Planning a Trip to Santa Fe? El Rey Court Is the Boutique Stay You're Seeking

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Jay Carroll recalls his first glimpse of the former El Rey Inn in artsy Santa Fe, New Mexico. He immediately knew that this Adobe Revival structure — as it has never been out of operation since opening in 1936, and welcomed thousands of guests over the years — needed a major rehab.

Carroll, a multi-hyphenate creative with a resume that includes creative director at Levi's and founder of boutique olive oil brand Wonder Valley, completely overhauled the old motor inn's 86 rooms and rechristened the place El Rey Court.

"A lot of Santa Fe is in this 'Santa Fe style,'" Carroll tells Hunker. "We didn't want to go too strongly in that direction." Yet, Carroll did take inspiration from Santa Fe's most famed artist, Georgia O'Keefe, as well as Alexander Girard, an architect, textile artist, and interior designer whose works are at the city's Museum of International Folk Art. The result is a modernized southwestern aesthetic that's still intensely local, with wood-fired ceramics sourced from Abiquiú and textiles out of Chimayo. ("They do this style of weaving in their little town that's known the world over," says Carroll.)

Updating the plumbing and electrical—then adding a bar/restaurant in the main building, born out of a former breakfast nook—helped El Rey Court (christened with a new name) sail into cool status. Carroll, who has a background in fashion (at Levi Strauss & Co.) and also works in photography, brought back the old logo.

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Lobby

The Native American portrait on the wall, says Carroll, was a gift to the property in exchange for a guest's stay back in the 1950s.

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el rey court hotel guest room
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Room

Anchored by bedside lamps from West Elm and platform beds designed by the team at El Rey Court, additional decor in the rooms includes headboards from Centinela Traditional Arts in Chimayo, and the large art prints by Field Studies Editions in Santa Fe.

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Room

There's a high-low mix in the guest rooms, with a little bit of IKEA (the overhead paper lamps) and West Elm (the leather sofa) along with a round area rug by Knight Mills, Pepe & Carols sconces, and turned wood pieces by a friend of Carroll's (Dan John Anderson).


Based in Wisconsin, Kristine Hansen covers art, architecture, travel and food/drink, and lives in a 1920s bungalow.

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