An excellent, reasonably priced choice that's perfect if you want to be near nature and away from the hubbub of the Plaza, the Bobcat Inn (442 Old Las Vegas Hwy., 505-988-9239) is about a 20-minute drive south of the city center along the Old Las Vegas Highway, which parallels I-25 (making it easy to reach from the interstate, and a great base if you're exploring the region to the east, perhaps to the funky town of Las Vegas, New Mexico). Although it's about 8 miles south of the Plaza and many of Santa Fe's restaurants, it is practically next door to the legendary Bobcat Bite cafe, which has been serving up delicious green-chile cheeseburgers since the '50s, and it's also close to one of the favorite places in the region for innovative food and cocktails, Harry's Roadhouse, which also has something of a gay scene. You won't go hungry out in these parts.
The Bobcat has seven rooms, including two separate guesthouses - one has a jetted tub and fireplace, and all are done with warm, attractive Southwest furnishings. Rates include a very good buffet breakfast (there's always a hot entree), plus first-rate coffee. The Pueblo Revival adobe house opens to a courtyard with a tranquil pond, and it's set on 10 expansive acres - you can see for miles across the mesa. And although it's near I-25, but not close enough for there to be traffic noise, and the setting is extremely peaceful and relaxed.