It's been a marvelous summer visiting and exploring all the wonderful and characteristic hotels that Albuquerque has to offer. I was particularly stoked about my stay at Hotel Parq Central given I've had my eye on it since its inception in 2010. I can't believe it took me 7 years to finally check in.
Three words for you: former mental asylum. Are you already hooked? Regular readers know this is my world (other than luxury hotels worldwide of course!) and I am so drawn to all things paranormal, having had plenty of paranormal experiences and being incredibily intuitive, myself. It took me a long time to accept that about myself, but I have no problem owning it now! But that's another story for another post ;)
The Location / Hotel History
Known as the gateway to Downtown Albuquerque, Hotel Parq Central sits on Central Avenue on the famed Route 66, overlooking I-25 S. Though it may not sound like the most glamorous location, it screams historic elegance. This property boasts a rooftop bar (appropriately called The Apothecary Lounge) and gives off an urban oasis vibe where Albuquerqians and tourists can truly unwind and refresh. A true boutique hotel, Hotel Parq Central has 74 guest rooms, 15 luxury suites, and 3 spacious cottages.
A little history:
Hotel Parq Central is built on the renovated site of Santa Fe hospital, built in 1926. This particular hotel was for the railroad workers part of the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad system. Fast forward to the 1980s, the property was purchased by a group of psychiatrists who named it Memorial Hospital. It was a psychiatric hospital for children and I believe adults too.
What's awesome is they've kept the exterior of the building true to its history, which is a fusion of Italian architecture and medical decor. I'd like to think the interiors were pretty close to the truth too, especially in the surgeon's quarters, which is a separate structure behind the main building. Below are some photos of the lobby and the conservatory, where the drive thru emergency service was. Can you feel the asylum vibes emanating from the photos? I do! I particularly loved the art deco windows and lamps.
Check In / The Room
It was another blistering hot day so it was lovely to find a gallon mason jar water dispenser filled with fruit-infused water waiting for me. Check in was swift & friendly. I got a mini tour of the hotel by the lady at the front desk but I made sure to go do some exploring on my own.
For those who follow me on Instagram (fromnadatoprada_) I always do a mini room tour. If you didn't catch it here, it is! I was assigned to Room 323, a luxury suite with a King size bed. I felt it was one of the best rooms, if not the, because I got a view of both downtown Albuquerque and the garden plaza. I was thoroughly impressed by how cozy the room felt, while still upholding the hotel's history.
Get a look at the studded furniture and drawers reminiscent of hospital cabinets. The bathroom, though modern, could totally pass off as a luxury hospital bathroom.
Continental breakfast buffet (not particularly impressed... more on that later)
Room Service (I had to ask about this one because it doesn't explicitly say in the hotel brochure!) Food was just okay, lacking in flavor and overpriced. Plus they were out of sweet potato fries (my dad ordered them). Though I'm not a big fan of them, I know it's a popular food item. Tip: do not include this on your menu if you can't serve it.
Business lounge and meeting rooms
Wifi throughout the hotel - a tad slow but could be because of the spirits ;)
Free parking (huge plus!)
Complimentary coffee/tea in the wing of each floor - this was cool. You never had to leave the wing of your hotel for your first cup of java or tea.
Pet friendly rooms
Fitness Center (used to be a crematorium and smells like one too, no joke!)
Landscaped garden plaza - a beautiful area to unwind, overlooking a stucco three column fountain surrounded by rocking chair (definitely asylum-like furniture in and outside the hotel)
Nearby park - for your furry pals :)
Other services include...
On site massage service
Complimentary SUV transportation within a 3 mile radius (based on availability)
Coin operated laundry facility
Same day dry cleaning service
The Apothecary Lounge
I'm going to be honest right off the bat, as I usually am. This hotel needs to seriously up their food game. I was monumentally disappointed with the food quality and service. Yes, I realize it was a tapa-style menu. Personally, I only like tapas when their in Spain. In NM, they don't seem to do it right, in my humble opinion and it's vastly overpriced. The customer service is not very friendly and I had to wait 15 minutes or so before they refilled my water, let alone make eye contact with me. Don't get me wrong, the selection of their food was okay, I just didn't find anything that tickled my fancy. The 1920s styled themed drinks were okay but nothing to write home about. Definitely go during happy hour so it feels like you're getting a deal of some sort. The restaurant is a little small but makes for good intimate dining.
However, the sunset view was utterly stunning. It's worth to go just for this.
Fortunately, this hotel is surrounded by ample dining suggestions. However, because I am the kind of person who loves to lounge in a hotel, it was disappointing that the restaurant was mediocre and didn't open until 3 pm!
The rooftop lounge is nice but I feel that's all the hotel can bank on. I feel they need to up the standards of their food and service.
The breakfast in the hotel was just okay, too. It was a continental breakfast buffet filled with pastries and cereal. I'm not a cereal person at all (don't judge!) so was on the lookout for eggs and bacon. According to what I've read, they offer this but I certainly did not see it, let alone was offered any alternatives. I didn't feel particularly cared for in the customer service department. For me, personal touch and customer service are paramount. I felt this hotel was not committed in that area but they were certainly trying.
Interesting Side Note
When I met with the night manager my first night there, I found it peculiar that he made no mention of the hotel being a mental asylum, just simply stating it was a hospital for the railroad workers. Perhaps he thought it would scare customers away? I think it's important to embrace and accept the history of a place. He said nothing morbid happened in the hotel but I begged to differ. I'm extremely sensitive and my senses were telling me otherwise. I continued to dig around and serendipitously bumped into a friendly lady name Aleysia (Supervisor of The Apothecary Lounge) and she enthusiastically remarked that the hotel was indeed haunted. As a matter of fact, her great grandfather died on the property; he fell from the roof during its construction in the 1920s. She also told me of other suicides that occurred by hanging.
As you cruise through the hallways, you feel a general sense of heaviness. Every time I walked back to my room, I always felt like someone was watching me. Turns out there is a woman who waltzes around the third floor wing, keeping an eye on others. Always listen to your intuition! It never lies.
Sleeping here was eerily awesome. I heard noises from shuffling to whispers. My particular room was where the stairwell was so it made sense because I heard lots of shuffling up and down the stairs movement mixed with discordant voices.
I loved hanging out in the conservatory because the room was filled with Frank Sinatra tunes. I feel him around me all the time so his presence was a pleasant surprise. A song came on of his that I forgot the title to. Siri came to the rescue! :)
Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
It was a fascinating experience for sure and I had a lot of fun exploring and getting a feel for the place but I probably wouldn't stay in this hotel again. That doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it to others though. It's a unique New Mexico experience in a historical landmark. I love what they've done with the renovation and I applaud them for crafting a comfortable environment, mixing contemporary touches with historical elegance, while never compromising the hotel's history.
What about you? Would you stay in this hotel? And if you have, what was your experience; I'd love to know!
Hotel Parq Central
806 Central Ave Se, Albuquerque, NM 87102