Physically, Ghost Ranch in Santa Fe (401 Old Taos Hwy., 505/821-5145, www.ghostranch.org, $90 s, $100 d), an extension of the Abiquiu Presbyterian retreat center, has all the charm of a 1970s public elementary school, but you can’t beat the location just a few blocks off the plaza. If the place isn’t booked with a group, you’re welcome to stay in one of the small but perfectly comfortable rooms. A full breakfast is included.
Leaving aside its location, El Rey Inn (1862 Cerrillos Rd., 505/982-1931, www.elreyinnsantafe.com, $125 d), about two miles from the plaza, counts as one of the best lodgings in Santa Fe based on charm alone. Built in 1935, the motel has been meticulously kept up and adjusted for modern standards of comfort, with beautiful gardens, a hot tub, a big swimming pool, and a fireside open-air whirlpool tub. The 86 rooms, spread over 4.5 acres, vary considerably in style (and in price), from the oldest section with snug adobe walls and heavy viga ceilings to airier rooms with balconies, so ask to see a few before you choose. Rooms at the back of the property are preferable because of noise from busy Cerrillos Road.
In a similar vein, Stage Coach Motor Inn (3360 Cerrillos Rd., 505/471-0707, $100 d) dates from the 1940s, and its 14 rooms around a gravel drive are furnished with lots of pine paneling and vintage oddities such as petrified-wood coffee tables. It’s a bit cheaper and feels more intimate than El Rey.
Santa Fe Motel & Inn (510 Cerrillos Rd., 800/930-5002, www.santafemotel.com, $124 d) is a good budget bet closer to the center, with rooms done up in simple, bright decor that avoids motel sameness despite the generic motor-court layout. A few kitchenettes are available, along with some more private casitas with fireplaces. Lots of nice touches—such as bread from the Sage Bakehouse across the street along with the full breakfast—give the place a homey feel without the tight quarters of a typical bed-and-breakfast.
With 12 rooms in an old adobe, plus an adjacent Victorian with two suites, El Paradero B&B (220 W. Manhattan St., 505/988-1177, www.elparadero.com, $110 d) has a variety of room configurations that can suit families, solo travelers, and friends traveling together. Upstairs rooms have balconies, and a few others have fireplaces.
East of the plaza, twin bed-and-breakfasts under the same ownership offer two kinds of style.
The rooms at Hacienda Nicholas (320 E. Marcy St., 505/986-1431, www.haciendanicholas.com, $145 d) have a tasteful Southwest flavor, decorated with a few cowboy trappings and Gustave Baumann prints; two of the rooms have fireplaces.
Madeleine Inn (106 Faithway St., 505/982-3465, www.madeleineinn.com, $150 d) is set in a towering wood Victorian, but the guest rooms aren’t lacy—they’re done in rich Balinese fabrics and antiques. There’s also a good day spa and organic tea room on the premises.
If you’re planning a longer stay, or just want somewhere with a kitchen, look into Alexander’s Inn (529 E. Palace Ave., 505/986-1431, www.alexanders-inn.com, $210 d), a bit farther east. One cottage apartment has a full kitchen and a beautiful loft sleeping area; there’s another casita adjacent with the same amenities, as well as two more full apartments a few blocks away. Wherever you stay, you get plush perks such as robes and slippers; breakfast is a continental spread, but that doesn’t mean you’ll go away hungry—the banana bread is fantastic.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition