Just two short blocks from the plaza in Old Town, Böttger Mansion (110 San Felipe St. NW, 505/243-3639, www.bottger.com, $159 d) is the epitome of Victorian, inside (flower prints and lace) and out (pink with white trim). The lavish Stephanie Lynn room features a giant bath lit by a chandelier, while the snug Molly Jane, with two twin beds, has a great view of the mountain and a clawfoot bathtub; it’s ideal for friends traveling together.
Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town (800 Rio Grande Blvd. NW, 505/843-6300, www.hotelabq.com, $209 d) got a facelift in 2005; it’s a little pricey, though rates are much lower when booked online, and the location is handy. The brick-red-and-beige rooms are relatively spacious. Opt for the north side (generally, even-numbered rooms) for a view of the mountains.
You can save a bit by heading out of the main tourist areas. On the north side of town, Nativo Lodge (6000 Pan American Fwy. NE, 505/798-4300, www.nativolodge.com, $179 d) is conveniently situated only for the Balloon Fiesta or an early start to Santa Fe, but once you’re inside, it’s very nice (it’s under the same management as Hotel Albuquerque). The place was completely overhauled in 2005, with new pillow-top beds, sepia-tone decor, and a dramatic lobby and atrium. Definitely get a room in the back, so you’re not overlooking I-25, and try to book online, where the rates can drop by nearly half.
The historic former La Posada de Albuquerque (125 2nd St. NW) is Conrad Hilton’s first hotel and the city’s only remaining relic of early 20th-century travel. Its lobby alone, filled with murals and big wood bar, is worth a visit. It was undergoing a much-needed renovation (and name change, to Andaluz) as of press time—do check if it has reopened by the time you’re reading this, as it’s potentially the best place to stay in the city, with its combination of location and atmosphere.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition