A Staycation at the Castañeda Hotel

I love to travel and am often drawn to places that evoke the act and movement and spirit of travel… spots large and small that feel like places of transference or convergence have a special pull. While you might not think of the somewhat sleepy town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, as such a place, it is. Historically an important spot along the Old Santa Fe Trail as well as the railroad system, LVNM is where the Plains meet the Rockies and where travelers stopped as they moved East to West as well as North to South.

A Better Las Vegas

And perhaps no place within Las Vegas better exemplifies these crossroads like the historic Castañeda Hotel. Indeed, you can arrive at the hotel by train and simply walk across the platform and step up onto the beautiful wrap-around porch. Even if you arrive by the more mundane method of a car as I did, you feel the energy of movement and importance of location. When Fred Harvey was planning his hotels across the West, he decided Las Vegas was an obvious place to stop. In fact, you can still take Amtrak’s Chicago to Los Angeles Southwest Chief between Harvey locations — The Castañeda to La Posada in Winslow, AZ, and stop in Lamy, NM, too, to make your way up to Santa Fe’s La Fonda. Harvey wanted America to explore and the hotels still evoke that spirit of adventure.

The outside of the Castañeda Hotel shows the corner angle of an old New Mexico building with archways all around it.
Photo courtesy of the Castañeda Hotel

The Castañeda’s quaint bar-restaurant has recently been renamed Trackside, which is indeed fitting. The atmosphere is a blend of relaxed yet anticipatory as you nibble some appetizers before catching your train. While the temptation to linger at the Castañeda with its sweet, updated Victoria vibe is strong, I did want to explore the town itself. What I found was a beautiful, walkable place filled with gorgeous period architecture. What was once a crossroads now feels a bit off the beaten path, but this only lends it more charm. If you like antique and thrift shopping, this is your place, and the plaza is one of the most beautiful in New Mexico. There are wonderful food spots — don’t miss the gargantuan pastries at Charlie’s Spic & Span but save room for The Skillet’s amazing green chile cheeseburger.

Story by Alex Hanna

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