On the Mother Road to the El Vado Motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico

El Vado Motel on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The El Vado Motel brings new life to Route 66

Located at 2500 Central Ave SW in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the El Vado Motel is once again a bright spot on New Mexico’s Route 66. Since its renovation and reopening in 2017, the El Vado is much more than just a motel.

Once an abandoned property surrounded by a tall security fence, the new and improved El Vado Motel is now a premier destination on Route 66 in Albuquerque. In addition to the beautifully renovated guest rooms, the El Vado hosts a variety of locally owned shops, a food pod featuring several small restaurants with centralized outdoor seating, the El Vado Tap Room and an event center suitable for hosting corporate events and small weddings.

Positioned at the corner of Central and New York Ave, the El Vado Motel is directly across the street from the ABQ BioPark’s Aquarium and Botanic Garden and only a couple blocks from Albuquerque’s historic Old Town.

A brief history of the El Vado Motel

It all started in 1931 when federal money was designated to realign Route 66 to a more east-west direction. The more direct route would bring the Mother Road through the heart of Albuquerque and reduce the journey through New Mexico by 107 miles.

Upon hearing the news, Irish born hotel proprietor, Daniel Murphy, resigned his management post at the Franciscan Hotel in downtown Albuquerque. His mission was to build his own well positioned motel on what would be the new Route 66.

Construction on Mr. Murphy’s new motel was complete in 1937 and the El Vado Auto Court Motel was born. The original motel included 32 guest rooms, some with covered car ports, arranged in two parallel buildings with an auto court in the middle. When the motel opened, it even had gas pumps located by the motel lobby on the northeast corner of the property.

In 1993, the El Vado Motel was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The application can by viewed by clicking here and it even includes a couple photos. One of the photos shows a banner on the front of the building that reads “54 years of continuous hospitality on Route 66”.

The original El Vado Motel closed its doors in the the early 2000’s and was under threat of demolition. In 2005, the property was purchased by the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency to preserve its historical and futureĀ economic values. Several years later the property was purchased by Palindrome Communities who promised to redevelop the property in a historically sensitive way. I was told by the director of sales that her company chose the name Palindrome because they believe that preserving history is equally as important as having a vision for the future.

Places to stay in Albuquerque

The newly renovated El Vado Motel maintains the Route 66 charm of yesteryear but now with a modern flair. Visitors looking for an hotel in Albuquerque will be treated to their choice of room style including a Standard King, Double Queen and a two room Suite.

Standard King

El Vado Motel on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Double Queen

Guest room at the El Vado Motel on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Guest room at the El Vado Motel on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Suite

Guest room at the El Vado Motel on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Guest room at the El Vado Motel on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Suite includes a living room and a bedroom and sleeps up to four people. The couch in the living room folds out into a queen size bed.
El Vado Motel on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Photo provided by Somos Destinations.

All guest rooms at the El Vado include a flat screen TV, free wi-fi, coffee maker and access to the pool, Taproom and Food Pod. For room rates and availability, please visit the El Vado Motel website.

The El Vado Taproom

El Vado Tap Room in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The El Vado Taproom is located on the west side of the motel and is easily seen from Central Ave. The Taproom serves select craft beers from the Ponderosa Brewing Company and wine from St. Claire (LesCombes) Winery.

The El Vado Tap Room in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The tile mosaic behind the bar of the El Vado Taproom is a creation of local artist, Celine Gordon.

Housed in the front lobby of the motel, The El Vado Taproom provides a cozy gathering space for locals and travelers alike.

A nod to Route 66 history

Art installation by Danny Hart at the El Vado Motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The front lobby of the motel, which is also the seating area for the El Vado Taproom, includes many historical features. The windows, vigas, and fireplace were all preserved from the original 1930’s construction.

This “window” to the past reveals the original adobe construction plus a couple items that were found in the walls during the renovation. The note is dated May 21, 1937, includes the names of three men and states “We made this place”.

All Roads Lead To El Vado

Art installation by Danny Hart at the El Vado Motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Winding its way around the walls of the front lobby is a unique art installation. All Roads Lead To El Vado is a creation of local artist, Danny Hart. He has recreated Route 66 using license plates from each state that the Mother Road runs through. Doorknobs from the original guest room doors mark the major cities along the way.

Art installation by Danny Hart at the El Vado Motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Art in the guest rooms

The walls of the guest rooms at the El Vado Motel are adorned with artwork by local New Mexico based artists. Each rooms includes vintage photographs and original artwork by Danny Hart and Celine Gordon.

The wood mosaics by Danny Hart are constructed using wood from the original guest room doors. The metal collages are by Celine Gordon. Celine also created the tile mosaic that is behind the bar in the taproom.

Shopping at the El Vado Motel

Albuquerque’s El Vado Motel hosts several locally owned shops. Visitors will find unique vintage clothing, art from local artists and even beautiful house plants.

The street fair vibe and unique offerings make the El Vado one of the most interesting places to shop in Albuquerque! There are many shops but I have highlighted a couple of my favorites below.

Merc 66

Taos based artist, Darryl Willison, at the Merc 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Among the many locally owned shops at the El Vado Motel is an artist collective owned by Taos based artist, Darryl Willison. As a nod to the historic significance of The Mother Road, the shop is called Merc 66.

Many local artists are represented at the Merc 66 including DeAnna Vincent (yours truly), Sean Wells, Christina Denton, Nick Nanos and many more.

Visitors to the Merc 66 will find everything from steel sculpture to fine art photography and many gift items including coasters, stickers, tee-shirts, scented candles and handmade soap.

Swan Song

Swansong vintage and sustainable clothing at the El Vado Motel on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Located in Suite 200 at the El Vado Motel, Swan Song is an adorable shop providing vintage and sustainable clothing and accessories.

Swan Song may not have a lot of square footage but they do have a veritable treasure trove of goodies. I could’ve spent hours looking though all the wonderful items Swan Song has to offer. I found everything from collectible green milk glass to handmade up-cycled hair accessories, sustainably made shampoo bars and such a wonderful selection of vintage and second hand clothing.

Eating at the El Vado Motel

El Vado Motel on Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Photo provided by Somos Destinations.

The food pod hosts several locally owned restaurants that used to be food trucks but now have a permanent location at the El Vado Motel. A beautiful courtyard provides ample outdoor seating and access to the Taproom. Restaurants include Bosque Burger, Buen Provecho, and a Heavenly Taste Cakery.

One of my favorite things to do is to visit the Albuquerque BioPark Aquarium and Botanic Garden in the morning and then cross the street and find something yummy for lunch at the El Vado. If you’re looking for places to eat in Albuquerque, the food pod at the El Vado has something for everyone!

Events at the El Vado Motel

Have your wedding at the El Vado Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The El Vado Event Center is now available to host Albuquerque corporate events, parties, family gatherings, weddings and more!

The Event Center has three combinable rooms that create the perfect intimate setting for celebrating life’s milestones. Each space includes built in audio/visual technology, great acoustics, and a beautiful aesthetic.

A fully equipped warming kitchen can support all catering needs. The El Vado Event Center is one of the few event venues in Albuquerque that allows outside catering.

The event spaces open onto a beautiful lounge with many comfy places to sit and a cozy fireplace. The event center also acts as an art gallery, celebrating the work of local artists on a rotating basis.

For Event Center rates and availability, please visit the El Vado Motel website.

El Vado Motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Historical Newspaper Art Installation in the El Vado Event Center

Newspaper art installation at the El Vado Motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

My favorite thing about the El Vado Event Center is the newspaper art installation. During the original construction of the motel, newspaper was used as insulation in the walls. Many years later during the renovation, the old walls became a time capsule of historical record. While crews worked to renovate the property, they recovered a treasure trove of old newspaper that was still intact. In an effort to preserve and share these historical papers, Palindrome Communities created an art installation featuring the most interesting articles and ads.

Big thanks to Somos Destinations for their hospitality and assistance in creating this blog post!

Somos Destinations, a Palindrome company in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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