Albuquerque lodging: Hotel Parq Central, repurposed for a new millennium

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.

Front of Hotel Parq Centra, courtesy Hotel Parq Central

The Hotel Parq Centra, photo/courtesy Hotel Parq Central

The history

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.

Sun room, photo Steve Collins

The Conservatory was the hospital’s emergency entrance, in the old days photo/Steve Collins

 Hotel overview

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.

Sitting room, photo Steve Collins

The Family Room in The Residence photo/Steve Collins

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.

Our bedroom, photo Steve Collins

Our Executive King Room, photo/Steve Collins

The Rooms

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.

Hotel Parq Central courtyard, courtesy Hotel Parq Central

The secluded courtyard at the Hotel Parq Central photo/courtesy Hotel Parq Central

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.

Apothecary Lounge, photo Steve Collins

The top floor Apothecary Lounge, photo Steve Collins

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.

The view from the rooftop patio, photo Steve Collins

The view from the rooftop patio, photo/Steve Collins

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.




6 Responses to “Albuquerque lodging: Hotel Parq Central, repurposed for a new millennium”

  1. Brianna
    May 22, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    I like the traditionally modern design and that bed looks so comfy!

  2. Nan Schnabel
    May 22, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

    My husband and I stayed here for one night before we took a flight home to MI. I’m always the planner and my husband just comes along for the ride. I had been to NM several years ago but it was far too quick to appreciate anything. Now I’ll admit that my husband doubted my choice when we drove up to the hotel. I thought that the property was lovely but my husband who is a retired Detroit police officer was concerned about it being in downtown Albuquerque and due to it’s proximity to the freeway. Typical of a vigilant cop.

    In any event he was soon a believer. We checked in, got settled in our room then proceeded to find a place to grab a bite to eat. Two young men and the hotel dog greeted us and were able to make suggestions of several places with different cuisines. When we returned later we wandered around to check the place out and were duly impressed. The breakfast the next morning really left us with the thought that we must return here the next time we’re in NM. Proximity to the airport is a plus and….don’t worry about rooms that face the road are just fine. I guess some are afraid that street noise and freeway noise would be troublesome. We heard nothing and my husband says they had the best bed that he had slept in all week.

    We have decided that there’s a whole lot of NM to explore and trust me when I say we’ll be back soon.

    • Billie Frank
      May 23, 2014 at 8:37 am #

      Glad you enjoyed the Hotel Parq Central, Nan. The Edo neighborhood is up and coming, I’m told. We walked a few blocks to dinner and were fine. We didn’t hear any street or highway noise either. I didn’t even think about it until you mentioned it as a possibility. Hope you do return to NM again. If you haven’t made it to Santa Fe yet you’re in for a treat.

  3. jacquita
    April 2, 2015 at 7:05 am #

    I lived in Albuquerque from 1949 thru 1955 when I graduated HS. I recall this building as always sooo attractive. Reminded me of the beautiful and HISTORIC railroad depot which was so horribly razed!!! What a loss of history. Glad this was put to a wonderful purpose.

    • Billie Frank
      April 2, 2015 at 10:40 am #

      I only saw it in recent years- I think the Parq Central did a great job with their hotel conversion.

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