The Hotel St. Francis lays claim to being Santa Fe’s oldest hotel. Rebuilt in its current location in 1924, after a fire left its predecessor completely ravaged (save the brick chimney), the property formerly known as the De Vargas Hotel played host to elegant ladies and gentlemen in top hats, politicos, and other VIPs during its heyday. After World War II, the hotel lost some of its luster, though it was still popular with government types until the 1960s. In 1986, new owners restored the hotel to its previous grandeur, replaced the barber and beauty shops with a restaurant and bar, and gave the property its current name. Most recently, in 2008, the property was purchased by Heritage Hotels and Resorts and underwent yet another makeover. Inspired by St. Francis, the patron saint of Santa Fe and founder of the Franciscan order, the look is best described as haute-monastic. Think Frette linens and flat-screen televisions paired with neutral hues, wood furnishings crafted by local artisans, and dim, candlelit common spaces.
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A block from the central Santa Fe Plaza, the hotel is within easy walking distance of the shops, restaurants, museums, and bars of downtown Santa Fe. Café Pascal serves up local fare with a New Mexico–by-way-of-Berkeley twist, but for more authentic flavor, try The Shed, an institution since 1953. Cultural highlights include the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.
Need to Know
Rooms: 180 rooms. From $159. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The Tabla de Los Santos Restaurant, run by chef Clay Bordan, serves regionally inspired dishes like green chili braised short ribs. But the main draw is the Secreto Lounge and its mixologist-crafted, garden-to-glass cocktails such as the Spicy Secreto—cachaça, St. Germain, fresh cucumber, jalapeño, lime juice, and cane syrup rimmed with red chili salt. Spa and gym details: There is a fitness center, but no spa.
Who's it for: The hotel caters to a stylish, cosmopolitan, and often international crowd drawn to the minimalist aesthetic and prime location. Our favorite rooms: While there are two types of rooms, Standard and Deluxe, each is unique. If you’re after more elbow room, opt for the latter, as rooms and bathrooms tend to be on the smaller side. A place to unwind:The hotel loggia, or patio, is one of the best spots in town for people watching.