Because of the ongoing renovations, some places were not available, including the spa and the Bell Tower Bar. The bell rings each night at sunset, but patrons who order the namesake margarita, the Bell Ringer, also can ring the bell.
If you prefer a more exclusive nest, an area of the hotel known as The Terrace has rooms with private access and a dedicated concierge staff. The area connects to a large terrace, ideal for special events such as weddings, and has a view that includes the beautiful St. Francis Cathedral Basilica.
What I did in Santa Fe
• There's lots to do in Santa Fe. A must-do is a guided bus tour, which typically includes Canyon Road, Museum Hill, Santa Fe Plaza and the Palace of the Governors.
• Take a walking ghost tour at sundown, recalling some of the area's renowned spooky stories.
• If you like hiking, Bandelier National Monument allows you to walk in the footsteps of the ancestral Pueblo people, who made their home in the 33,677-acre park. The vista from the top includes Los Alamos National Lab in the distance.
• Of course, it should be a crime to visit the city and not check out the museums or some of the more than 200 galleries, many within walking distance of La Fonda.
• If you're there with friends, try to schedule a cooking class at Santa Fe School of Cooking, where you'll help to prepare the meal — typically New Mexican cuisine. But my favorite was a bread pudding dessert that included rum and was sprinkled with cheese. Really good. Call ahead to book a spot in one of the classes; the experience will be worth every dollar.
• Dine at one of the local restaurants. I dined at il Piatto, on vegetables bought earlier that morning at the local farmers market, and at Taberna La Boca. Also, I sampled beer at the Marble Brewery.
• Stroll through the plaza, renowned for it shopping, nightlife, annual markets — Indian market in August and wine market in the fall — and other special events.
Rates at La Fonda
Room rates at La Fonda vary, depending on the season. Rates for a regular guest room in fall start at $179 (decreasing to $159 the week of Halloween).
Rates for rooms in The Terrace start at $359.
Travel and accommodations were provided by La Fonda on the Plaza.