The fact that the St. James Hotel is on Collis
ion St. in Cimarron, New Mexico is fitting. A metaphor, so to speak. Back in 1872, when Henri and Mary Lambert opened their saloon that they added onto later to make the hotel, Cimarron was a rough and tumble crossroads on the Santa Fe Trail. Collisions among humanity were common.
Here, the likes of Buffalo Bill Cody, Jessie
James and Annie Oakley found lodging as they traveled The West. Photos and room medallions along the walls of the historic part of the hotel present a “Who’s Who?” cast of legendary characters that also include Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp.
These weren’t the only gun slingers in the house. Brawls and shoot outs were a common occurrence and the 20 bullet holes still visible in the pressed, patterned ceiling of the dining room and saloon prove it.
The bullet holes aren’t the only remnants of the past. The original safe that served as the town’s bank holding spot and cash register are some of the treasures.
Although the St. James Hotel most definitely feels like it fits in the west, the animal trophy heads -buffalo head included, are a sure give-a-away, the sensibility of modern decor and classiness has arrived.
Each of the 12 historic hotel rooms, named for the people who have stayed in them, are a gorgeous mix of fabric textures, a rich color palate, and impeccable antique furnishings. The area rugs. bedspreads and throw pillows are creative combinations of patterns and colors that made me wish I had such an eye for design myself. Stripes with floral and plaids make splendid combinations when done correctly.
Every room is unique to each other. Exquisite details include the hand-painted transoms above each guest room’s door. Some rooms include sitting areas or a small bedroom annex.
For those who like to snoop at what other rooms look like, at the St. James, snooping is as easy as walking through the halls. Unoccupied rooms are open for viewing pleasure. A rope across each door prevents walking into the rooms, but looking is permissible.
Bathrooms have been updated and are as aesthetically pleasing as the rest of the rooms. Antique vanities have been re-purposed into bathroom sinks, for example.
One modern amenity, you won’t find is air-conditioning. You won’t find TVs or telephone either.
Because of the cool night air, air-conditioning isn’t needed. With a hotel that oozes history and intrigue, not watching TV is not the worst idea. Hang out in the bar, the patio or in the reception room that has a parlor like feel or take time to go on the walking tour of Cimarron.
Or, if air-con and a TV is a must, stay in one of the 10 rooms in the annex. The annex is connected to the historic hotel by the patio. Rooms in this section range from one queen to a family room that includes a bunk bed.
As warmer weather has arrived, and Memorial Day is approaching, Cimarron and The St. James are gearing up for the tourist crowd. When I was there in March, most shops were closed and the hotel’s restaurant had limited hours.
Don’t worry that you’ll be overrun by the tourist crowd. There are tourists in the summer, but Cimarron is not crowded. I was in town last summer towards the end of June when close by Philmont Boy Scout camp is in full swing. Many guests who stay at the St. James are parents who have headed to New Mexico to either pick up their offspring or drop him or her off.
Even if you happen to just be passing through, stop at this gem of a hotel. I was enamored and am looking forward to a return visit when I can order fish tacos or a smothered burrito topped with house-made green chili. Unfortunately, when I visited in March, the restaurant was closed on that day. Lambert’s serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner and is now in full swing. The connected TJ’s Bar has a robust selection of beer, wines and cocktail options.
Room rates range from $115 to $260. You can book by calling the hotel directly at (888) 376-2664 or (575) 376-2664.
Post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein