La Fonda on the Plaza: The Perfect Destination for Art Lovers, History Buffs, and Foodies

by Kim Weiss on December 9, 2023 in Travels,

La Fonda on the Plaza is somewhat of a shrine to its locals and the top of the list for Santa Fe’s tourists visiting from all points worldwide. Its history reads like a Western novel with visuals and characters fit for the silver screen. Upon opening the doors to the 100+-year-old hotel, it is obvious that preserving and showcasing the building’s history is priority one. 

Located on the historic Santa Fe Plaza. Photo courtesy La Fonda on the Plaza.

My husband and I, now homies of Santa Fe, have toured La Fonda on the Plaza (courtesy of a docent friend), sipped margaritas in the lounge, and window-shopped its many boutiques that border the lobby like tempting jewels. This time, we were to indulge in the cuisine of La Plazuela, spend one night in the sunset-adjacent top-floor suite, and kick back for a brief staycation.


The adobe architecture is a reflection of the hotel’s 400-year history. Photo courtesy La Fonda on the Plaza.

Besides the well-preserved and impeccably updated architecture of the building, one of the most notable virtues of La Fonda on the Plaza is its collection of artwork. From lobby to hallways to guest rooms (with one of the hotel’s themes being “in Every Room: A Story of the Art”) the art is sourced from Native American and other artists always with a connection to the designers, builders, and owners of the hotel. Staying at La Fonda feels a little like living inside a gallery.

Hand-carved beams, New Mexican furnishings and paintings by local artists decorate the hotel lobby. Photo courtesy La Fonda on the Plaza.

Even the signature walls of windows surrounding La Plazuela, the centerpiece restaurant, carry through the celebration of art with hand-painted motifs by artist Ernest Martinez in a variety of colorful flora, fauna, and Native designs. The effect adds to a cheerful dining experience and a delight to lobby strollers.


The beautiful La Plazuela restaurant is the heart of La Fonda. Photo courtesy La Fonda on the Plaza.

We headed to the restaurant for dinner early enough to enjoy the evening’s sunset from our room. We ordered the scrumptious scallop dish and the lobster mac and cheese and were both delighted to enjoy some gourmet seafood. As former spoiled Floridians living seaside, we always appreciate good fish in our new landlocked environs. John’s strawberry salad which sat on his plate like a small sculpture and my more traditional house salad were tasty. With a second cocktail in hand and some ice cream creation for dessert, we headed up to our suite, bellies full and hearts happy. Choosing the sunset for our evening’s entertainment, we missed one of the local talented acts performing that night in the La Fiesta Lounge. Live music is a staple on Thursdays through Saturday nights,


Enjoy a drink while watching the sunset at the Bell Tower Rooftop Bar. Photo courtesy La Fonda on the Plaza.

We made sure to position ourselves for one of Santa Fe’s legendary sunsets. Also legendary is the Bell Tower Rooftop Bar which opens in May where both out-of-towners and locals fend for the best views of the nightly spectacle. Our terrace, spacious enough to host a sunset party, was close enough to the lounge to hear some oohs and ahs as the sun set, the occasional clinking of glass, but without the crowds. A comfy chaise lounge with a cocktail by my side made for the ideal sunset view.

The evening was peaceful, and we turned in early. Both early risers, we savored our fifth-floor terrace view with a quick survey of Santa Fe’s beautiful downtown area. Shops were opening, people were slowly filling the streets and the skies were as blue as ever. 

Iconic hand-painted windows line the walls of La Plazuela. Photo Kim Weiss.

We made our way back to La Plazuela for our second delicious meal, again cheered by the myriad of painted glass windows, always seeing some colorful image for the first time. With my eye on the Trout and Eggs, for next time, I chose a more locally appreciated dish, Huevos Oaxaca complete with poblano peppers, and salsa and always served with chili (Like everything else in New Mexico!). Having been to the dentist the day before, John enjoyed the house oatmeal. The coffee was rich and robust, the servers more than accommodating, and we can’t wait to come back.


Enjoy a walk through The Plaza and shop at the local Indian market. Photo Kim Weiss.

When you visit La Fonda on the Plaza be sure to ask for a docent tour to learn about its remarkable and rich history, part of which includes being a Harvey House. City records show that the hotel sits on the site of the town’s first inn, established when the city was founded by Spaniards in 1607. This makes La Fonda the oldest hotel corner in America. You’ll be steps away from The Plaza, walking distance from Santa Fe’s trademark Indian market, restaurants, and galleries, and if you’re visiting in the summertime, a band will most likely be performing – for free – on The Plaza’s outdoor stage. In winter, holiday lights will dazzle you. Spring and fall…well, you’ll enjoy the finest weather with Santa Fe’s almost perpetual sunshine.

From sunrise to sunset, year-round, put La Fonda on your calendar and enjoy Santa Fe, the capital city of the state, and, perhaps, the creative and cultural heart of New Mexico.


Cover photo courtesy La Fonda on the Plaza

Kim Weiss has worked as a PR Professional for decades, most notably heading up the publicity department from 1994-2019 for the major book publisher, HCI Books, best known for launching the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Currently, she runs Kim Weiss Publishing Services and freelances as a publicist for numerous authors. Kim is also the author of her own book, Sunrise Sunset: 52 Weeks of Awe & Gratitude (HCI – 2012). She lives with her husband John, and cats Sachi and Anabelle in Santa Fe, NM.