Room Reaction: Room 306 was a nice-sized space bathed in a soothing white, tan and cream color scheme. And there are several details that make it interesting: An upholstered cream headboard has a studded border; a framed poster-size postcard showed the hotel when it was a hospital; and coat hooks had knobs that say, "Built 1926, HPC, Est. 2010." The table/bookshelf has a pull-out compartment so that functions as a desk, with a convenient tabletop outlet for easy plug access. (Though we had to use the small ottoman as a seat.) The desk outlet was close enough to the bed so that we were able to work from under the covers on our laptop. The movable bedside lights were a great addition for bedtime reading.
In the bathroom, there's a roomy glass-walled shower, which was nice. It's never fun to shower in a space where you can barely move.
The room faced the main road, but the view wasn't anything to brag about. It looked out over a highway and not-so-great spots (see more under Location, Location, Location).
WiFi Connect: WiFi is free throughout the hotel—score! The only quibble we had was when we had to go into MySpace—no, we don't use it anymore, it was a work-related endeavor—and we were denied access. We got a message saying that it was an inappropriate site with bad images, which made us feel like pervs.
Amenities: Rooms came with bigger-than-usual bottles of C.O. Bigelow peppermint-lavender toiletries, hair dryers, a big flat-screen TV and a light terrycloth robe. We heard that minifridges were also going to be installed in rooms soon.
There was also an outdoor Jacuzzi, a small gym with state-of-the-art equipment and a free SUV service that shuttles guests to nearby locations. But if you choose to bring your own ride, parking is free. In case you need to get online, the hotel offers two complimentary touch-screen computers.
The complimentary breakfast included the usual suspects, like yogurt and pastries. Though welcome additions were the quiche, fresh fruit and cottage cheese.
Location, Location, Locations: We were torn on this. On the one hand, in a spread-out city like Albuquerque, this hotel is on the famed Route 66 and is about a mile from downtown. Though we still felt like we needed a car to get around, since the hotel's car service was only running from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. On the other hand, the hotel sits near a highway and is surrounded by no-tell motels.
What We Liked: The room managed to be modern and cozy at the same time, and as mentioned, we loved the movable bedside lamps. We also appreciated the bigger toiletry bottles, which are good for longer-locked ladies who need a lot more shampoo and conditioner. The hotel offers a number of spots to hang out, including the rooftop Apothecary Lounge with nice views of the city, a sunlight-filled conservatory, and the lobby with plenty of seating, a fireplace and books about New Mexico.
What We Didn't Like: Although we like the small bedside lamps, the room overall has poor lighting, with only a dim floor lamp and a light at the door as the only overhead lighting. It's great if you are looking for a romantic mood, but not so much otherwise. We could also use some java in the rooms or some kind of snack/drink options. The sole elevator was down for most of our stay, but we'll just it chalk up to a pre-official-opening kink that will be ironed out soon.
Service: On our employee-led tour, we were told that coffee and tea would be available each morning in a little nook on our floor. We were disappointed to find out there was no caffeine there the following day (though it was there the second morning of our stay). But one night when we asked if we could get coffee somewhere in the hotel, the desk staff brewed us a fresh pot and brought it up to our room. Service is top-notch here.
Bottom Line: Rooms start at $149 a night. This is one of the few boutique hotel options in the downtown area, and although we aren't fans of the dumpy motels nearby, it's a decent location and offers nice perks. We'd visit again.
[Photos: Jennifer Kester]