A postcard for Albuquerque’s scenic side, Los Poblanos hotel is a fantasy farmstay set on 25 acres of lavender fields, cottonwood trees and gardens, just off the Rio Grande and below the Sandia Mountains. Designed by one of New Mexico’s most gifted architects, the 1930s-era lodges have pitched tin roofs, fireplaces and patios – perfect for gazing out over the purple-flecked ranchlands.
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A selection of organic lavender spa products made on the farm
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm, though guests arriving earlier are welcome to use the bikes, pool and gym.
Double rooms from £181.38 ($242), including tax at 7.438 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional service charge of 4% per room per night on check-out.
Rates don't usually include breakfast.
Pick up new skills at cooking classes or assorted weekly workshops, including aromatherapy lessons using the home-grown lavender, classes on raising barnyard animals, and gardening tips. The Farm Shop stocks an impressive selection of soaps, oils and salves, all made on the premises.
At the hotel
Gardens; gym; free WiFi throughout. Bikes are free to borrow. In rooms: flatscreen TV, Tivoli alarm clock, minibar, the farm’s own lavender bath products.;
Our favourite rooms
The rooms have beamed ceilings, authentic New Mexican art and wood-burning fireplaces for those cold desert nights. Greely 2 Suite has the prettiest tiled bathroom, an especially secluded private patio and views of the garden, designed by landscape architect Rose Greely.
The heated outdoor saltwater pool is surrounded by loungers, and gated to keep little ones safe.
Since things start quite early on a farm, the hotel thoughtfully provides earplugs, lest strutting peacock calls rouse light sleepers. Bring wellingtons if you want to explore – farmyard terrain makes short work of ruining heels.
Farm 4 Guestroom is a wheelchair-accessible room with a roll-in shower and courtyard patio. Smoking is only allowed by the willow tree near the pond.
All ages are welcome, and most will enjoy visiting the farm, feeding the alpacas and roaming the ranch. Children under 12 can stay for free; over-12s are charged $25 a night. The hotel offers free pack ’n’ plays, and many rooms have a sleeper sofa.
The hotel grows much of its food – and bath-product ingredients – at the organic farm on site. Cleaning products are all biodegradable and the staff compost.
Nab a seat on the patio to enjoy the lavender-scented air and occasional glimpses of the peacock perched in his tree.
Ladies should don their chunkiest turquoise and a sundress for alfresco dinner. Gentlemen are fine in plaid shirts. Nearly anything goes at breakfast, and many diners are dressed for outdoor adventures.
The restaurant looks and tastes the part of a New Mexican farmhouse. The ever-changing ‘field-to-fork’ menus feature dishes made with home-grown produce and ingredients sourced from local farms. Early risers should go for the spicy shakshuka with homemade pita bread or the chili-, cheese- and protein-packed breakfast burrito. If you prefer the sweet stuff, order a stacked plate of blue corn pancakes smothered in maple syrup. For dinner, start with the artisan cheese plate before moving on to mains of lavender-crusted chicken, sesame stuffed trout or seasonal roasted veggies. End on a high note with the farm’s specialty honey cake or a scoop of blueberry lavender ice cream.
There is no separate bar, but the restaurant's award-winning drinks list includes sustainably-produced wines, New Mexican tipples and local craft beers. The artisan cocktails are made with organic ingredients from local farms and lavender plucked from Los Poblanos’ fields, small-batch spirits and home-made bitters and simple syrups.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 10.30am (11.30am on weekends); dinner is available Wednesdays to Sundays from 5pm to 9pm, by reservation only. Bar Campo is open daily from 4pm to 9pm.
Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm is located in Albuquerque’s North Valley, just off the Rio Grande.
Albuquerque International Airport is 10 miles away, and offers flights to Chicago (www.united.com), Baltimore (www.southwest.com), Los Angeles (www.aa.com) and other major airports.
Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line, which cuts through the American West, makes a stop in Albuquerque, only five miles from the hotel. The line – which includes commentary from National Park service guides – travels from Los Angeles to Chicago, via Albuquerque and Kansas City.
Driving in New Mexico is fairly easy, and the best way to see the desert landscape. The airport has rental kiosks, and the hotel offers free parking.
Worth getting out of bed for
After you’ve played with the baby goats, dipped into the pool, explored the gardens, sniffed the lavender products in the Farm Shop and snapped photos of Albert the peacock, prepare to spend some time exploring Albuquerque’s great outdoors. Across from the hotel is the Los Poblanos Open Space, which has over 130 acres of gardens and trails. For an all-American afternoon, see the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Triple-A team for the LA Dodgers at Isotopes Baseball Park on Avenida Cesar Chavez Southeast. One night, ride up the mountain via the 2.7 mile Tramway (the longest aerial tramway in the world, donchaknow), and dine on top of the Sandia Mountains at Santiago's, more than 10,000 feet above sea level, with views over 11,000 square miles. New Mexico is famous for its turquoise, and the Sandia Indian Market Center is one of the best places to buy some. Bien Mur sells handmade Native American arts and crafts, Navajo rugs, sand paintings and jewellery. In October, bring binoculars to catch glimpses of the 6,000 colourful hot-air balloons that take to the sky each year for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, said to be the most photographed event on the planet.
A short walk from the hotel on Mountain Road Northwest, Seasons uses local ingredients to prepare sweet-corn griddlecakes, rotisserie chicken and the best margaritas in town. Take a seat outside for the best mountain views. Farm & Table on Fourth Street Northwest grows its own produce, and sources the rest, including beer and wine, from nearby producers for its seasonal Southwestern dishes. On the edge of Downtown, a 15-minute drive from the hotel, Artichoke Café consistently earns rave reviews from locals and visitors for its modern American dishes, including steamed artichokes and an excellent tea-smoked duck breast.
Ride bikes or, better, horses toFlying Star Café, a casual all-day restaurant a quick walk from the hotel. Try the NM Burger, a state specialty topped with local chillis and a slick of cheese. If you choose to pony up, there’s a hitching post right in front, and outdoor seating with a stone fireplace.
Travel three miles south of the hotel along Rio Grande Boulevard to visit the tasting room for prestigious New Mexico winery St. Clair (1325 De Baca Road). The restaurant pours the best local wines, and hosts live music most nights.
I’m fully aware I’m not the first person to profess such borderline-religious fanaticism, but let’s just say I’d been dreaming about visiting O’Keeffe Country, New Mexico, since the first time I saw her paintings of the Black and White Places.
As my plane dipped down alongside the melting sun, I could already feel the draw of this bucolic mountain state. A short taxi ride from the centre of Albuquerque and I was delivered down a long tree-lined path to a neatly lit grove at the foot of two enormous silos that read: Los Poblanos Ranch est.1934. Not your usual hotel reception, I thought, as a peacock waltzed by on its way to bed.
There was a sudden heart-skip moment as it became pitch black night time in a matter of seconds and I’d forgotten what it felt like to be in such a quiet dark place. With my wits about me, I followed an eclipse of moths towards the one bright light that was shining atop the main door of the Inn. It’s a nice feeling to be lost and then found again so immediately…
When my eyes finally adjusted to the candle light, what laid before me was the most enchanting of courtyards; strewn from the ceiling were velveteen Bougainvilleas and traditional hanging pueblo chilis. In the tiniest of nooks sat pale rose petal confetti in jars on antique oak tables. This wasn’t a place trying to be beautiful, it just was.
Perhaps this is down to the nostalgic charm of the main building: all poised original New Mexican simplicity. It was here that I exchanged my name for a key and was shown to my Farm Deluxe Room overlooking a lavender garden and a wishing well. The door swung open to a large airy space with a cast-iron four poster bed, organic white cotton sheets, a writing desk and a quaint fireplace. I cranked open the windows with the hope the floral breeze would fill my room with some ancient wisdom. But first, supper.
My Mrs Smith for the evening was a girl called Jane. We met in Los Angeles many moons ago and she had recently quit her job and relocated to nearby Santa Fe to become a full-time clairvoyant. She drove up to meet me for supper at the Inn’s field-to-fork restaurant – I couldn’t imagine a more perfect setting for such a reunion. I was ripe with giddiness on locally brewed beer by the time she arrived.
We ate duck and lightly sautéed vegetables in a plethora of shapes and shades, all plucked from the farm that morning. Sides of roasted roots and black rice – or ‘soil’ as they refer to it – made for one of the loveliest dining experiences of my life. We ordered three desserts just because. The honey cake (made with a little help from their resident bees) was on another level entirely. Mrs Smith was beside herself to discover such a hidden gem on her almost-doorstep.
I wandered back through the night garden to my room and crawled into bed. The following morning, I woke from a sleep so deep that I’d missed breakfast – something I never do. Luckily, the Inn staff are prepared for guests under the influence of unadulterated zen and so they gave me a coffee to-go and boxed up some pastries.
I stuffed them into my backpack and borrowed a bicycle to explore the grounds in daylight. Beyond the blossoming rose garden beside the saltwater swimming pool, past the cheerful llama farm and around the sleepy local neighborhood full of picture perfect adobe architecture – it was a workout well spent. I later found myself at the door of the Inn’s own (and expertly curated) organic Farm Shop where I bought an entire shelf of homemade jam. You can take the girl out of England…
That morning, I made sure not to miss breakfast. Ground blue corn and chia pancakes with fresh fruit set me up for a solo road trip I had planned for the afternoon. I hired a car and set out on my journey north to Georgia O’Keefe’s home and studio, just under two hours away in Abiquiú. I took a slight detour to visit the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks: massive tipi-like structures leftover from a volcanic eruption six million years ago.
The sky met my mood as I arrived at the gate of Ms O’Keeffe’s home. Greeted by a guide who took us in and around the property, I was happily spellbound. This was nothing less than a pilgrimage for me.
On my (satisfied) return to the Inn, pulling up the path by the dappled light of the willow folds, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a line from one of my favorite children’s books, The Minpins by Roald Dahl: ‘And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’
This is what the Los Poblanos Inn does best: magic.
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