Saturday, February 28, 2009

Santa Fe on a Budget

Georgia O'Keeffe, Ram's Head White Hollyhock a...Image via Wikipedia

It's rare that I travel anyplace where I have to pay for both transportation and accommodations. I've had some great vacations on the cheap. Mostly, I mooch a guestroom or a futon from a friend, while I pay for my airfare plus entrance fees to museums and some of my meals. Other times, when I traveled for my old job, I used to add a day at the beginning or end of trips, and my workmate ST and I would split the cost of an extra night in the hotel, while our airfare was covered by the org we worked for.

This upcoming trip to Santa Fe is a bit out of my usual mode as the mooching opportunities are minimal, which means I have to scope out how to do this on a budget. My mates ScribeGirl and her husband will be in Santa Fe with another couple at their time share, and I'll be in town for part of the week that they're there. So I'm arranging my own digs for five nights.

I'm not really keen on either hotels (all those identical, characterless rooms) or B&Bs (sharing close quarters with strangers). When Rosenbeans and I went to London for a week in 2004, we had accommodations that worked out really well. We stayed at the Langorf Hotel, which is actually three Edwardian terrace houses in Frognal near the Finchley Road, two of which have B&B rooms and one -- where we stayed -- that is divided into studios and small apartments. We had a little apartment with a bedroom, full bathroom, kitchenette, and lounge with a sofa bed that I slept on, a table with four chairs and a TV with four channels. We even had one of those European washer/dryers, but sadly it leaked all over the floor of the kitchenette due to a torn gasket and we had to finish washing and rinsing our underwear and socks in the tub and hang them all over the apartment to dry.

But I digress. When I started to look for a place to stay in Santa Fe, I typed things like "weekly rental Santa Fe" and "vacation apartment Santa Fe" into Google, and a few clicks kept leading me to the same place: Chapelle Street Casitas. Run in conjunction with Casa del Toro B&B, this place is made up of several properties within a couple blocks just north of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. All the reviews that I saw were glowing. I checked availability online and watched videos of several of the available spaces. I liked the sound of this unit from the description on the website:

This one has 100 year old plank wood floors and is an old old adobe that has settled a bit here and there. Bottom line is there is not a level spot in the whole room. There is a full bath with acid stained concrete walls. Best thing is gas burning stove in the Living Room that keeps everything nice and cozy.

There's also a full kitchen that looks frozen in time, circa 1965, as well as satellite TV and wifi. When I called and spoke to Paul on the phone, he told me that this unit is funky and old fashioned. I asked if it's clean, safe and quiet, and he assured me that it is. Sounds a lot like me: vintage, funky, clean and quiet. So I booked it. Here's the best part: $68/night plus tax. That comes to a bit under $400 for five nights.

Paul told me that I'd receive an e-mail confirmation in a few minutes (I did) and that it would contain several pages of detailed info about the accommodations (indeed, it did). He encouraged me to contact them with any questions, but cautioned that there would be severe consequences if I was to ask anything that's explained in the e-mail. I'm sure they get their share of needy, whiny yuppies as guests, so the peremptory strike is fair and understandable.

Now that I've got my reservations for flights and accommodations sorted, I'll move on to start my research of what to do while I'm in Santa Fe. More on that later, mates.
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  1. For future reference, check out I've never done it myself, but I've heard it can be a good way to go.

    Looking forward to hearing your adventures!

  2. Hi! You'll probably have found this out by yourself now, but what I hugely enjoyed was the bus ride from Sheridan Avenue up to Museum Hill and back. It sets you back only one dollar each way and gives you not only quite a handful of great museums but also an opportunity to do a bit of leasurely sightseeing, partly along the Santa Fe River, with - maybe - the conversation with a friendly driver thrown in (mine was still quite enthusiastic about the town and the views).

    Downtown, the Palace of the Governors, the New Mexico Art Museum with its sculpture garden, San Miguel Church and the Loretto Chapel, and, last but by no means least, Canyon Road - full of galleries - are definite must-sees. When in Canyon Road, go to Teresa Neptune's photo gallery. I bought two lovely b/w photos from her when I was visiting, even with frames, and not expensive at all. I would have also loved to see the Museum of Modern American Indian Art (I'm not sure this is its correct name but you get the idea), also downtown, which is an art academy at the same time. Whatever you do, I'm sure you'll enjoy your trip.