It started life as a Santa Fe Railway hospital, but today, Albuquerque’s stylish Hotel Parq Central is a Four-Diamond boutique hotel. The property, on the National Register of Historic Places, underwent an exterior restoration and complete interior renovation before it opened its doors in 2010. One of the great features of their location, in the city’s EDO (East of Downtown) district that sits between downtown and trendy Nob Hill, is the grounds. The hotel, sitting on 2.3 acres, covers a city block. The landscaped back courtyard, once the purview of ambulatory patients, is now an oasis in the city for guests to enjoy on warm days. There is even a hot tub out there.
The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway had a large impact on the history of the southwest. Many tourists took advantage of their rail services to explore the American southwest. Harvey House hotels and eating houses and even special tours sprung up to service these tourists. Albuquerque was a big hub for the railroad with lots of repair and maintenance facilities and many of the ATSF employees were based here. The railway took care of their own and had hospitals for employees. In 1926, they opened Santa Fe Hospital (later changed to the Santa Fe Railway Hospital) on Central Avenue, which a few years later became the iconic Route 66 as it went through the city. Until 1961, the hospital only served the railroad’s male employees; in 1961, it began to offer care to their families, also. In the 1980s, it became Memorial Hospital, a private psychiatric facility.
The owners paid homage to the past and retained many elements from the building’s history and design details. The exterior is much as it was when the hospital opened in 1926. The lobby features custom-made tiles inspired by the originals found on the building’s exterior. Medical, railroad and other vintage memorabilia decorate common areas throughout the Parq Central. Custom-made furniture echoes elements of past eras. The sophisticated décor evokes a bit retro 50s feeling with its sparse lines, avoiding the southwest clichés that are common in local hotel interiors. This hotel could be anywhere.
All room rates include an expanded continental buffet breakfast that includes fresh-squeezed juices, savory baked selections, including quiches, and fair-trade coffee served in the Parlor. On warm days, guests can take their repast to the outdoor terrace. Guests also get free parking, Wi-Fi, a fitness center, a hot tub in the courtyard, as well as shuttle service within a three-mile radius of the property and to the airport. They also have coin-operated laundry facilities for guests’ use. The hotel has a great security feature. Key cards are need to access the grounds from the back parking lot and guest floors can only be reached with a key card inserted either into the elevator or the stairwell door.
The Parq Central not only welcomes guests’ dogs, they have an official hotel dog. Molly, a border collie, is often there to great you upon arrival. Guests are welcome to walk the delightful Molly or even take her to the courtyard to play. The staff is welcoming and attentive and there to accommodate guests’ needs.
While it was gutted to the bones, the original layout was retained. The rooms are definitely not cookie-cutter with 44 different floor plans for the 74 rooms. The top of the line rooms are the Executive King Suites, 9 over-sized rooms set on the building’s corners with expansive windows on three sides. The Deluxe Kings and Doubles offer more space than the Traditional Rooms, which come with either two double beds or a king. Executive King Rooms are either on a corner featuring windows on three sides or overlooking the courtyard. There are also one-bedroom suites. All the bathrooms, have walk-in showers and Caesarstone vanities. Rooms and suites in The Residence and the Cottage Suites all offer soaking tubs.
The Residence, with nine guest rooms and suites is located across the courtyard the southwest corner of the property. In the old days, it was the Chief Surgeon’s residence. The refurbished building is much as it was in 1926. The design retained the original doors and windows remained. The exterior trim was removed, reconditioned and returned to the original colors. The cozy Family Room on the first floor offers a place to gather with friends and family and can be a quiet retreat to read or relax
The Powerhouse with its tall smokestack produced the steam that heated the hospital. Today, the restored building offers there guest accommodations on its second floor; a Deluxe, an Executive King Room and a one-bedroom suite.
The Cottage Suites, a new building on the west side of the property offers three one-bedroom suites.
The Apothecary Lounge
The Apothecary Lounge, named for the colorful apothecary bottles on display, sits the hotels’ rooftop on the former site of a water tower. Classic cocktails such as The Pink Lady and The Sazerac recall a bygone era as does the large selection of bitters that will “make every cocktail sparkle”. In addition, there are contemporary seasonal cocktails and a selection of hand-crafted beers on offer. The menu offers small plates for guests’ enjoyment. In warm weather, guests can take their morning coffee up to the patio and enjoy the mountain and downtown views. During Balloon Fiesta, you might even catch sight of an errant balloon going by. In the evenings, enjoy Albuquerque’s famous sunsets from this vantage point. As the day darkens, you can feast your eyes on the city lights.
If you’re looking a place to stay in the middle of Albuquerque that combines contemporary style with a bit of The Duke City’s history, look no further than the Parq Central Hotel.
Author’s note: We were guests of the Hotel Parq Central. Their generous hospitality did not affect this post in any way.