The courtyard at the Inn on the Alameda offers a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of Santa Fe's downtown activities.
The Inn of the Anasazi, one block off Santa Fe's historic Plaza, is one of the city's most luxurious properties, with rooms ranging from $309 per night to a spacious suite that includes a dining room and fireplace that goes for $2,149.

Santa Fe Stories: Finding a Room at the Inn

There are rooms a plenty in the city - find the one that fits your taste and budget

By TERRY MATHEWS, News-Telegram Arts Editor

August 20, 2008 - Whether you're travelling like Donald Trump or working within a tight budget, you can find a place to lay your head in historic Santa Fe, New Mexico.

According to Santa Fe Convention and Tourism Bureau, the "City Different" attracts between 1.2 and 1.4 million visitors each year, with April through October being the high season.

There are scads of places to stay outside the city's historic district. Every national chain on the planet has property there.

If you stay somewhere other than downtown, however, you have to deal with the issue of parking. Unless you are the first one in line when the public parking lots open, you'll be hard pressed to find a place to park during the day. That's why staying in a downtown hotel with parking access is a good idea, and that's why it's going to cost you more than a night at the Holiday Inn.

La Fonda's restaurant, La Plazuela, offers one of Santa Fe's most beautiful dining experiences.
View of a mini-suite at Garrett's Desert Inn. Rooms are available from $69 to $179 per night at this long-time Santa Fe favorite.

When my love affair with Santa a Fe began in 1982, you could find a room downtown for about $29 a night. Those days are long gone.

Now, the historic district is full of boutique hotels, including the Inn of the Anasazi, which is located at 113 Washington, just one block off the city's famous plaza.

The hotel offers 58 rooms and deluxe suites, complete with flat- screen TVs and kiva fireplaces, at a rate of $309 to $2,149 per day. Parking costs $17 per day, plus the valet tip each time he fetches your wheels.

It's a beautiful property, with a gourmet restaurant, but it's certainly at the high end of most people's discretionary budgets. Also at the higher end of the pay scale is the historic La Fonda Hotel.

The "grande dame" of the city's hotels, La Fonda offers 167 rooms, ranging from $219 to $339 per night, with an online rate of $159, if booked through the hotel's website, lafondasantefe.com.

If you choose not to stay at La Fonda, you should at least visit the hotel's lobby. It's a beautiful glimpse into New Mexico's rich heritage.

La Plazuela, the hotel's restaurant, has been called "one of the most beautiful dining rooms in town."

I've eaten at La Plazuela on many occasions and have enjoyed the New Mexican flavors. There may be better restaurants in town, but the setting alone is worth your time and money.

For the more modest budget, you might try the Inn on the Alameda.

Located at the corner of Paseo de Peralta and East Alameda, this little boutique hotel has on-site, self parking (no valet fees), 71 rooms and suites and offers a nice breakfast buffet with each room. Rates range from $125 to $245, depending on the type of room and the time of year.

In spite of the many choices, my favorite Santa Fe property is still Garrett's Desert Inn. I've made this 1956 motel my home-away-from-home since the first time I visited the city.

The motel is located about 2 blocks from the Plaza. It has on-site, self-parking right at the door. The rooms are large and were updated several years ago. Bathroom windows open onto a small running creek. The closet and dressing area is huge. The staff is friendly and accommodating.

But, best of all, the rates at Garrett's run from $69 to $179 per night. There's a nice little bakery on the premises. There's a great pizza place about 20 steps away. What more could you need?

The historic district of Santa Fe offers lots of options when it comes to lodging. Enjoy!

Inn of the Anasazi: 113 Washington Avenue - 800-688-8100. www.innoftheanasazi.com

La Fonda: 100 East San Francisco - 800-523-5002. www.lafondasantafe.com

Inn on the Alameda: 303 E. Alameda - 888-984-2121. www.innonthealameda.com

Garrett's Desert Inn: 311 Old Santa Fe Trail - 800-888-2145. www.garrettsdesertinn.com

Editor's note: Terry Mathews has just returned from a few days in Santa Fe. This is the first of several items on the city, its art and the world-famous Santa Fe Opera.

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