New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment – no surprise for those of us who truly appreciate this magical southwestern destination. “Enchanting” is an apt description for La Fonda in Santa Fe.
“Dancing Ground of the Sun” is the name early Indigenous inhabitants gave Santa Fe. Frontiersman at the turn of the 20th century referred to it as “The City Different” and the moniker stuck.
Santa Fe lives up to these descriptions at every turn. Though it’s New Mexico’s capital, the city reflects much more of a small-town feel unparalleled for its rich history, heritage, arts, culture and cuisine.
To soak in the true spirit of Santa Fe, a stay at historic La Fonda in Santa Fe is a perfect introduction. Tasteful modern conveniences blend effortlessly with warm, authentic New Mexican décor at this vibrant and eclectic boutique hotel.
Visitors won’t find a better location either since La Fonda is Santa Fe’s only hotel situated on the Plaza with stunning views of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. It’s an ideal headquarters to explore the culture and wonderments of this fascinating city.
La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe
La Fonda in Santa Fe’s history dates back to the early 1600s when the city of Santa Fe was founded by Spanish settlers. The hotel’s original building was constructed in 1607 as a Spanish inn; over the centuries the site was used as a family home, a courthouse, and a mercantile store before becoming a hotel in 1922. The property sits on the location of the town’s first inn, making La Fonda the oldest hotel corner in America.
In 1925, the hotel was purchased by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and underwent a major renovation turning it into a luxurious accommodation. The renovation was overseen by architect John Gaw Meem, known for his work in the Pueblo Revival style of architecture. Meem’s designs, along with renowned architect Mary Colter’s immense talent, incorporated traditional Pueblo Indian and Spanish Colonial motifs, and the hotel quickly became a popular destination for travelers seeking a taste of the Southwest.
The company then leased the property to Fred Harvey, a gentleman renowned for his keen sense of hospitality. Harvey introduced his own personal touch making the inn a Harvey House, a hotel chain noted for its high standards, fine dining and the signature “Harvey Girls,” a staff of exceptionally well-trained waitresses.
Authentic elements of the La Fonda on the Plaza hotel include impressive hand carved beams, stained glass skylights and a 25-foot cathedral ceiling creating a romantic aura unique to La Fonda’s history.
Over the years, La Fonda has played host to many famous guests including John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Robert Redford. The hotel has also been featured in numerous films and shows including “Easy Rider” and Travel Channels “Mysteries at the Hotel.”
Today, La Fonda in Santa Fe is a designated member of the Historic Hotels of America and still one of the city’s most popular hotels, distinguished by its central location in the heart of the historic district and its lovely accommodations.
La Fonda on the Plaza Hotel
Historic guest rooms and suites feature authentic New Mexican craftmanship with hand-painted headboards, furnishings and an impressive amount of original artwork, much of it from Native American artists.
Over 29 different room types here range from traditional and deluxe to suite guest rooms offering plus queen, two-queens, or double beds.
Located at the private east end of the property, the newly renovated Terrace Inn at La Fonda offers lavish rooms and suites that blend minimalistic clean lines with cultural elements and original art unique to the region.
Personally, I love the historic rooms because of the elegant yet simplistic New Mexican décor and comfortable, tranquil, cozy feel. Many rooms offer stunning views of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis Assisi or the Loretto Chapel and the sunlit mountainside. Some deluxe accommodations even have fireplaces and/or balconies. Dog-friendly rooms are also available.
La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, NM
Like many upscale hotels, La Fonda on the Plaza offers the standard amenities you come to expect from a quality venue. There are other standouts which make La Fonda a unique place to explore. With no additional resort fees, guests can kick back and enjoy everything that makes this hotel so very special.
La Plazuela Restaurant, nestled in the heart of La Fonda Plaza on the ground floor, is a charming and romantic restaurant featuring New World twists on authentic cuisine. The setting is impressive with its dramatic wrought- iron chandelier and verdant foliage. Natural light is filtered through skylights and a soothing fountain leads to the ambience.
The Bell Tower Bar located on the 5th floor will reopen for the 2023 season on May 5, once again offering light bites, premium cocktails, and unequivocally, the best picturesque mountain and sunset views.
La Fonda in Santa Fe is equipped with a fitness center and heated outdoor pool along with a hot tub.
A variety of massage and body treatments are available to help with relaxing and unwinding while surrounded by therapeutic tranquility in a soothing environment.
Art & History Tours
One of my favorite amenities of the hotel is the complimentary docent-led art and history tours. These are conducted each Wednesday through Saturday at 10:30 am and reservations are required.
Guests will appreciate the history and importance of the hotel so much more after an in-depth one-hour tour filled with stories about Fred Harvey and the Harvey girls, the architecture, and impressive art collection gracing the lobby, hallways and many other rooms of La Fonda.
And don’t miss shopping at Detours, La Fonda’s impressive gift shop featuring pieces from local artisans, unique jewelry, attire and accessories and other alluring merchandise.