In the historic Taos Inn, on 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, is room 102 one of 45 unique guest rooms only this one has a silver Nambé star nailed to its door. It was the space reserved for Washington D.C. writer Dee Strasberg whenever she came to town. Which turned out to be twice a year, spring and fall, starting in 1951 until failing health kept her away. She transitioned in 2013 and asked for her ashes to be buried in the Inn’s courtyard. Between her yearly Taos sojourns Strasberg left her old heavy typewriter behind so housekeeping could set it up in room 102, with fresh flowers, a bottle of wine and candies, before her arrival. The iconoclastic writer penned many of her 70 plus Gothic Romance and Horror novels in room 102 under the pen name Daoma Winston.
This attention to detail, wonderful food, music, cheerful staff and historic ambiance have been attracting writers, artists, movie stars and Taoseaños to the Inn for decades. Referred to as The Living Room of Taos, a name given by former owner Feeny Lipscomb because of the eclectic melting pot of conversation and local camaraderie on any night.
The story of the Inn begins near the turn of the 19th century when Dr. Thomas Martin learned Taos was without a physician. In response, he and his wife Helen bought a sprawling adobe near the plaza and he devoted his life to taking care of the locals. He was the trusted family doctor in Taos. Helen was an artist and sister-in-law of one of the Taos Founders. She supported her fellow artists in town by helping found the Taos Society of Artists in the Martins’ dining room in 1912. Later, she offered housing for rent to writers and artists.
Doc Martin died in the mid-30s, the same year Taos’ only hotel burned down. Helen bought the property surrounding the courtyard and in 1936 opened The Hotel Martin. It became a favorite watering hole for artists, musicians, politicians and an occasional movie star.
The Taos Inn’s current operations manager, Julie Sena described how experiencing the seasons at the Inn is always special, “Whether its lighting a fire in our lobby on a winter evening, walking the property seeing the flowers blooming and the great smell of our beautiful lilacs. The adobe patio filled with people sipping on our famous margaritas on sultry summer days, or just sitting in our courtyard when the leaves change color in the Fall.”
Sena has been working at the Inn for several years. She said it is a pleasure to work there because “it’s a beautiful historic property with lots of character. Everyday we are meeting visitors from near and far. I enjoy working with the staff – they are my family – and interacting with locals. Sena said the classic neon Thunderbird sign was installed in 1946 and it is the only neon allowed in the historic district. “We added eight additional rooms to the property around 2006. The most recent addition is called Helens House, named after the late Helen Martin who was the wife of the late Doc Martin.”
You can tell a lot about a place by how it treats its staff. Sena said there are a handful of employees who’ve been with the Inn for many years. “Douglas Maclennan has been working for the Taos Inn since May 1988. He was the food and beverage manager for many years and the bartender for the Adobe bar. Jessie Sanchez is our Maintenance Manager and has been working for the Taos Inn for 14 years.” Sena has been with the Inn for 13 years. She started as a housekeeper, worked her way to the front desk and now is the Operations Manager.
Under COVID-19 guidelines The Taos Inn is offering 20 rooms from full beds to suites. Discounts are available for New Mexico residents. If you’ve already booked a room, don’t cancel. Postpone your trip for another time.
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