New Mexico Travel Guide
With the exceptions of Santa Fe and Taos, two rather upscale tourist-driven destinations with some of the higher lodging rates in the Southwest, New Mexico has fairly low hotel prices. Albuquerque is loaded with chain hotels, and four or five new ones seem to open each year, further saturating the market and driving down prices. During busy times or certain festivals (the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, some of the art markets and events in Taos and Santa Fe), it can be extremely difficult to find a hotel room, and prices can be steep. Check to make sure there's no major event planned for the time you're headed to New Mexico, and book well ahead if so. You'll find bigger big selection and some very good deals by checking the usual major travel sites, such as www.expedia.com. You'll be charged a hotel tax, which varies among towns and counties, throughout New Mexico.
Most hotels and other lodgings require you to give your credit-card details before they will confirm your reservation. If you don't feel comfortable e-mailing this information, ask if you can fax it (some places even prefer faxes). However you book, get confirmation in writing and have a copy of it handy when you check in.
If you book through an online travel agent, discounter, or wholesaler, you might even want to confirm your reservation with the hotel before leaving home—just to be sure everything was processed correctly.
Be sure you understand the hotel's cancellation policy. Some places allow you to cancel without any kind of penalty—even if you prepaid to secure a discounted rate—if you cancel at least 24 hours in advance. Others require you to cancel a week in advance or penalize you the cost of one night. Small inns and bed-and-breakfasts are most likely to require you to cancel far in advance. Most hotels allow children under a certain age to stay in their parents' room at no extra charge, but others charge for them as extra adults; find out the cutoff age for discounts.
Apartment and House Rentals
Some parts of New Mexico are popular for short- and long-term vacation rentals, such as Santa Fe, Taos, and Ruidoso.
Bed and Breakfasts
Bed-and-breakfasts in New Mexico run the gamut from rooms in locals' homes to grandly restored adobe or Victorian homes. Rates in Santa Fe and Taos can be high, but there are several properties that offer excellent value for very comparable prices; they're a little lower in Albuquerque and rival those of chain motels in the outlying areas. Good deals can be found in southern New Mexico as well.
Bed & Breakfast.com (512/322–2710 or 800/462–2632. www.bedandbreakfast.com.)
Bed & Breakfast Inns Online (800/215–7365. www.bbonline.com.)
BnB Finder.com (888/469–6663. www.bnbfinder.com.)
New Mexico Bed and Breakfast Association (800/661–6649. www.nmbba.org.)
With a direct home exchange you stay in someone else's home while they stay in yours. Some outfits also deal with vacation homes, so you're not actually staying in someone's full-time residence, just their vacant weekend place.
Home Exchange.com. Home Exchange.com; $9.95 per month for a membership. 800/877–8723. www.homeexchange.com.
HomeLink International. HomeLink International; $89 yearly for Web access and listing in the catalog. 800/638–3841. www.homelink.org.
Intervac U.S. Intervac U.S; $99 for membership (includes Web access and a catalog). 800/756–4663. www.intervac-homeexchange.com.
Hostels offer bare-bones lodging at low, low prices—often in shared dorm rooms with shared baths—to people of all ages, though the primary market is young travelers, especially students. Most hostels serve breakfast; dinner and/or shared cooking facilities may also be available. In some hostels you aren't allowed to be in your room during the day, and there may be a curfew at night. Nevertheless, hostels provide a sense of community, with public rooms where travelers often gather to share stories. Many hostels are affiliated with Hostelling International (HI), an umbrella group of hostel associations with some 4,500 member properties in more than 70 countries. Other hostels are completely independent and may be nothing more than a really cheap hotel.
Membership in any HI association, open to travelers of all ages, allows you to stay in HI-affiliated hostels at member rates. One-year membership is about $28 for adults; hostels charge about $10 to $30 per night. Members have priority if the hostel is full; they're also eligible for discounts around the world, even on rail and bus travel in some countries.
Several New Mexico communities have hostels, including Albuquerque (there are two), Cloudcroft, Cuba, Oscuro (south of Carrizozo), Santa Fe, Taos, Truth or Consequences, and Tucumcari.
Hostelling International—USA (240/495–1240. www.hiusa.org.)