Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque, New Mexico is not only a luxurious, AAA Four-Diamond Boutique Hotel, it was thoughtfully designed with elements paying homage to the importance of the ancestral Puebloans of Chaco Canyon and current Pueblo culture.
In New Mexico, there are 19 pueblos, all sharing a common culture and general early history. You'll find out more about this history by visiting Chaco Canyon, located about three hours northwest of Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque. Chaco Canyon is a major cultural center where the ancestral Puebloans built impressive structures, developed complex governmental systems, and connected with cultures from afar through trade routes. Now a National Historical Park and Unesco World Heritage Centre, Chaco Canyon contains some of the most important culturally significant places important to the Pueblo and Hopi people. Many design elements from this area are incorporated into this beautiful boutique hotel in Albuquerque, NM.
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Visiting Chaco Canyon
The period from 1020 AD through approximately 1150 AD is considered the height of the Chacoan culture. The sites you can visit are known for ceremonial, trade, and a high level of social organization. Structural elements, still visible today, include multi-story construction using advanced masonry techniques. The buildings were often aligned to solar and lunar cycles and showed evidence of a connection to sacred mountains, mesas, and other sites of spiritual significance. As you visit the site and museum at the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, you will begin to see the inspiration for the designers of Hotel Chaco.
Hotel Chaco: A Boutique Hotel in Albuquerque
Hotel Chaco, located in Albuquerque's Historic Old Town center, is across the street from the new urban Sawmill District. The hotel is a AAA Four-Diamond boutique hotel and part of Heritage Hotels and Resorts, a group of hotels based in New Mexico known for integrating the local history, culture, and natural environment into their hotel designs.
Prominent architectural firm Gensler conceived the hotel's design. The façade, with its pale sandstone colors, creates an atmosphere that blends in with the Southwest's dry arid climate. Many of the design features are indicative of elements found in Chaco Canyon and New Mexico's pueblos.
Interior Designer Kris Lajeskie of Santa Fe is responsible for the colors and materials used in creating the interiors. Her goal was to evoke the spirit of Chaco, which is immediately apparent as you walk through the front doors of the hotel.
Even the logo and branding of the name Hotel Chaco relates to Chaco Canyon. Hotel designers used the symbol of the toad. The Mexican Spadefoot Toad is indigenous to Chaco Canyon. During the excavation of the Chaco Canyon site, carved frogs were found buried in the rooms of the Pueblo.
Wandering Hotel Chaco
As I walked into Hotel Chaco's lobby, I felt a sense of tranquility and serenity. The soft desert colors and design elements used in this boutique hotel in Albuquerque, NM connected me with the spirit of Chaco Canyon. Both the sandstone and brown colors of the walls and floor add to the feeling of a high desert landscape and help to create a calm, quiet space.
I appreciated the Native American connection of the design elements in the hotel. Adding to the appeal of the hotel for me was that it was very comfortable and pet-friendly, two pluses in my book.
Hotel Chaco Art
Hotel Chaco houses a marvelous collection of original contemporary Native American and New Mexican art. This prominent display of artwork alone is worthy of a stay at the hotel. As an art lover, I appreciated the significance and quality of the artwork throughout the hotel. The lobby doors, the artwork and light fixtures on the walls, and the staff uniforms are part of the hotel's ambiance and design aesthetic. The décor of each guest suite blends with the artwork installed in its interior. The sandstone color of the building and landscaping, spiritual in its simplicity, brought out the essence of the Southwest for me.
The art collection represents the work of more than 23 celebrated Native American artists, representing many of the pueblos and tribes in the Southwest. The artistry adds much to the spirit of the hotel.
Hotel Chaco Entry and Lobby
Entering the hotel, you are greeted at the front door by a design from artist Tammy Garcia from Santa Clara Pueblo. She created the doors and the Oculus in the lobby. The black doors are an interpretation of the renowned black pottery designs from Santa Clara Pueblo. Adorning the doors is the image of Avanyu, the water serpent, which also appears in petroglyphs around the Southwest and specifically Chaco Canyon. Tammy's vision for the Oculus reveals three eagles. The idea is to draw your eyes up to the sky.
The bronze sculpture in the middle of the lobby by Joe Cajero of Jemez Pueblo, called Oneness, symbolizes the cohesion of nature, body, mind, and spirit, both male and female. Today, it signifies diversity and unites the lobby as we observe the diversity of people who come and stay.
Above the front desk, artist Roxanne Swentzell, Santa Clara Pueblo, created a ceramic sculpture fused with metal called the Guardian. This artwork represents the guardian angel of the hotel and looks over visitors as they come and go.
The hotel staff greets you dressed in uniforms designed by Patricia Michaels, Taos Pueblo, who appeared in Project Runway. Each outfit is inspired by painted pottery shards found at Chaco Canyon. The clothing adds to the hotel's Native American heritage symbolism.
This art is just a sampling of what you can see at Hotel Chaco. A visit will let you encounter more of the marvelous artwork on display as you wander the halls and open spaces around the hotel.
Hotel Chaco Amenities
You absolutely experience the serenity as you walk about the hotel. The calmness that prevails is inviting, whether you're sitting out in the garden, relaxing by the pool, reading in the chill room off the lobby, or having a drink at one of the hotel's bars or restaurants.
Art abounds at the Gallery Hózhó and the hotel gift shop, Daakya. As I was told, “Hózhó is a Diné (Navajo) word encompassing beauty, health, order, and interconnectedness. Used to describe a state of being, hózhó describes acting in accordance with nature and integrity.” This interaction is what you discover throughout Hotel Chaco.
Dining and Drink
There are several inviting options for dining and relaxing at Hotel Chaco, both indoors and outdoors with a view.
Level 5 Restaurant
Venture up to the top floor, to Level 5, and enjoy a drink while watching the sunset and taking in the marvelous city skyline.
The view of Albuquerque is mesmerizingly calming in the evenings. Enjoy dining either inside or outdoors at Level 5 Restaurant. The cuisine is created with both native New Mexican and Latin American ingredients infused with international panache.
Cafe Options and Wine at Hotel Chaco
Equinox Café and Bar in the lobby is perfect for Tapas, a quick bite, or a cocktail.
Crafted Café is another dining option. In keeping with the art theme, New Mexican artisan wine headlines the menu at Crafted Café. You can enjoy a sparkling wine from Gruet, the winery that put New Mexican wine back on the map in 1984.
For still wine there is Casa Rodeña, Milagro, Noisy Water, Vivác, or Sheehan. These are the up-and-coming wineries that make up the New Mexican wine scene today. They all merit a tasting so you, too, can discover what others know about New Mexico's wine.
Fun fact: New Mexico has been producing wine since the 1600s.
You can also enjoy a light bite while sipping the wine at Equinox Cafe & Bar.
Pet-Friendly Hotel Chaco
For those who travel with pets, as I do, you'll find Hotel Chaco to be pet-friendly. Chloe (shown below) and I enjoyed our daily strolls through the hotel grounds. We often walked to the grassy areas of the Heritage Hotels and Resorts sister hotel, Hotel Albuquerque, located next door.
Why You Should Go to Hotel Chaco
I found this art-filled boutique hotel in Albuquerque, NM to be a convenient location because it seemed I could travel to all of Albuquerque's attractions or dining experiences, including the Historic Old Town within 10 minutes.
Hotel Chaco would be an ideal stop on a tour of the actual ancestral Puebloan sites. You can visit the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which lies in the northwestern part of New Mexico between Albuquerque and Farmington. The park is also an International Dark Sky Park, which makes a visit even more enticing. Imagine seeing the ancient walls under a starry night! In addition to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, the World Heritage property includes Aztec Ruins National Monument and several smaller Chaco sites.
If you love Native American and New Mexican art, then Hotel Chaco, a boutique hotel in Albuquerque, is a must-stay. For more ideas on things to do and see in New Mexico have a look at Wander articles by our southwestern travel experts.