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The two of us Girls love almost nothing more than a road trip and our recent New Mexico road trip was a major highlight of 2013. Every day brought incredible landscapes, dusty Spanish outposts and fire-hot chiles. Every night, however, the hotel quality was left to the luck of the draw – especially in the southern part of the state. Motel life was fine for a while, but after ten days on the road we arrived to Santa Fe via the Turquoise Trail from Albuquerque and pulled in to a Bed and Breakfast so perfect, at first it felt like a dream.
El Farolito Bed and Breakfast is set in a typical Santa Fe-style compound which involves several one-story adobe buildings around a central open space. The compound was built and owned by an extended Spanish family who had settled here in the 19th century. Just a ten minute walk to the center of Santa Fe, the compound was eventually sold off as individual units before owners Wayne and Walt purchased it several years ago and turned it into the quiet little haven that it is today. El Farolito offers the exact experience you hope for at a Bed & Breakfast: personal attention, personal recommendations and a home-away-from-home feeling.
Dani and I were easily twenty years younger than the average guest, but it is hard to know whether this would always be the case – who else vacations mid-week at the end of September other than retirees and digital nomads like us. In these situations with older couples, we sometimes feel awkward when our relationship is understood as friendship until we have to make our status as a lesbian couple clear. At El Farolito we felt even more at home as Wayne and Walt are a gay couple who has been together for years and years.
After packing up and moving hotels almost every day on the trip, it was so great to settle in to these gorgeous rooms for three nights. Each of the eight casitas is individually decorated, all with features like rough cut exposed ceiling beams, Spanish tiles and adobe fireplaces built into each room. The first night we stayed in the Santa Fe suite, which had bedroom with en-suite bathroom and a separate living room. The following two nights we stayed in the Madre Acequia room, which, although it didn’t have two rooms, was open and spacious and felt like somewhere we could have settled and moved into for a week or two.
All rooms have a fully equipped wet bar, with coffee maker and coffee, bottle openers, bottles of water, a sink and small refrigerator, so it was that much easier to feel at home. On the big wooden dressers there were candy bowls filled with chocolate, and each room has an outdoor patio, some more private than others, but all of them are perfect for relaxing in the fresh air. What we loved about the rooms inside is that instead of a desk and stiff backed chair, our rooms had big comfy sofa chairs to relax.
Bathrooms are modestly-sized but beautifully decorated with Spanish tiles and I love the designated black towels for make-up removal. I always feel terrible getting mascara on a hotel’s bright white towels. That first night we arrived we both immediately changed and threw on the big comfortable robes which were so puffy they were almost like pillows.
Our time in Santa Fe was limited so we were out and about relatively late at night (they seem to roll the sidewalks up around 9pm in this town), but both nights our rooms had private outside entrances, so we could come and go as we pleased without interrupting any of the other guests. Because the property is so spacious it would have been easy to assume the Wi-Fi wouldn’t work at the casitas further from the main house, but we had lightning fast internet in our casita, the suite and in the common area.
The owners and innkeeper were so friendly,we could have sat in the common area and talked for hours on end, but they are also entirely respectful of privacy and you have as much discretion here as you’d like. But either way, you would come out for breakfast, which is as good if not better than any restaurant you would head to in town. There is a hot and cold buffet each morning with one delicious hot dish and a side, plus cereals, granola, greek yogurt, coffee, tea, water, a plate of fresh fruit and two plates of freshly baked pastries/banana breads. Our vegetarian diet was catered to without question,and on the first morning we passed on the breakfast pizza that had meat and enjoyed our own delicious fritata! Every afternoon the scent of freshly baked cakes and cookies and piping hot coffee waft into your room and tease you out to eat a piece or two, entranced and possibly against your own will.
The owners collect art, and the whole compound is beautifully decorated. Some guests return year after year, choosing their casita based on the artwork that hangs on the walls and the pieces in the common room reflect the intense desert landscapes of northern New Mexico.
There are bookshelves spilling over with guidebooks, maps and reading related to Santa Fe. We didn’t need a guidebook at all, with Wayne and Sherry on hand to answer any questions and make on point suggestions according to our own travel style and tastes. We may have skipped out on a visit to Canyon Road, an entire winding road filled with art galleries and big bold sculptures, but thanks to Walt’s suggestion, this turned out to be one the highlights of our far too short time in town.
Yet another positive about El Farolito is its location. You can walk almost anywhere – ten minutes to Canyon Road and ten to get to the famous plaza. In the other direction ten minutes, too, is the up-and-coming Railroad/Guadalupe district, where we walked have coffee and hit the farmer’s market. With the proximity to almost everything of importance and the city’s free shuttle bus we definitely didn’t use our car while in town, and the B&B has plenty of parking for all guests, as well.
Wayne and Walt have infused their experience of running not one but two local bed and breakfasts (the other is the nearby and equally loved Four Kachinas) and their passion for Santa Fe and the Southwest in general into creating a home away from home that predicts your needs before you are aware of them yourself.
Location: 514 Galisted Street, Santa Fe
Price: Double rooms start at $190 in low season
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes, there was plenty of space to work and the wi-fi worked excellent.
Amenities: Full breakfast included, book and newspaper library, terrace, communal lounge, sweet afternoon snack and coffee, free wi-fi, free parking spots, in-room coffee maker and fridge