Technically, some of the best Albuquerque hotels are not in Albuquerque. A beautiful rural inn, based around a home by a star early-20th-century architect, is out in Los Ranchos near the river, and farther still, the pueblo-run Hyatt Tamaya in the suburb of Bernalillo, has a resort feel even though it’s on the edge of the city. But you can sleep well closer to the action, too, in historic hotels near Central in downtown and Old Town. One is in the glamorous, railway-era mode and another conjures a slightly kitschy Route 66 style, for instance. Refreshingly, rates are quite reasonable, even for the best beds—only the Hyatt Tamaya (the pueblo resort) occasionally cracks the $250 barrier, and the other hotels labeled "Expensive" here are typically just under $200. And some of the best places to stay in Albuquerque are bed and breakfasts. Whether in a cozy old adobe home or in a comfortable bungalow, you get a real sense of residential life in Albuquerque—fortunately without most of the frills and lace commonly associated with these accommodations. On the low end, things can go terribly, terribly wrong. Route 66 is lined with the ruins of the more glamorous road-tripping time, now seedy shells that are best avoided no matter how alluring the neon out front. Fortunately, there’s one solid exception (and really, you only need one), and we review it here, along with a couple of more generic but still quite serviceable options.
In what has proved an excellent partnership, San Juan Pueblo provides the space, beautiful setting and aesthetic inspiration for this resort, while Hyatt provides the expertise. The resort has consistently been rated one of the best places to stay in New Mexico, for its excellent service and the way it works in the native culture, from the fragrant piñon smoke in the air to nighttime storytelling programs with pueblo members. The drawback is that it’s far from the center of Albuquerque—about 45 minutes on the freeway, though you could take the scenic route through Corrales. It’s also just a little bit too enthralling—once you’re here, staring at the mountains from your private patio and considering which of the three pools you want to dip in first, you might not want to go out. But then again, many travelers come here to do just that.
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Set on the largest patch of farmland in the Albuquerque metro area, Los Poblanos feels like a rural retreat. The core buildings of the inn were built in the WPA era by celebrated architect John Gaw Meem (who also designed the University of New Mexico), with adobe walls, brick floors and beautifully carved wood throughout. Guests reap the benefits of the surrounding farmland, with fresh organic eggs at breakfast (the farm operates as a CSA--Community Supported Agriculture) and the scent of lavender from the fields in front of the house. You could easily spend a good part of your vacation just wandering the gardens and public rooms, decorated by some of the state’s finest artists in the 1930s.
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Two neighboring houses in the hip EDo (East Downtown) area make up this meticulously maintained B&B. The four rooms in the Heritage House have a Victorian feel, to go with the vintage of the house, complete with a turret. The details are applied with a light hand, so rooms still feel spacious and light, rather than spooky dark—but even so, if you prefer a sparer aesthetic, opt for Spy House next door, an Arts and Crafts bungalow where the rooms have more a 1940s look. Most rooms have private baths; two in the Heritage House adjoin a single bathroom, which can be handy for families. There are perks like fridges stocked with free drinks, and the location is great—residential without being out of the loop, so you can still walk to restaurants in the evening.
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Out amid the rambling fields of Corrales, this old adobe house has just one guest room, plus a larger guest house that’s good for a family. But it gives you a fine sense of place, starting with the warm welcome you get from host Alfred. He’s happy to show you the American Indian ruins on the property, as well as the nearby acequia, or irrigation ditch—part of the system set up by early Spanish settlers, using technology they’d learned from the Arabs. The glassed-in patio is a wonderful place to take breakfast, especially on a clear winter day.
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Just across the river from the Albuquerque BioPark, the Sandia Peak Inn isn’t technically in Old Town, but it’s awfully close. In fact, better not to tell Albuquerqueans that you’re staying in the South Valley—it conjures images of a less hospitable part of the city. But the area this newly built motel is in is perfectly nice, if a bit lined with chain restaurants. The motel itself has big, well-kept rooms with fridges, microwaves and free wireless Internet. There’s a small indoor pool—not the greatest, but still a deal at this rate, one of the best in town without going into flea-bag territory (rooms are usually about $60 in the summer). A perk for food fiends: Just up the street, toward the river, is the Ranch Market, a gargantuan emporium of Mexican foods—you could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in the food court here.
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