Albuquerque New Mexico: Where To Stay by Victoria Ugarte

Known as New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque is located in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, and enjoys stunning views of the Sandia and Manzano mountains to the east.

Albuquerque is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The majestic 10,678 foot-high Sandia Peak is a mere 15 minute drive away from the centre of town. Its sunny and dry high desert climate, with relatively mild winters, means that you can catch a few ski runs on Sandia Peak and a round of golf in the same day. Hot air ballooning, a year-round favourite in Albuquerque, certainly takes adventure to new heights.

As a 300 year-old city, Albuquerque has had plenty of time to strike a  balance between old and new, with its neighborhoods featuring very distinctive personalities:

1)    Historic Old Town - Old Town has been Albuquerque’s central gathering place since its foundation in 1706. Oozing character and rustic Southwestern charm, shopping is a big draw in Old Town. Side-streets and hidden patios reveal artist-owned galleries, boutiques, outdoor cafes, and restaurants.

2)    Downtown - Downtown Albuquerque is divided by Central Avenue (Route 66), and is compact enough to get around on foot. The Convention Centre, restaurants, clubs, movies, and Gold Avenue Shopping District are located here. The East Downtown area, known as EDo, has been hailed as the latest trendy neighborhood, thanks to renovations and new developments. Shops and restaurants are smaller in size but character-rich.

3)    Historic Nob Hill - From Downtown, the Central Avenue/Route 66 corridor continues east to Nob Hill after passing by the University of New Mexico campus and Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. Retro diners, novelty shops, avant- garde galleries, and trendy boutiques line the avenue, making it the hub of the city’s hip scene.
4)    Uptown - This part of town, made up of multi-dimensional complexes that combine living, working, and recreation, offers a look into the future of integrated living. The Coronado Centre, the state’s largest mall, is located here, as is EXPO New Mexico, which hosts arts and craft shows, concerts, horse shows, and sporting events.

Albuquerque: Where To Stay

Casa de Suenos - We chose to stay at Casa de Suenos B&B because of its close proximity to Albequerque’s Old Town. For location, you simply can’t beat it. Casa de Suenos is a secluded adobe-style compound which features 21 spacious casitas ( meaning “little houses” or “guest houses”) that were built in the 30’s and 40’s. Decorated in a rustic Southwestern style, the rooms are spacious and comfortable, the rates are reasonable, and the Wi-Fi access in the rooms are excellent. The hidden courtyards, patios and beautiful gardens that surround the various casitas are tranquil and lovely, giving one the sense of being in an oasis in the middle of town. But the highlight of Casa de Suenos were the hearty breakfasts, which are lovingly prepared by a jovial Argentinian chef with a booming voice, named Diego. 310 Rio Grande Blvd. SW, Albuquerque, NM.

Los Poblanos - Book way ahead for this property. Set among 25 gorgeous acres of lavender fields and lush formal gardens, Los Poblanos Inn is one of the most prestigious historic properties in the Southwest. Designed by the region's foremost architect, John Gaw Meem, the "Father of Santa Fe Style," it is listed on both the New Mexico and National Registers of Historic Places. Located just a five-minute drive from Old Town Albuquerque, it is within walking distance of the Rio Grande and open-space trails. It’s six rooms are decorated in a classic New Mexican style and feature kiva fireplaces, carved ceiling beams, hardwood floors, and antique New Mexican furnishings. Their cuisine offers a blend of haute cuisine and the foods indigenous to New Mexico's Rio Grande River Valley. Chef, Jonathan Perno, makes use of the freshest ingredients from their own farm and small local farmers. Sounds heavenly? It is. Rates range from US$130 - 280 per night. 4803 Rio Grande Blvd. NW, Albuquerque, NM.

Hacienda Antigua - This 215 year old adobe hacienda gives you the feeling of stepping back in time as you enter through its carved gates and stroll through its gentle courtyard. Hacienda Antigua has 8 guest rooms that ooze charm and are individually decorated in a Southwestern rustic style that blends the old with the new. Award-winning Hacienda Antigua has been listed in Frommer’s “Best in Albuquerque”, featured in Discovery Channel’s “Great Country Inns”, and featured in Travel & Leisure Magazine. Hacienda Antigua is conveniently located in the North Valley of Albuquerque, just 15 minutes from the Albuquerque International Airport and 10 minutes from Historic Old Town and the Downtown areas. Rates range from US$129 - 229 per night. 6708 Tierra Drive NW, Albuquerque, NM.

The Chocolate Turtle, Corrales - If being embraced by rural surroundings appeals to you, then check out The Chocolate Turtle, which is situated in the picturesque village and historic farming community of Corrales in the Rio Grande River Valley. It’s location is just a short drive away from Albuquerque, Sandia Peak Tramway, Balloon Park, and convenient day trips. This delightful B&B is a classic adobe home with four colourful guestrooms, and a tranquil patio that is surrounded by a glorious garden and magnificent views of the Sandia Mountains. The Chocolate Turtle is the brainchild of Inn Keepers, Dallas and Nancy Renner, and their dedication, passion, and love for what they do shows in every inch of this property. It has just won the 2011 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice award as one of the Top 10 B&B's in the United States, are proud members of the Albuquerque B&B Association, and have been awarded the Three Diamond Rating from AAA. Rates between US$109 - 129 per night.

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