A bohemian retreat in artistic Santa Fe
Santa Fe’s La Fonda on the Plaza is perfectly located for strolling the City Different’s charming shop-surrounded square, and the hotel itself is a historic landmark. Though it’s recently undergone renovations including new carpeting, card-activated locks, better sound insulation in rooms and an extended rooftop bar and terrace, La Fonda’s décor still speaks to the bohemian, artistic Santa Fe Style of the ’20s and ’30s, right in the heart of this world-class destination.
Hoping to promote railway tourism, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway built La Fonda in 1922, and leased the property to the Fred Harvey Company in 1926. The current owners, the Ballen family, purchased it in 1968. However, this storied corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and East San Francisco streets has had some manner of fonda (inn) since the Spanish arrival in the 1600s. Located at the end of the Santa Fe Trail, for centuries it's been a gathering place for locals, the trail tired and eccentric characters. When Capt. William Becknell blazed the Santa Fe Trail trading route from Missouri to Santa Fe in 1821, they found an inn here waiting for them. After American occupation of New Mexico in 1846, trappers, traders, cowboys, prospectors, soldiers, gamblers and a motley crew of others gathered here to trade stories and drinks.
Of La Fonda’s 179 rooms, 55 are original to the 1922 hotel. Each room celebrates Santa Fe Style with hand-carved wooded headboards, roof-supporting vigas (beams), plastered walls, original local art, wood-and-leather furniture and tables decorated with hand-carved Southwestern accents, many of them original pieces. Keurig coffee makers, Gilchrist & Soames amenities, safes, refrigerators, iPod docks and flat-screen TVs are all standard.
In the lobby and throughout the hotel, more than $2 million in historic art graces the walls of La Fonda, including murals by Santa Fe artist-colony member Gerald Cassidy. Called the “Living Room of Santa Fe,” plush leather furniture invites visitors to relax. Shops selling Western wear and art are located off the lobby, and guests and locals alike love La Fiesta Lounge that often features live cowboy music. Sunlit La Plazuela restaurant is known for its Southwestern and New Mexican chile dishes, as well as its hand-painted windows. A small full-service spa featuring its Santa Fe Stone Therapy and Pumpkin Spice Body Scrub and Wrap is available downstairs, or in-room treatments can be arranged. A courtyard pool and hot tub looks up into the famous turquoise Santa Fe sky. The Bell Tower lounge with new dinner service affords arguably the best view in town of Santa Fe’s sunsets.