Hotel Spotlight: Two Sides of Santa Fe - Four Seasons Rancho Encantado and El Rey Court
Last month I visited New Mexico for the first time and fell in love with the Southwestern town of Santa Fe. Between its rich history, art scene and landscape, Santa Fe has a unique fingerprint. It’s small but vast and diverse. My hope was to experience as much of it as possible during our stay, including lodging, as the area is home to some great properties. So, we split up our time at two hotels - El Rey Court our first night and Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado when we returned from Taos. These two hotels have extremely different settings and vibes, both showcasing the area in their own way, and I want to share a little about each in case your travels ever take you to Santa Fe.
El Rey Court
Our first night in town, we checked into El Rey Court, a white stucco historic motor inn off the original Route 66, which just last year was given new life with a fresh redesign and rebranding overhaul. This revitalization brought modern, Southwestern cool style to the property, and if I had to describe El Rey in one word that would be it - cool. The interior design is cool, the bar is cool, you feel cool staying here. As soon as I stepped inside the lobby I noticed it’s a design-rich environment, and our guest room was no exception. With a kiva fireplace anchoring the space, beamed ceilings, an ornate tiled mural above the bed and funky artwork hanging on the walls, the room set the stage for the authentic Southwest experience we traveled to Santa Fe for.
El Rey’s motto is “Where fast lives slow down”, and I found it to be entirely true. The owners have put a lot of thought and effort into the hotel’s common spaces in order to create a social and welcoming ambience where the outside world feels just that - outside. La Reina - the hotel’s tequila and mezcal bar, which is popular with guests and locals alike - and the lobby offer spaces to sit, socialize and enjoy a fire. In the summer months you can take a dip at the Swim Club and sip your favorite cocktail from the poolside bar. The Swim Club features a large pool in the heart of the property, as well as indoor and outdoor hot tubs and a sauna. Both the outside and inside of the property are covered in paintings by local artists, which is very fitting considering Santa Fe is an art town through and through. So much so that it’s hard to walk a block without passing by an art gallery or museum.
While it’s a quick 10 minute drive from the hotel to the heart of town, I will say that it’s location is the biggest downside of El Rey Court. It’s on busy Cerillos Road which screams anything but the cool vibe of the hotel. Also worth noting is the hotel’s original build date, which can be seen in areas like the bathrooms. That being said, neither of these would stop me from staying at El Rey Court again, and if you love one-of-a-kind boutique hotels, I recommend booking a room here for your Santa Fe travels. Plus, the price is hard to beat!
Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado
Leading up to our trip, images of desert landscapes, towering mesas and adobe houses came to mind when dreaming of New Mexico, and I hoped to experience the state’s rugged surroundings at least a little bit. When we returned to Santa Fe after spending a few days skiing in Taos, we checked-in to the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, an intimate hotel set on 57 rolling acres in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. Just 15 minutes from downtown’s shops and galleries, it was the perfect blend of seclusion and accessibility. Like El Rey Court, the Four Seasons exudes Southwestern flare, just in an understated, luxurious way.
When we got off the highway at the exit the GPS directed us to, we wondered if we had made a wrong turn. We were instantly enveloped by a beautiful and remote countryside, winding our way through rolling hills dotted with junipers and aspens. After five minutes of welcoming the possible wrong turn, sure enough, we came to the hotel’s entrance. Blending beautifully into the landscape, the resort has a main lodge and a dozen or so casitas scattered throughout the property which house the guest rooms. Highlights of our room were a wood-burning kiva fireplace and outdoor terrace perfect for admiring the unobstructed mountain vistas in the distance. All the casitas have regional decor, fireplaces, heated floors and outdoor space, as well as great amenities like one-hour pressing and fire butler service. Yes, you read that right. Anytime of day you can request service to have a fire lit in your room, and the scent of piñon woodsmoke drifting across the property is heavenly.
The best amenities of the resort though lie outside the casitas in nature. Rancho Encantado has become a base for luxury adventure in the high desert, attracting guests for the guided excursions it offers. The resort’s adventure center offers everything from free desert hikes every morning, mountain biking, jeep tours and hot air balloon rides to culture tours of Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch and the City of Acoma Pueblo. Your itinerary is completely customizable and can even include seasonal ceremonial dances and feasts at nearby Pueblos. When reading through the list the options felt limitless. If you’d prefer to stick close by, expert led pilates and yoga classes are offered onsite and there is a great outdoor pool as well. As much as I enjoyed our stay my only regret is that it wasn’t during the summer months when we could have taken full advantage of these activities, and highly recommend keeping this in mind if you consider visiting. You won’t be disappointed!