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By Michele Angello
The wind blows differently here—redolent of roasting chiles and piňon wood burning in a crackling fireplace. The light is different, too—a soft, amber glow that has long captured the eye of artists. The warm earth smolders red—reflected in the adobe that seems to pop up in the most meaningful and the most mundane places, from the oldest church in America to the town strip malls. The desert sky feels closer, brighter, and clearer.

Experiencing Santa Fe can feel a little bit like falling in love. You know you’re dazzled, but you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is that lights your fire.

As you slow down and start to take in what’s different about this magical, mystical place, a picture of romance tinted by the sepia tones of five centuries comes into focus. 

Here are three places to stay and experience the romance of Santa Fe.

Part of the magical appeal of Santa Fe is the Spanish influence of lush adobe courtyards draped in vines. The Don Gaspar Inn (623 Don Gaspar Avenue, 888-986-8664) captures this feeling perfectly, with a compound of buildings nestled in a high-walled adobe courtyard filled with fruit trees and roses. Red flagstone walks lead to several inviting seating areas. A terracotta and tile fountain provides the sounds of water music under a peach tree in one corner. Small weddings frequently take place at the fountain.

The Don Gaspar Inn makes visitors feel like part of an exclusive secret club hidden away from the bustle and crowds of the plaza, because of both the warm hospitality of its staff and the inn’s walled-in grounds. A full hot breakfast complete with fruit, cinnamon rolls, and Southwestern egg dishes is included.

The exotic and the unexpected characterize the 22 guest suites at the Inn of the Five Graces (150 E. DeVargas St., 505-992-0957). Decorated with a curious mix of furnishings from the Orient and the Old West, the result is a marriage that sounds strange but in actuality is lush. Luxurious rooms are decorated with rugs, furniture and architectural elements imported from Tibet and the Middle East. Richly-colored mosaics adorn the walls of the bathrooms.

In Tibetan tradition, there are five graces, or ways, to experience the splendor of the world—sight, sound, touch, taste and smell—and each of these makes its way into the sensory experiences of guests of the inn. Stone fireplaces warm with the crackling sounds of burning piňon pine, deep jetted tubs soothe away stress knots, and courtyard and gardens are dappled with shade for breakfast and shimmer with white twinkle lights at night.

Located only two blocks from the plaza, the freshly remodeled suites at the Inn of the Governors (101 W. Alameda, 505-954-0332) feature a homey ambiance and a rich black, red and white decorating scheme. Cozy up on 350 thread count linens or laze in front of a kiva fireplace.

A year-round heated pool is a rarity in Santa Fe, as is room service, which comes from the Del Charro Saloon and Restaurant next door. Order a juicy chile burger or try the delicious Stuffed Poblano, a battered poblano pepper stuffed with black beans, corn and cheese and covered with a creamy chipotle chile sauce. You’ll spend $6 or less for anything on the menu. All items on the dessert menu, including chocolate mousse cake, are $3. If you can be persuaded to leave your room, you can eat your meal al fresco next to the massive outdoor fireplace. 

 

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