If you’re looking for a place to stay that has Route 66 nostalgia, distinctive Southwestern design, and is situated smack in The City Different … hello El Rey Inn of Santa Fe, New Mexico! We’ve driven by hundreds of times and on our recent trip through the city we decided it was time to check in and explore. It catches your eye from the street with it’s bright white adobe, blue and turquoise trim and tile murals. Then you venture in and find there’s so much more to discover than you could have imagined.
Built in 1936, El Rey has eighty-six rooms with no two alike. The buildings and grounds all have a Southwest adobe/Spanish Colonial look and feel, with quaint courtyards, cozy patios and garden nooks.
After being warmly greeted by the front desk manager who gave us tips on where to eat and urged us to walk about the grounds, we checked into one of the original rooms of the inn. We couldn’t help thinking of all the guests who’d stayed there through the years and how everything, aside from the TV and a few appliances and bath features, appeared unaltered from the days when Route 66 ran through Santa Fe (before the odd circumstances that re-routed it.)
It was a mild June evening and we sat on the patio to enjoy the cool breeze moving around the rows of rooms and casitas. The inn sits on five acres, so we took the manager’s cue and strolled through walkways with thick adobe walls, gardens with hidden pathways, and in a short time completely forgot we were in a city. This is a place that seems to go on forever.
Additional rooms have been added on through the years. There’s also a pool, 2 hot tubs, and lush landscaping around every corner. We loved the natural rock seating built into low border walls, the roses, honeysuckle and any number of flowers blooming everywhere including planters atop casitas.
Some Route 66 motel / hotels have vanished … this one is cared for and thriving. We like to recall sitting our patio and hearing the ‘click click click’ as the grounds keeper walked the entire roomscape to turn on each individual patio light, as he does devotedly every night at dusk.
We had a great night’s sleep. Aside from a few early morning motorcycles, the adobe insulated noise from bustling Cerrillos Road, and our room was clean with a sparkly spotless bathroom and plenty of bright white towels.
The inn is located south of the Santa Fe Plaza, only a short drive away. It is within easy walking distance to the The Pantry restaurant … a longstanding iconic place with an authentic Southwestern breakfast you’ll never forget. Only a few miles south is the contemporary mind-blowing Meow Wolf art installation.
If you seek out Mother Road treasures or just want to get your kicks, motor west and get hip to this timeless tip.
Buen Provecho and Happy Discoveries!
Amy & Mr.D
Meow Wolf article
I’ve driven by the El Rey hundreds of times and am now inspired to stay on my next visit. I’m fairly sure that nostalgic Route 66 hotel motels in great condition like this are rare nowadays. What a treasure.
Carmen, if you have the opportunity to stay — take it. And please send pics so we can share them with everyone. Have a wonderful visit!
I am so glad that you discovered the El Rey. When our families come to visit over the holidays we put them up there because the kids love the pool and the adults love the hot tubs. They all love the nostalgia and we have great memories of the place.
Anne, we completely understand your attachment to the El Rey. It’s one-of-a-kind and made for great memories! If you have any favorite photos from a stay, please send them and we’ll share with everyone.