Traveling solo is a lonely business, so part of my goal each trip is to meet as many local folks as well as fellow travelers as possible. Meeting new people takes away some of the loneliness of traveling solo, plus it creates a network of friends I might never have known.
I’ve spent several weeks in Santa Fe this year on three separate trips and decided to try it all: a hostel, a motel near the Plaza, a hotel on the edge of town, and a townhome on the Plaza. It doesn’t get any more varied in experience than that. And you know what? I loved them all. No matter what your goals, the lodging in Santa Fe offers something for every budget—and plenty of opportunities to meet and connect with other travelers and locals.
On the shuttle bus from Lamy to Santa Fe, it felt as if everyone had a sudden burst of excitement after the lethargy of the long train ride. Where are you from? Where are you staying? As everyone listed off their exciting destinations, it was my turn: The Santa Fe International Hostel. Everyone turned to look at me. I’m not the typical backpacker spending a year traveling before college, so I’m not who you would typically expect to see at a hostel. But after spending three months backpacking parts of Europe as a teenager with my mom, I have a fondness for hostels—and I know from experience that there’s no better way to meet fellow adventurers, either.
Santa Fe International Hostel
1412 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505
The Santa Fe International Hostel is a 501(c)(3) educational not-for-profit corporation in operation for over 30 years. Each guest is required to clean their room when they check out and also has a daily chore; thus, the place is impeccably clean.
While dorm rooms rent for only $20 a night, I splurged on a private room with a bath for $35 a night. The room held two sets of bunk beds, a queen size bed, and a desk. As I unpacked my few belongings in such a large room, I imagined how fun it would be to have a group of girlfriends rent it for the night.
The hostel has a group area with a lending library, games, a computer to rent and lots of reading materials. There’s a fully-equipped industrial kitchen with basic pantry items for anyone to use. My first night there I cooked up a huge pot of pasta and made instant friends with a couple of hungry men—Tom, a Canadian who had been there for a month and was still deciding where he would travel next, and Paul, an Australian who got off the train with me in Lamy. Each day I enjoyed sipping tea while I watched Tom work on a jigsaw puzzle, or chatted with another guest.
Santa Fe Sage Inn
725 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87505
Located right across from the Santa Fe Railyard Park and only a few blocks from the galleries, shops, and restaurants on Guadalupe Street, this Southwest-style hotel is 0.9 miles from Santa Fe Plaza. A daily shuttle takes guests to the Plaza area and picks them up each hour.
Featuring Native American-style accents, the unpretentious rooms and suites come with satellite TV, free WiFi and coffee makers. Some units also include mini fridges. There’s a complimentary continental breakfast each morning. Even though it was January when I stayed at the Inn, it was closed, but I noticed a seasonally heated outdoor pool. There’s also a 24/7 exercise room and a business center.
Although it’s not as easy to meet fellow travelers in a motel, the free breakfast did provide a chance to connect with other guests.
Inn at Santa Fe
8376 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87507
Adjacent to the Fashion Outlets of Santa Fe off Interstate 25, this fully-functional business hotel is 10 miles from the Plaza area, but offers easy access to jump onto the highway or the shuttle can be reserved in advance.
While there isn’t a typical restaurant, there’s a full complimentary breakfast buffet each morning (no lunch served) and a Happy Hour with menu items from 5-8 p.m. each evening. The Happy Hour is perfect for meeting other guests, as the dining area is set up with groups of chairs around a fireplace, and long booths that connect the tables making it easy to chat with neighboring diners.
One night, while waiting for my dinner, I overheard two gentlemen dressed in full cowboy attire at the next table, “I’m gonna get my horse and ride into town and shoot them fer what they did.” My head snapped to look at them. Is this truly the Wild West? He must be joking. Turns out he wasn’t joking. The two were in town for a month filming a television show, The Gunslingers, an American Heroes Channel Docudrama. There were several Westerns filming at the time, and as we ate, my dinner companions shared stories about their lives as gunslingers.
The Inn at Santa Fe is ideal for the business traveler. They provide copy services, have meeting areas and were very helpful at lining up travel arrangements.
Fairmont Heritage Place, El Corazon de Santa Fe
103 Catron St, Santa Fe, NM 87501
And sometimes you want to go all out and stay right in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, just blocks from the Plaza area. The Fairmont Heritage Place offers townhomes for rent or to purchase in shares. They offer the comforts of a residence with the benefits of a luxury hotel.