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(Brand) New Mexico

Albuquerque was once a convenient but drab gateway to the far more chic environs of Santa Fe and Taos, rating only a few harmonizes with a Southwestern charm that's not overpriced or precious, Albuquerque just might win your heart.

where to stay
La Posada de Albuquerque 125 Second St. N.W.; 800/777-5732 or 505/242-9090, fax 505/242-8664; doubles from $99. Conrad Hilton was so proud of his first hotel in his native New Mexico that he honeymooned here with Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1941. The two-story lobby has been restored to its original glamour, and it's a stunner, with Western murals, tinwork light fixtures, carved ceiling beams, Navajo art, and a bubbling tiled fountain. The rooms could stand another infusion of cash, but they have a nice, old-fashioned spareness. A historical note: Thomas O. Jones, a security chief for the Manhattan Project—responsible for evacuating the area if the Trinity Experiment were to go awry—watched the atomic flash rise off the Tularosa Basin from his fourth-floor room.

Yours Truly 160 Paseo de Corrales, Corrales; 800/942-7890 or 505/898-7027, fax 505/898-9022; doubles from $98. Strictly speaking, you aren't away from it all. Modern adobe-style houses dot the hills surrounding this polished B&B in rustic, artsy Corrales, about 15 minutes from Old Town. But the views of the Sandia Mountains are expansive, and you may even spot a coyote or roadrunner from the patio. The innkeepers have their own hot-air balloon, and offer guests a modest price break on this diversion.

Hacienda Antigua 6708 Tierra Dr. N.W.; 800/201-2986 or 505/345-5399, fax 505/345-3855; doubles from $105. When the king of Spain's emissary Don Pablo Yrisarri settled along El Camino Real 200 years ago, he built his hacienda with 20- to 30-inch-thick adobe walls, and imposing zaguan (entryway) gates and massive vigas (roof beams) cut from the forests of the Sandias. Today, it's Albuquerque's most lyrical bed-and-breakfast, warmed by the sun (thanks to discreetly placed skylights) and filled with folk art and antiques, including a two-person claw-foot tub said to have once graced a brothel in El Paso. Trains rumble past occasionally on the tracks nearby, but quiet is soon restored, and you can savor the rustle of the cottonwoods and the fragrances of the high-desert garden.

Sarabande 5637 Rio Grande Blvd. N.W.; 888/506-4923 or 505/345-4923, fax 505/345-9130; doubles from $99. The sweet Sarabande rose does in fact grow outside this romantic inn set in the rural but well-groomed North Valley. The serenity of the place is probably best appreciated from the Rose Room, with its Japanese soaking tub and patio shaded by a wisteria-covered arbor.

Casa del Granjero 414 C de Baca Lane N.W.; 800/701-4144 or 505/897-4144, fax 505/897-9788; doubles from $79. Its name means "the farmer's house," and you'll find it at the end of a dirt road in the North Valley. But there's nothing hayseedish about this historic adobe hacienda, so lavishly decorated that you expect to see a señorita rustling down the hall in a lace gown and mantilla.

Cinnamon Morning 2700 Rio Grande Blvd. N.W.; 800/214-9481 or 505/345-3541, fax 505/342-2283; doubles from $75. This stretch of Rio Grande Boulevard is a busy thoroughfare, but Sue Percilick's taste is so sharp (note the wonderful furniture made by her husband, Dick), that the traffic sounds soon fade from your radar. There's a lovely courtyard for enjoying breakfast or an afternoon sangria.

Brittania & W. E. Mauger Estate 701 Roma Ave. N.W.; 800/719-9189 or 505/242-8755, fax 505/842-8835; doubles from $79. Immaculately renovated and crisply run, this B&B located between Old Town and downtown has become a favorite of business travelers seeking refuge from impersonal hotel chains. The rooms are sunny and comfortable, and the Victorian theme is blessedly understated.

getting situated
Ask any Albuquerquean for directions, and you'll probably be told to drive either toward or away from the mountains. The granite and limestone Sandias, along this valley city's eastern border, form one of Albuquerque's three dramatic natural landmarks. The others are to the west: the Rio Grande; and beyond the city's sprawl, the West Mesa, with its crown of five extinct volcanoes. Duke City (the nickname comes from the city's 18th-century namesake, the Duke of Alburquerque—the first r was later dropped) was once a major hub for travelers by road, rail, and air, and a lot of people still pass through. Much to commuters' chagrin, the city is smack at the junction of I-25 and I-40.

You can reach most of the downtown area via Central Avenue, which is both the city's main street and a portion of historic Route 66. Old Town is Albuquerque's foremost tourist attraction, a tree-shaded, shop-filled plaza where Spanish settlers first set up housekeeping in 1706. Nob Hill takes up about 15 blocks of Central Avenue east of the University of New Mexico campus, and is home to the city's most stylish shops.

a room with a vibe
Quaint, it ain't. But that's the whole idea when you run a bed-and-breakfast tribute to jazz—you wouldn't want the Duke Ellington Suite to be frilly.

The theme for the offbeat Jazz Inn Bed & Breakfast came naturally to Sophia Peron: she's a passionate fan who once owned a jazz club in town. And while the Duke City may not spring to mind as one of the jazz capitals of the world, Peron is quick to offer up a few examples of what she says is a rich jazz heritage. "John Lewis from the Modern Jazz Quartet grew up here," she says. "Ben Webster was here in the thirties."

The 100-year-old house Peron picked for her B&B had the right vibes, too. "It was a cool place," she says of the earth-brown stuccoed building, in a historic neighborhood between Downtown and Nob Hill. "There had always been neat people coming and going here, and there had been some good parties." Okay, so it needed a gut rehab, but Peron, a longtime city resident and community activist, had a Rolodex of people willing to help out. The nice-looking guy across the street pitched in, too, and she wound up marrying him. Nicholas Peron, an Albuquerque native and artist—he made the sculptures in the cactus garden—brought to the partnership a collection of 5,000 jazz recordings (now touted as one of the inn's amenities), an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject, and an aesthetic yin to Sophia's yang. "He's more modern jazz, and I'm more traditional," she explains. "But we both like to hang out with musicians and nurture them and promote them."

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