The Guadalupe Inn in Santa Fe is by no means a straightforward, all-great-or-all-bad, proposition. My friend and I just spent a wonderful week in New Mexico, and on balance, our five nights at Guadalupe Inn were very much a part of the good times. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again, but there’s room for improvement.
First, the location and setting are excellent. The Inn is nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood full of neat adobe houses with flowering gardens, on an alley that is in fact perpendicular to Agua Fria Street and therefore insulated from all traffic noise. It is near the Plaza, the Palace of the Governors, the performing arts center, restaurants (try Ristra, right next door, for a truly first class dinner, or the less expensive Zia Diner, a few blocks farther away), and other niceties, like a pack-n-ship for those, ahem, larger purchases that won’t go in your suitcase.
As to finding the Inn: if you are driving along Agua Fria Street from the west/southwest, as you would from the Turquoise Trail or I-25, the sign for the landmark cross street, Clossen, cannot be seen. Even if the street sign had not somehow been skewed so that it almost parallels Agua Fria, it is completely obscured by a tree. Clossen, on the left side as you head towards town, doesn’t cross Agua Fria; to the right, where Inn resides, is only a tiny alley (see map). The alley is not even shown on Google Maps. The signs for the Inn on Agua Fria at the entrance to the alley are too subtle: they’re invisible in the dark or if you blink. Bright paint and trimming the bushes would help.
The Inn, once you find it, is so attractive, and there’s shaded parking under the main wing (be careful backing out, it’s cramped!). It was peaceful and we felt safe and secure day and night. The owners Henrietta (Henner) and Dolores (Dee) Quintana are wonderful ladies, sisters with very distinct personalities, both charming and helpful as can be. Their assistant, Gail, is also lovely. We found the breakfasts to be fresh and more than ample: each day there were delicious home-baked zucchini pineapple and banana nut bread, cut up fresh fruit, a choice of dry cereals, juice, and made-to-order courses like huevos rancheros, burritos, omelets (you choose your filling), or pancakes. The coffee is very good. We also greatly enjoyed morning conversations with the other guests, all of them nice, smart, very cool people.
We had a 2-bedroom room (a queen bed apiece) that suited two girls traveling together. The “inner” bedroom, surprisingly, had no window and the provided fan is absolutely required to keep air circulating. The “outer” bedroom was better ventilated because our room was at the end of the row, and we could safely open side windows too high for someone to crawl in. The room also had a sitting area, TV with satellite, telephone, gas fireplace, and a lovely balcony with white plastic chairs that badly needed cleaning (sorry to admit, we used spare bath towels to keep from dirtying up our backsides, it was much too nice to forgo sitting outdoors). There was an air conditioner, though we didn’t need it, even in July. The walls were decorated here and there with cheerful petroglyph designs. Oddly, however, there was no clock by either bed. I got a loaner from Dolores.
The magnificent part was our updated, gorgeously tiled bathroom with a spa tub, walk-in shower, big vanity with A+ storage, and a single giant basin that was in fact big enough for two people to use at the same time. The bad news was the lighting and mirrors. Although there was a big skylight, it was only helpful in broad daylight. Otherwise there was one single pendant light with a low wattage bulb, who knows what our make-up looked like, we sure couldn’t tell! This was especially odd as the lighting in the outer room was exceptional, with table-top lamps and track lights and pendant lights and a torchiere. Hotel-type bar soap, mini-shampoos, plastic cups and tissue are provided, but not a hair dryer.
The only full-length mirror was on inside of the bathroom door. Watching myself sitting on the toilet is not my idea of fun, and not being able to check if my clothes were on straight if my traveling companion was using the bathroom was an inconvenience. The mirror over the vanity was mounted at least 4 inches too high. My friend and are both tall and we could see ourselves from about collar bones up. Anyone less than 5’4” would have to stand on a chair to get a full face view. This is such an easy fix, I hope they will attend to it.
Unfortunately, the carpet was past its prime, and the beds were also obviously old. My whole bed, box spring + mattress, came only to my knees–extra-thick mattresses became the rage years ago, didn’t they? When I sat down the mattress compressed nearly completely. The bed covers had been laundered too many times, and though clean, looked pretty tired. Space to hang up clothing was simply not satisfactory. No room for another hanger bar? A few nice wall hooks would help a lot! There was no closet–just a TV cabinet with no TV–in the inner bedroom; in the outer room there was one small rod with awful wire hangers, hard on good clothing, impossible for coats. Fortunately, there were a couple of other small chests where we could stash some things.
If stairs are an issue I would encourage mobility-impaired travelers to inquire, as we didn’t see all wings and there may be ramps to some rooms. However, the rooms in the main wing are accessible only by stairs.
The little inconveniences and the fusty bedding, etc., by no means outweighed the pleasures of staying at the Guadalupe Inn; guests will be very happy, as we were, if they are prepared to live with the assorted little negatives. It seems like it would take so little to resolve the annoyances–re-position the mirrors, put a brighter light fixture in the bathroom (!), replace the mattresses (!), rejuvenate the bedding, get plastic hangers at Wal-mart, and, if possible, replace the floor covering–to make the Guadalupe Inn the first class establishment it really is at heart.
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