletas, frozen treats on a stick that incorporate fresher ingredients than most mass produced popsicles. This often means chunks of actual fruit rather than just a fruit flavoring or puree. The selection changes daily but always incorporates a mix of three categories: fruity, dairy, and boozy, all of which are self-explanatory, although with some of the flavors there can be crossover between types.
The fruity category is populated by non-dairy creations with fruit flavors in the forward position. That can include simple, one-flavor popsicles like blackberry, but more often it involves combinations of complementary tastes such as coconut and lime or watermelon and mint. A recent fruit salad popsicle pushed the boundaries of just how many fruits could fit in one treat with bits of kiwi, pineapple, blackberry, and watermelon all coexisting in a single frozen block. Mangonada adds a bit of spice and salt to offset the sweetness of the popular tropical fruit.
The dairy section of the menu includes classics like fresas con cream with slices of strawberry or mango lassi with yogurt. A chai popsicles incorporates the familiar Indian mix of spices used to season tea. Horchata takes a similar approach but with influences from the popular Mexican drink. Alcohol-fueled popsicles are basically frozen versions of classic fruity cocktails such as a whisky sour or a piña colada. For the most part, these desserts echo the output of the bar across the driveway at Lylo Swim Club, with a wooden stick replacing a glass for service.
The rotating selection may also include seasonal specials reflecting the kitchen’s creativity or even an occasional mystery flavor. Staff will divulge the secret if requested, but if there are no allergy concerns, it’s more fun to savor the popsicle for a few minutes while trying to discern its essence. During the recent holiday season, the clues led to gingerbread, a nicely spiced take on a winter classic. Pop Stand isn’t a conventional hotel lobby shop, but Rise isn’t a conventional hotel. Even if a guest is local and not checking into the hotel, Pop Stand is worth checking out.
400 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix AZ 85013