Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A historic, upscale boutique hotel near the Plaza that appeals to couples
The 4-pearl Hotel St. Francis is housed in a charming, gorgeously renovated historic building two blocks from Santa Fe Plaza. Owner Jim Long of Heritage Resorts chose to redecorate the 1924 building to honor Santa Fe’s patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi.
Franciscan missionaries and monks arrived in New Mexico in the 17th century, and were known to live simple, uncluttered lives; the hotel reflects this philosophy in its minimalist decor. The open lobby features a collection of candles surrounding a small fountain, wrought iron chandeliers, arched passageways, stone floors, and carved statue of St. Francis himself. The hotel’s hallways feature fascinating historic photographs of Santa Fe.
Rooms are the same size they were back in the 1920s -- which is to say, small. Some guests may complain about the tight quarters, but the historic feel and the furniture from local artisans help compensate. This hotel is not suited for business travelers, due to lack of work desks and space in the majority of rooms, and attracts mostly couples.
Features at this boutique are few, and guests in search of a pool may want to consider the nearby Inn and Spa at Loretto.
Two blocks from Santa Fe Plaza
The St. Francis sits only two blocks from Santa Fe Plaza, the city's cultural center. This busy historic district is populated by shops, galleries, restaurants, and other attractions. Sights such as the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and the annual Indian Market (held each August at the Plaza) are within easy walking distance. No shuttle service is offered, and self-parking runs $9 per night.
Santa Fe means “Holy Faith” in Spanish and is home to about 70,000 people of varying cultural backgrounds including Hispanics, Native Americans, and Anglos. New Mexico’s fourth-largest city is also the nation’s highest capitol and its oldest: It was founded in 1607.
The “City Different,” as it’s known, sits at an elevation of 7,000 feet at the southern edge of the Rockies, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Although the cool summer hiking and skiing in winter offer great reasons to visit, it’s best to keep in mind that the high elevation also means more stress for the body while acclimating. Most people become used to the thinner air after two or three days which means that strenuous physical activity will become easier and less dangerous if you wait a day or two after arriving in town. One more caution - one alcoholic drink at this altitude will equal three drinks at sea level!
The Spanish influence seen so often throughout Santa Fe stems from the missionaries who arrived in the 1600s to convert the local Native American population. Old missions such as the San Miguel can be seen scattered across New Mexico and offer a fascinating glimpse into the region’s history. Often times, these missions are located at or near Native American pueblos, such as Tesuque or Cochiti, which are home to the various Pueblo peoples. Visiting New Mexico’s pueblos offers a chance to interact with the locals, purchase art and wares, and gain a better appreciation of New Mexico’s rich history.
Today, Santa Fe is the nation’s third-largest market for buying and selling art. In addition to the many galleries at the Plaza and along Canyon Road, several museums including the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum (showcasing the painter’s long relationship with New Mexico) celebrate the creative spirit in Santa Fe.
Small, historic rooms with simple, elgant mission-style decor
Rooms at Hotel St. Francis are among the smallest around, but have upscale mission-style decor: restored original hardwood floors, handcrafted furniture, a color scheme of grays and whites, and bare walls. The decor is deliberately simple, as it is inspired by the style of Santa Fe's Franciscan missions.
Some rooms face the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, but most offer a view of either a street or a nondescript hotel wall. There are no coffeemakers in the rooms, but coffee service is available.
No pool or spa -- just a tiny fitness center and business center
A popular bar and a New Mexican fine dining restaurant
Tabla de los Santos Restaurant serves New Mexican-inspired cuisine using local ingredients for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sample menu items include cheese-stuffed chile rellenos. Room service is not available.
The adjacent Secreto Bar & Loggia is open daily and features mixologist Chris Milligan, who writes a popular blog called Santa Fe Barman and creates acclaimed signature drinks.
The St. Francis also hosts afternoon tea, coffee, sherry, and sweets in the lobby every Friday and Saturday afternoon.
The 81-room upscale boutique, housed in a historic building two blocks the Santa Fe Plaza, underwent a complete renovation in 2011 and now features simple, mission-style decor inspired by the principles of St. Francis of Assisi. The elegant, minimalist rooms have original wood floors, sturdy wood furniture made by local artisans, and a color scheme of gray and white -- but, as in many historic buildings, they're small. The hotel features a fine dining restaurant serving New Mexican cuisine, as well as a bar with outdoor seating available offering appetizers and cocktails. But there’s no pool or Jacuzzi, and guests will have to pay a daily fee for parking. If a pool is a priority, consider the nearby Inn and Spa at Loretto.