La Fonda on the Plaza

100 E San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA

With its historic pueblo-inspired architecture and Spanish Revival style, this landmark Santa Fe hotel looks like it dates back much earlier than 1922, when it was designed by two of the area’s top architects: Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter and John Gaw Meem. And, in fact, despite the imposing building’s relative youth, the legacy of La Fonda dates back to the 1600s. An inn or hotel has stood on this site since the city’s founding at the end of the Santa Fe Trail.

Now, as one of the city’s most iconic luxury hotels, it presides over the historic Plaza and boasts some of the best views of the city and surrounding mountains and desert. Thanks to a complete (and completely faithful) renovation in 2013, rooms are now bright and airy, outfitted with handcrafted furnishings, local artwork and textiles, energy-efficient casement windows, and all the luxuries expected of a modern grande dame. The fine-dining courtyard restaurant is one of the most romantic dining destinations in town—trumped only by the rooftop Bell Tower Bar, whose sunset views and margarita menu draw locals and in-the-know visitors alike. Throw in a heated outdoor pool (open year-round, a rarity in Santa Fe) and a decadent spa, and it’s no wonder that La Fonda has maintained its reputation for superlative hospitality for so long.

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A Venerable, Classic Institution

Yes, it’s big and bustling, but this classic pueblo-style landmark (it opened in 1922) is a perfect place to rest your weary head. Designed by the visionary female architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, the 180 rooms were recently renovated to maintain the authentic Southwestern look and feel. Think handcrafted furniture and painted headboards. For the full Santa Fe experience, request a room with a cozy fireplace or balcony. In the early evenings, retreat upstairs to the well-traversed Bell Tower Bar for a light snack and a margarita.

Great Place to Stay!

I have stayed at La Fonda on three occasions, in 2003, 2007 and 2011. Each time I felt welcomed and wanted to come back. The location is very nearly perfect, being situated right on the Plaza in the heart of the city. Leave your car in the convenient parking garage and explore on foot! The year-round heated pool and spa is a big attraction, and there are plenty of dining options in the hotel or a short walk nearby. I will be back!

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