A dreamy historic inn, lavender farm, and restaurant provide friends — longing for nature and nurture in the great American Southwest — with a picture-perfect oasis.
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — If you watch too much TV, you might only think of Albuquerque as the rundown, barren landscape featured in Breaking Bad episodes. But is the complete opposite: A rustic estate with an award-winning restaurant, h four-poster beds, en-suite fireplaces, and a garden pool surrounded by lavender fields set against purple mountains.
My friends and I came across the desert dreamscape while planning a trip that we hoped (but never expected) would rival our favorite group vacation on an incredible Argentine estancia (I wrote about La Bamba de Areco for Popupla) — where the horses run wild, the wine flows freely, and the WiFi is decidedly defunct.
With a tighter budget and even tighter schedule, we decided to hunt for nature and gastronomic bliss closer to home. Would we really find it a mere fifteen minutes from the Albuquerque airport? The short answer: yes.
The heavenly scent of lavender is everywhere at Los Poblanos. The rooms are stocked with shampoos and lotions; there's lavender lemon water and a whole cocktail menu of purple herb shrubs and syrups. The gift shop sells lavender gelato, lavender candles, and lavender lip balm on antique tables alongside sage bundles, artisanal cheeses, and handcrafted home goods.
The inn is an hour by car from Santa Fe, but it turns out there's more than enough to do in Albuquerque for a long weekend. The , and a $25 trip to the top yields spectacular views and plenty of scenic trails to hike. You can also venture over to the for a hike through volcanic rocks and glimpse some of the earliest art in the Southwest. Old Town is the go-to for most tourists, but if you’re looking to buy local without the kitsch, head to for an insane selection of small-batch items curated and made by locals.
And while the food at Los Poblanos is unparalleled in the city — I’m still dreaming about the lamb merguez agnolotti with piñon and sumac yogurt — there are other great culinary spots worth exploring. , housed in an adobe home dating back to 1706, is a lovely spot to grab New Mexican food after strolling Old Town. Be prepared to order your meal with red chili, green chili, or “Christmas style” — and to potentially hear your waiter wax poetic about the great debate between the two.
For a more upscale meal, serves seasonal fare with an emphasis on locally grown ingredients. Go at sunset and sit on the patio for views of fields bathed in the glow of string lights. When it comes time to quench the thirst, it's easy to find a specialty beer, especially at the industrially artsy . We stopped there en route to the airport for a pre-flight nightcap after a weekend that was equal parts adventure and relaxation. We didn't even miss Buenos Aires.