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Santa Fe: Foot traffic
Wednesday, 09 October 2013
Photo by Jeff Caven
Among the countless alluring qualities of Santa Fe, walkability may hold the most usable charm

Story by Kevin Hopper
A one-day, one-night jaunt to Santa Fe is an all-too-often overlooked luxury for residents of Albuquerque and surrounding areas. On a very recent visit with my lovely wife, I realized why this magical global destination is such a draw to so many travelers. In a word, walkability.

After numerous visits to the City Different over the past few decades, it has never really dawned on me just how close all of its varied cultural amenities are to each other. In fact, it’s downright European.

With one slight exception (more on that later), wifey and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon, evening and late morning in the confines of just a few square blocks. Of course, to do this, visitors need to find a hotel very close to the storied Santa Fe Plaza. Luckily, there are many.

Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe
Neighboring hotels Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe and Rosewood Inn Of the Anasazi, located on Washington and Palace Avenues, northeast of the Plaza, are each exquisite choices. For this latest trip, we chose the former, a recently revamped 56-room hotel that pays homage to its namesake, the New Mexican landmark town of Chimayo.

Walk into the warm, woodsy lobby filled with distinctive artwork (all from Chimayo artists), including a mesmerizing Virgin Mary carving surrounded by lit candles and a wholly unique fireplace decorated with colorful santos, then through a French door, and guests are greeted with an enchanting three-story territorial style galley courtyard reminiscent of a Venetian alleyway (albeit one lined with decorative red chile ristras). Each room’s balcony looks out to this charming plaza, marked by a striking yet serene wooden cross. The perfect place for a wedding? Yes, very much so.

Rooms at Chimayo are similar to the town it is named after: rustic and folksy, yet exceedingly comfortable and warm. Rooms feature wood-burning fireplaces, plush beds with soft linens and handmade crosses and weavings all created by Chimayo artists. Though our visit here was in late summer, we are already planning a winter stay in hopes of soft snow and a roaring fire.

As for walkability, guests can choose to walk just a few dozen feet to take in an authentic New Mexican meal at Tia’s Cocina, one flight up from the lobby, and perhaps a handcrafted cocktail afterward at Low ‘n Slow, just off the lobby.

If that is all we had done on this trip, it would have been a short but relaxing respite from the normal day-to-day routine. Of course, we walked a bit further on this trip, but not much. Dinner was across the street at the Santa Fe dining institution The Bull Ring, a storied steakhouse and meeting place for politicos that relocated from its original location in 1995. In fact, as luck would have it, Michael David Winery (Lodi, Calif.) was holding a four-course wine dinner, where we sat with co-owner and president David Phillips, who introduced us to the winery’s creatively-named portfolio, including Rapture, Freakshow, Lust and Earthquake. Serendipity!

La Boca Photo by Wes Naman
Had we not chose The Bull Ring, we could have walked 20 more steps to indulge in Chef James Campbell Caruso’s tapas menu at Taberna La Boca, around the corner to La Boca (also owned by Caruso, who will soon be launching a tapas spot at Hotel Andaluz in Downtown Albuquerque) or cross one more street to Il Piatto for rustic Italian fare. This is all within a half block to the west from your room! Just a literal stone’s throw to the west and south is another splendid courtyard setting that houses La Casa Sena, where Chef Patrick Gharrity creates simple, elegant dishes that tips a hat to the ingredients and traditional fare of New Mexico.

After-dinner drink spots are just as plentiful and within reach from Hotel Chimayo. Again, Low ‘n Slow is as ideal and unique as it gets. Not only does the signature cocktail menu pay tribute to local ingredients, the focus of the decor is about as New Mexican as can be: the lowrider. In fact, the parking spots out front are designated for lowriders only. Other nearby cocktail stops include The Palace Restaurant and Saloon, El Paseo Bar & Grill or the esteemed Staab House. Again, all of these spots are a three-minute walk at most, while your car is safely parked underground at Hotel Chimayo and a fireplace awaits your return.

In the morning, hobble over to The French Pastry Shop for a coffee and quiche, or sleep in a little and grab a seat at The Shed for a leisurely lunch — just two of many other restaurants located just steps from your bed at Hotel Chimayo.

Had the wife not been so thoughtful as to book a private tub and massage at Ten Thousand Waves up the hill (perhaps the most authentic Japanese spa this side of Tokyo) we would have had no use for a vehicle of any kind. It’s a very pleasant travel concept when you think about it, and one that is far too rare in American cities. All the more reason that this jewel of a city should serve as the prime locale for Duke City residents seeking a short and sweet interlude.

Where to stay:
Hotel Chimayo
125 Washington, 505.988.4900

Rosewood Inn Of the Anasazi
113 Washington, 505.988.3030

Hotel St Francis
210 Don Gaspar, 505.983.5700

Where to eat:
Il Piatto
95 West Marcy, 505.984.1091

The Bull Ring
150 Washington #108, 505.983.3328

La Boca
72 West Marcy, 505.982.3433

The Shed
113 E Palace, 505.982.9030

Where to drink:

72 West Marcy, 505.982.3433

Slow ’N Low
125 Washington, 505.988.4900

Staab House
330 E Palace, 505.986.0000

Secreto Bar
210 Don Gaspar, 505.983.5700

The Palace Restaurant & Saloon
142 W Palace, 505.428.0690

Where to relax:

Ten Thousand Waves
3451 Hyde Park Road, 505.982.9304
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