bed room with a smooth stone fireplace and leather and patterned furniture

Bishop's Lodge

Bishop’s Lodge is a beautiful property located just outside of Santa Fe with a rich history and a wonderful sense of place.

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Aerial View - Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, Santa Fe, American West

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado lies a fifteen-minute drive north of downtown, which is precisely its draw. Perched on a ridge on fifty-seven acres, Santa Fe’s most sumptuous resort is all about space: there are sweeping desert views, especially from the large pool deck; the massive rooms feature minimalist-chic decor; and the property fronts a 1.8-million acre national forest, so hiking trails are literally in your backyard.

There are sixty-five guest rooms (called casitas) and one-bedroom suites, all housed in two-story buildings scattered on a hillside. Casitas on the lower floors have an outdoor patio and an outdoor fireplace, while those on the upper floor have a more expansive view and a sizable terrace. Unlike that at many properties in town, the décor here shies away from the somewhat expected Santa Fe style, embracing a more understated sensibility. It’s as if the designers who settled on the light-painted walls, dark-wood floors and sleek furniture realized that anything more precious would clash with the natural splendor of the great outdoors. Loving details including soft throws and blankets, wood-burning kiva-style fireplaces and original art add color and imbue a sense of warmth. As you’d expect at a Four Seasons property, the high-tech features are seamlessly integrated: heated bathrooms floors, flat-screen televisions and docking stations. And nearly everything in the minibar (included in the room rate except for alcoholic beverages) is locally sourced, which imparts a nice sense of place.

The luxury of space is also striking around the common spaces, which include an elevated pool area, a state-of-the-art fitness center, movement studio (yoga and Pilates) and massive outdoor fire pit off the Lounge Terrace, where a nightly ritual involves S’mores making and stargazing. And the Spa at Rancho Encantado is an appealing destination even for those not staying here. For a place like Santa Fe, which has long been renowned as a center for the healing arts and alternative medicine, the small number of high-end spas is surprising. (Until Rancho Encantado opened, visitors had to choose between Ten Thousand Waves, the famous Japanese-inspired wellness haven, which has some great therapists but a less than luxurious setting, and the spa at La Posada de Santa Fe, which has garnered mixed reviews for its treatments.) With its well-conceived layout, including steam rooms, soaking pools and a gorgeous circular relaxation room, the Spa at Rancho Encantado is the kind of place where you want to spend serious time (and the therapists and treatments are top-notch).

Since it re-opened as a Four Seasons resort, Rancho Encantado has struggled a bit to draw locals and visitors based in the downtown area up to its lofty perch: it reminded me of Amangani in Jackson Hole, blessed and cursed in equal parts with a stunning setting that’s geographically and mentally removed from the heart of the destination. For its guests, the resort also offers a fleet of Mercedes that can be used free of charge for the half-day or day, facilitating day trips to nearby sites including Bandelier Park, Ghost Ranch and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu Studio. I for one found the restful day and night I spent here a fantastic conclusion to my Santa Fe visit. After two days of the bustle of downtown, with its droves of tourists, long lines for hot-spot restaurants and ubiquitous commerce, the time of relaxation and introspection at Rancho Encantado was a welcome change of pace.

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Suite at Inn of the Five Graces, Santa Fe, American West

Inn of the Five Graces

On a trip to Santa Fe, visitors will often be struck by seemingly incongruous combinations: a high desert, which in winter brings snow to rest on cacti; cowboys who moonlight as conceptual artists; cathedrals that were built by prominent Jewish families; and all in a 400-year-old city that only recently celebrated its centennial of American statehood. It’s only natural that one of its great hotels is located in a series of 19th-century pueblo buildings, filled with Southeast Asian, Moroccan and South American furnishings. But just as the city represents a cross-section of the world’s cultures – relishing and hosting facets of religion, art, architecture, design, cuisine and lifestyle – so too does the Inn of the Five Graces welcome those exploring this enchanting region.

Long before becoming hoteliers, Five Graces owners Ira and Sylvia Seret were members of Andy Warhol’s Factory. The 1970s were a time of adventure for many of their crowd, and the Serets put Afghanistan in their sights. Ira became the major importer of the hugely popular sheepskin vests and coats while he began working with artisans creating kilims and other textiles. Seret sold these items and encouraged people to use them as upholstery for furniture, bedspreads, wall hangings and cushions. The hotel’s guest rooms, all unique in design and decor, are outfitted with the Seret’s collection of antiques, fabrics, tiles, doors and carved walls sourced from around the world.

Named for the five gifts that Tibetans believe God gave to man (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell), the Inn captivates each of the senses in unexpected and authentic New Mexican ways. It’s located in an oasis of calm, just on the edge of town, basking in a peacefulness aided by the quiet serenity of the city. Four-foot-tall Balinese carved marble elephants interspersed with cacti and wagon wheels greet guests at the hotel’s adobe entrance. Dispersed around courtyards, most rooms are set back from the street, so the only sounds come from the in-room music systems. Staff members, too, exude tranquility; while always available and helpful, they remain discreet. A week prior to arrival, the concierge will call guests to help coordinate meal reservations, guides or treatments in the small, specialized spa.

Owing to the pueblo architecture, the twenty-three rooms and suites – with names such as Citrine and Tamarind – remain cool in summer and cozy and warm in winter. Each sumptuous room has an adobe fireplace and a basket full of logs, piñon (a wood that releases a piney smell), perfectly sized kindling and pre-wrapped newspaper, for girl and boy scouts who like to build their own fires. (City slickers can call the front desk for assistance.)

Outdoor Lounge at Inn on the Alameda, Santa Fe, American West

Inn on the Alameda

The intimate Inn on the Alameda is a good choice for travelers who want to be centrally based (it is within walking distance of the Plaza and Canyon Road) but don’t want to pay five-star prices. Opened in 1986 and privately owned since, the Alameda is not as polished as, say, the Inn of the Anasazi, but the vibe is authentic Santa Fe: artsy, laid-back and congenial. The Southwestern decor doesn’t feel phony; rather, the Mexican wicker furniture in the lobby, the dried bunches of chiles suspended from the ceiling, the exposed vigas (beams) in the cozy dining room and the bookshelves lined with regional titles all add to the lived-in, homey atmosphere. Friendly staff members make every effort to get to know guests and their preferences.

The seventy-two adobe-style guest rooms and suites, scattered throughout five buildings, range in age, but most of the deluxe rooms and all twelve suites have been refurbished and feature handmade armoires, Talavera-tiled bathrooms and wrought-iron light fixtures. And most have a wood-burning or gas kiva fireplace. Suites contain a separate living area with a sleeper sofa – a great touch for families or friends traveling together. For the best rooms, ask to be on a top floor with a terrace. The property, which snakes along Alameda Street, is beautifully planted with aspens, climbing rose vines and cottonwoods, but be aware that while adobe walls gate the grounds, you are also very close to one of the busiest streets in town (a consideration for families with small children).

Room Lounge at La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa, Santa Fe, American West

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa

As the only property in downtown Santa Fe that occupies a significant amount of land– six acres of landscaped grounds, including a small pool area– La Posada is a good choice for families who want to let their kids roam without worrying about them disturbing other guests (as they would at the Inn of the Anasazi) or running into a major street (as they could at the Inn on the Alameda).

The 157-room Posada feels larger and more corporate compared to other intimate Santa Fe hotels: for instance, the four reception desks in the bustling Posada lobby can be jarring. But this historic property, centered around a whimsical Victorian mansion, is fascinating. The original owners, the Staab family, were Santa Fe trail merchants (one staffer described Mr. Staab as the Donald Trump of the Southwest) who built the three-story brick mansion, complete with French Empire-style embellishments, in 1882. Today, the Staab mansion, which connects to the reception area and La Posada’s restaurants, houses four hotel suites as well as interconnected drawing rooms and a lounge and bar where guests can enjoy afternoon tea or cocktails.

As a hotel, La Posada finds its roots in the city’s art scene: in the mid-1930s, the then owners built a series of Pueblo-style adobe casitas around the Staab mansion, which served as an artists’ colony for many years. Guests can still stay in these artisans’ casitas – lovingly dubbed “fat lumpies” because of the roundness of the classic adobe style. Most guest rooms, however, are located in newly rehabbed casitas, some of which are two stories, and all of which are scattered around the property.

Accommodations boast some nice local touches, including kiva fireplaces, exposed wooden ceiling beams and a well-edited selection of regional artwork. The latter can be found throughout the hotel in a vivid and colorful collection that is pure Santa Fe. La Posada is one of few downtown hotels with a (small) pool area, a welcome amenity for families traveling with kids. And the 4,500-square-foot spa, complete with steam rooms and a fitness center, is one of the largest in town (the jury is out, however, on whether these amenities warrant the daily resort charge La Posada tacks onto every bill).

The location of your room is key: it’s best to be on an upper floor and removed from the outdoor dining patio, which can get noisy (my room, Number 107, faced the patio, which meant that I could not escape the Mariachi band that performed until 10 P.M.). And if having a large bathroom is important to you, be sure to request one; each room has a different layout, and some bathrooms are tiny.

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Suite Bedroom at Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, Santa Fe, American West

Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi

Located a stone’s throw from the Palace of the Governors, the fifty-eight-room Anasazi is within walking distance of pretty much every museum, restaurant and boutique the city has to offer. This enviable location, however, also means that the three-story pueblo-style hotel occupies a long sliver of real estate tightly framed by neighboring buildings, so views are nonexistent. The rooms themselves, however, are designed with such style and care for detail that guests don’t seem to mind.

The Inn opened in 1990, but when Rosewood took over the management in 2005 and then again in 2014, the company invested serious money to update and renovate interiors. The inspiration is the Southwest, as can be seen in the Navajo-pattern carpets and throws, comfy chaises covered in cowhide, wrought-iron furniture and intricately carved wooden doors. Every guest room has a kiva fireplace (gas, however, not wood-burning) and a spacious bathroom. There are a few lovely, serene common areas, including a library stocked with Southwest-related titles and two cozy drawing rooms, where guests can have tea and escape the bustle outside. A nice touch is the well-edited original art on display, all created by contemporary Santa Fe artists.

The Inn of the Anasazi is run by Rosewood, and consistently receives the best marks for service in Santa Fe; it does feel a touch more formal, and professional, than such properties as the Inn of the Five Graces and the Inn on the Alameda. The Anasazi Restaurant and Bar is known as being among Santa Fe’s best.

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