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If you must travel during the Covid-19 pandemic, look for hotels that follow strict CDC guidelines: 25% occupancy, extreme disinfecting practices, rooms left vacant for at least 24 hours between occupancies.

Recently my husband and I drove from Scottsdale to Denver. My pre-trip research surprised me. Chain hotels en route were more expensive than usual—probably due to reduced occupancy and extra cleaning—while some historic hotels were suddenly affordable. So, we thought, let’s not only stay safe from the pandemic, but learn some history, too.

We booked historic Harvey Houses (circa 1876-1967). Fred Harvey partnered with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad to develop railway-stop restaurants and then hotels with a reputation for high standards, fine dining, and excellent service, provided by well-trained waitresses called Harvey Girls.

La Fonda on the Plaza is Covid-19-Sensitive       

Our half-way rest point was La Fonda on the Plaza, a classic Pueblo-style hotel in downtown Santa Fe.

In 1922, La Fonda (The Inn) was resurrected as a Harvey House. Architect Mary Colter designed Harvey Houses in an historical revivalist style that reflected a reverence for Southwest Native American tribes.

La Fonda lobby with native American Photo
Native American paintings throughout the hotel

 La Fonda is known for its original décor in the lobby,

One of many lobby adobe fireplaces
The original entrance and stairs
The Original Entrance
Phoenix lamp

and for hand-painted headboards in the comfortable bedrooms.

La Fonda beds with hand-painted headboards of green flowers with red centers.
Pueblo fireplace in La Fonda bedroom
La Fonda bedrooms

Few of Santa Fe’s famous restaurants were open, except for curbside service, so we enjoyed La Fonda’s rooftop terrace with views of the town and the mountains.

La Fonda rooftop restaurant with a view of the church and the mountains.
Rooftop Restaurant
Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Art Museum below La Fonda
Art Museum across the street

The good news: La Fonda has chargers for electric cars. The other news: Mask rule violations in New Mexico come with fines.

La Posada is stringent about Covid-19 rules          

On the way home, we stayed at another Harvey House, not only on the railroad line but also on Route 66.

La Posada (The Resting Place) was refurbished in 1930 and is situated on a large landscaped property in Winslow, Arizona, one block from the famous “Corner.” It, too, is an Adobe-stle structure with a red tile roof and lovely gardens between the wings.

La Posada entrance
garden with seating
One of the gardens
Fountain against the building
Another garden

You need more than overnight to absorb all the hotel history. It starts in the Trading Post. While you register, you can admire a museum of local art, much for purchase.

Lobby entrance to the Trading Post

Then you focus on the hallway decor, replica headboards from La Fonda.

Replica of a hand-painted headboard from the La Fonda Inn

By each of the 54 doorways, you will find a biography of someone who stayed in that room, from Amelia Earhart, Einstein, and FDR to Howard Hughes, Jackson Browne, and the Doublemint Twins. This was outside our room:

Biography of Wiley Post, who stayed in our room long ago.

On another day you can peruse the art gallery in the ballroom. We saw an exhibit of America’s first ladies by Tina Mion.

Painting of Nancy Reagan with Ronald in your eyes
“Eyes Only For You”
Painting of Hillary Clinton in a fish bowl
Hillary Clinton “Fishbowl”

The good news is the excellent food.

Photo of soup

The other news is the indoor restaurant—but with social distancing.

The Turquoise room restaurant

And for a fun outdoor activity, you can “get your kicks on Route 66” by “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.”

The Corner in Winslow Arizona, made famous by the Eagles
“such a fine sight to see.”