When people think of a bed and breakfast, they often imagine a stately Victorian mansion, dainty lace doilies, and overstuffed furniture. What surprises people when they book a stay at one of the New Mexico’s Bed & Breakfast Association member inns is the unique and diverse lodgings the state offers. With options ranging from adobe haciendas and casitas tucked into the wilderness to historic family homes surrounded by vineyards, New Mexico’s bed and breakfasts turn the staid and stuffy notion of a B&B on its head.
“There’s no such thing as a standard B&B in New Mexico,” says Kathy Hiatt, co-owner of the Bottger Mansion of Old Town, in Albuquerque. “We have the whole range—historic properties, big houses with common areas, small freestanding casitas, some in the middle of everything visitors want to do and some well off the beaten path for that away-from-it-all experience. The B&B industry has been the savior of many old historic buildings in the state that would otherwise be left to ruin. You’d never get to see them any other way.”
For visitors, much of the appeal of a New Mexico B&B is their authentic look at the culture and people of the Land of Enchantment. Rooms are often furnished with artisan-crafted Southwestern furniture, rugs, and artwork. Breakfasts feature locally grown and sourced ingredients prepared in traditional ways and always with guest preferences in mind. An inn’s owners often live and work on the property, providing concierge service unimaginable elsewhere. They offer not only local color and a wealth of knowledge about their areas, but also have a keen interest in upholding health, hygiene, and service standards. This might include contactless check-in/out, up-to-date cleaning protocols, and participation in the New Mexico Safe Certified program to ensure guests and their families, as well as inn employees and their families, remain safe.
What hasn’t changed is the attention to detail and guest comfort, and of course, made-to-order, gourmet morning meals. If it’s been a while since a visitor has stayed at a bed and breakfast, they might have enjoyed a self-serve buffet breakfast in the company of other guests. Now inns have turned to room delivery. Some have also renovated room entrances and added outdoor seating areas or other amenities to accommodate heightened safety standards.
That’s what Hiatt and her husband, Steve, have done to reassure their guests, many of whom return regularly for the Hiatts’ hospitality and legendary breakfasts. One of their guests’ favorite breakfasts, Waffles with Apple-Green Chile Compote, highlights the New Mexico staples of green chile and apples in a sweet and savory dish with a touch of heat.
“We’ve had visitors say they don’t want to stay in a hotel because they don’t want to be around so many people,” Hiatt says. “People still want to get away, so they are opting for B&Bs.”
The Hiatts realized their dream of owning an inn 17 years ago when they purchased the Bottger Mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and right in the middle of Albuquerque’s Historic Old Town District. The American Foursquare house, built in 1912, incorporated advanced technology for the time. It was the first residence in Albuquerque to have gas lighting, plus there were speaking tubes to all the rooms, pressed-tin ceilings in the three main rooms, and a dumb waiter to carry meals to the upper floor. Gangsters, businesspeople, and celebrities like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Janis Joplin have stayed there.
Fascinating people, authenticity, local traditions, and a great meal await guests at any Bed & Breakfast Association property, Hiatt says.