There’s been an inn on the southeast corner of the Santa Fe Plaza for over 400 years. The Four Diamond La Fonda on the Plaza, the grand dame of Santa Fe's hotels, has been on this corner since the early 1920s.
In 2013, the hotel had both a facelift and an almost compete interior makeover. They have effectively maintained a strong sense of the historic property that Santa Feans and guests have come to love, while also bringing it up-to-date in a manner consistent with the original Harvey House Hotel that opened in 1925.
La Fonda on the Plaza's redone traditional bedrooms are inviting — Photo courtesy of La Fonda on the Plaza
La Fonda sits at the end of the legendary Santa Fe Trail. This arduous route, opened in 1821 between Franklin Missouri to Santa Fe was used by both settlers and traders traveling to New Mexico. When the railroad arrived in the 1880s, making travel faster and easier, the trail fell into disuse.
The 179-room hotel is more than just a comfortable place to spend the night. It’s where locals as well as tourists go to eat, drink, dance and gather.
La Plazuela, the hotel’s restaurant in the enclosed glass-roofed courtyard, has been a place for local power breakfasts for years. They also serve lunch and dinner from a menu combining American and New Mexican dishes.b Check out the 400 hand-painted glass window panes created by former resident artist Ernest Martinez over a 50-year period. Now 80 years old and retired, he creates replicas of the panels that are sold in the hotel’s gift shop.
Western swing dancers in La Fiesta Lounge — Photo courtesy of La Fonda on the Plaza
La Fiesta Lounge offers live music six nights a week. The evenings when the Bill Hearne Trio plays their honky-tonk Western swing are great fun. Couples often dressed in Western swing dancing clothes two-step around the dance floor.
From May to October, visit La Fonda’s renovated and expanded rooftop Bell Tower Bar for one of the best sunset views in town. Sip on their signature Bellringer margarita, made with a splash of jalapeño juice for a bit of Santa Fe spice. After ordering this cocktail, customers are encouraged to announce their order by ringing the bell mounted on the wall
The 165 newly redone guestrooms offer 21st-century luxury while staying true to La Fonda’s historical authenticity and unique character. The hotel staff wanted to embrace the cultural and aesthetic elements that Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter’s original designs brought to the Harvey House-era La Fonda in 1925.
Sit and people watch in La Fonda's historic lobby — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
The renovated guestrooms include some of the historic elements, such as Spanish Colonial colcha-style embroidery, hand-painted headboards done by local artists (many from surrounding pueblos), handcrafted furniture and original Southwestern art. Bathroom tiles – featuring New Mexico-inspired designs including animals, flowers and landscapes – were also painted by local artists.
Energy-efficient casement windows, state-of-the-art temperature controls and sound insulation were added at the time of renovation. They also updated the plumbing, electrical and communication systems as well as resurfaced the building’s stucco exterior. Because of the hotel’s historic status, some historic, cultural and architectural elements had to be preserved.
Checking in at La Fonda on the Plaza — Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
Room amenities include Egyptian cotton sheets; plush, comfortable terrycloth robes; a choice of down or foam pillows; nightly turn-down service; and a lobby concierge.
The 14 rooms and suites on their VIP Terrace floor, which they had previously updated, offer private balconies, spacious bathrooms with separate tubs and showers (Some even have bidets and double sinks.), complimentary breakfast and their own dedicated concierge.
If you’re looking for Santa Fe lodging that offers Santa Fe style combined with a strong sense of the city’s history and updated 21st-century luxury, then La Fonda is certainly for you.