Founded around 1610, Santa Fe is the second oldest city in the U.S., and the only one where many of the original buildings have been preserved. And with strict restrictions placed on downtown building, so that even the majority of new buildings are sympathetic to the original adobe style, Santa Fe has retained its earthy, yet colourful look. A number of the properties recommended on our Guru’s list of the best places to stay in Santa Fe are in the wonderfully atmospheric New Mexico style.
But Santa Fe is definitely not stuck in the past, aside from the wonderful architecture, this city is forward thinking and fun, with a thriving cultural scene, a collection of excellent museums, great restaurants and markets - specialising in turquoise and silver jewellery, textiles, pottery and hand-carved furniture - and a nice line in upmarket retreats - some of which appear on our list of the best places to stay in Santa Fe.
But it’s not just the architecture and the lifestyle in town that draws folk here. At the foot of the Sangre de Cristo range, Santa Fe is surrounded by some incredible countryside, and this is a great place for hikers, bikers and mountain climbers - and in the season, skiers. And all under that incredible bright blue canopy of a sky.
You’ll want to start your Santa Fe explorations in the Plaza, long a dream destination, once for those on the Camino Real from Mexico and then for wagons heading west. This is also where you’ll find a number of Santa Fe’s museums.
Just back from the Plaza is the Georgina O’Keeffe Museum ( she’s known for her dramatic New Mexican landscape paintings), nearby you’ll also find the Palace of the Governors - America’s oldest public building.
Santa Fe also has a wonderful Museum of International Folk Art - the world’s largest collection, and a Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Then of course there are the churches, shrines and the numerous art galleries. If you’re here to buy art, or just like looking, then head to Canyon Road.
If you enjoy opera then you’ll possibly already have been tempted by Santa Fe’s world class opera in its marvellous outdoor theatre.
Just don't forget to plan well ahead if you want to bag a bed in one of the best places to stay in Santa Fe - it's a popular destination year round.
Still not sure which is the best place to stay in Santa Fe for you? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Santa Fe, expand your search to include all of our New Mexico recommendations, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice.
Centrally located elegant hotel. Interiors draw on local crafts with an airy feel: cream walls are adorned with original art, beds have hand-carved and painted headboards, some rooms have fireplaces and sitting areas. Romantic dining outside at La Plazuela and rooftop bar with views over Santa Fe.
Cosy and authentically New Mexican inn at the heart of Santa Fe. All modern conveniences are provided while maintaining an ambiance that is steeped in tradition, with adobe walls, locally crafted furnishings and exquisite regional food. Pets and children are welcomed and there is an eco-emphasis.
Large inn with traditional adobe exterior and lavish orient-inspired interior. A kaleidoscopic explosion of colours, fabrics, tiles, patterns and mosaics sourced from Tibet, India and New Mexico makes each room resemble a treasure trove. Mountain views, full-service spa and gym, off-site restaurant.
High-altitude hideaway guest ranch with traditional details. Interiors have light stucco walls, kiva fireplaces, wood beams, large windows, plush beds. Dinner is served in candlelight with classical guitar accompaniment. Infinity pool with view of Jemez Mts, tennis court and horse stable on-site.