If he were still alive, Conrad Hilton would have no trouble recognizing the expansive lobby of the Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque. When the New Mexico native built the 10-story property in 1939, it was the city’s tallest building and Hilton’s fourth hotel project following three in neighboring Texas. More than 70 years later, the design and the feel both remain that of a Moorish Riad, or palace, exactly as Hilton envisioned back in the 1930s.
Just off the lobby in what’s now the reception area, the original black-and-white tiles remain from the days when the room was the hotel’s barbershop. Two beautiful murals painted on the walls decades ago have been restored to their original grandeur. When it opened its doors in 2009, the Andaluz became Albuquerque’s first boutique hotel. Its $34-million renovation was, at the time, merely the latest in a series of such projects for hotelier Yancy Sturgeon.
“My niche is boutique hotels, so with 107 rooms the Andaluz was a natural,” he says. But with neighboring downtown big-box properties such as Hyatt and Doubletree he first had to convince himself and the owners that Albuquerque was ready to enter this niche market.